Published March 24, 2023

A Rutgers School of Engineering program builds a bridge to a successful future for incoming engineering students. 

Making the transition from high school student to college student is both a rite of passage and also a challenge. To expand opportunities among students pursuing an engineering degree, Rutgers School of Engineering’s Engineers of the Future program includes a summer preparatory residency for incoming Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) and Engineering Opportunity Program (EOP) students.

The residential EOF Summer Institute gives students early exposure to School of Engineering academics, introduces them to a supportive community and network of resources to help them navigate the engineering curriculum, and provides each student with a personalized, holistic plan for success.

Engineers of Future

The Program  

“The most exciting thing to me about the EOF summer program is seeing the difference in our students between move-in orientation and the closing program symposium,” says Michael Brown, access programs assistant dean and director of School of Engineering’s EOF/EOP program. “Our students walk into the program with little knowledge about the Rutgers student experience—and often questioning their ability to attend college or an engineering program.”

He adds, “By the end of the program, they’re presenting research projects to the engineering community, navigating engineering resources independently, and have created a network of friends, mentors, and advisors. This growth marks the beginning of a new life trajectory for both the students as well as for their families.”

A Bridge to a Community 

Prior to her first year, biomedical engineering major Anmarie Aquino took part in the EOF Summer Institute Program. In summer 2022, she returned to the program as an EOF summer counselor. Helping to connect students with the EOF community was just one of her responsibilities. She worked to “make sure the upcoming freshmen were safe and helped them adjust to college life and blossom into the aspiring engineers they are today,” she says. “I enjoyed seeing their growth throughout the summer.”

For mechanical engineering major Layla Morisseau, the summer 2022 program gave her experience with college level work and living before her first semester. “It really helped me adjust and prepare me mentally for the work to come,” she says.

A Bridge to Lasting Connections 

Like Aquino, fellow EOF summer counselor Maniyah Dixon was pleased to be part of the Summer Institute students’ growth. “They come into the program and by the end of the month they gain so many important skills, such as time management, stress management, and study skills,” says the mechanical engineering major. “They learn how to navigate different curriculum sites and had built relationships with their advisors, who they knew they can go to with any problems—even those not academically based.”

Most important, she says, students “learn to depend on each other if they need to, and that they have a support system as well as a family at Rutgers while they are away from home.”

Dixon—who plans to apply to be a summer counselor again in 2023—notes that the students especially enjoyed and valued the connections they made with the many student organizations that were present, and with new friends in EOF.

They also connected with her. “To this day some students still ask me for advice,” Dixon says. “I didn’t expect this, but I’m happy they’re comfortable enough to reach out to me when they need help.”

Brown says the Engineers of the Future program plays an important role in the lives of the engineering students. “As a program we are most proud that our students have faced numerous challenges and overcome the odds to join us at SOE,” he says. “On the journey to graduation, they will continue to face barriers, but with the support of our office and peers we know they can persist. We have a proven track record of high program completion and graduation rates. These are amazing students who will land amazing jobs with top companies.”

The School of Engineering’s Engineers of the Future program includes New Jersey’s Educational Opportunity Fund which gives financial and academic assistance to low-income New Jersey residents with demonstrated potential and academic and/or creative promise who meet financial requirements to receive grants from the state-funded program, while the Educational Opportunity Program serves students in underrepresented populations who may not qualify for EOF but who are eligible for the same services and support.   

This story originally appeared on the Rutgers School of Engineering news page.

Building Bridges

Support Engineers of the Future