The Academic Program for EXcellence for Engineers (APEXE) is an intensive eight-week, residential, academic summer bridge program designed to increase the success rate of incoming multicultural, first-year engineering students. With a current College of Engineering population of 17% multicultural students, the APEXE program works to increase this enrollment and strengthen retention by providing an opportunity for early access to higher education and equipping students with the tools needed to aid in their success. A collaboration between the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the College of Engineering, scholars are provided with academic, professional, and social-cultural-based experiential learning experiences to aid in their transition, acclimation, and retention to their chosen degree program and Iowa State University.
APEXE Experiences Include:
- 16 hours per week of research with an engineering faculty mentor.
- 2-3 workshops per week to explore engineering disciplines.
- Engagement in industry visits and presentations every week to increase understanding of the engineering profession.
- Enrollment in 4-5 credits of foundational engineering courses (Math, English, etc.) to prepare participants for college-level coursework.
- Participation in weekly networking opportunities to develop support systems within and outside the university.
Through these experiential learning experiences, this program expands students’ engineering knowledge base and creates a greater sense of connection and belonging which positively influences a student’s academic success and persistence to graduation. With a need for an increase in the completion of degrees in STEM education, the APEXE program is assisting in meeting the demand for engineers by “building a larger, more diverse base of employable students” that will be able to address the grand challenges facing humanity as identified by the National Academy of Engineering.
What do Students Have to Say?
- “I enjoyed not only learning further about my major but others as well. It gave me the opportunity to get involved in other majors I might enjoy.”
- “I feel that I gained a lot of practical knowledge on what my intended major’s career options are and how the entire process of finding a career works.”
- “I gained a lot of knowledge and patience, and it helped me understand why teamwork is important in engineering to solve real-world problems.”
- “The research experience was a great opportunity to get acquainted with the workspace of a real engineer. Because of this experience, I got a better view of how to work in a lab by learning different procedures and methods that provide the necessary information to prepare you for the real thing.”
- “I have learned about my abilities to speak up for myself and advocate for myself. I was pretty shy in high school and it was difficult for me to express myself to others. However, APEX-E offered an environment where I felt safe to be myself and actively reach out to others.”
- “My imposter syndrome was greatly lessened. I really felt like I fit in with everyone here when I was nervous about being the odd one out originally.”
- “My most memorable APEX moment was always spending time with friends. Studying together and having fun at the same time. I never could study with others just because I was easily distracted, but in APEX everyone kept me on task and helped me have fun at the same time.”
- “I loved the community we built together. So all the moments are snapshots of happiness.”
Dr. LeQuetia Ancar
Assistant Director of Student Services
Director of Multicultural Student Success
LEAD Program Coordinator
College of Engineering