Felicia Duran traveled day and night by bus for 2 1/2 days from her home in Albuquerque, N.M., to Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., hoping to find the answers to some important questions about her future. An academically talented Hispanic student at Rio Grande High School, Felicia had applied and been accepted by Lafaytte to attend its Minority Introduction to Engineering (MITE) summer workshop.
Through the MITE program colleges and universities, industry, and engineering organizations try to help minority students break into the ranks. Sponsored nationally by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, MITE began with a pilot program in the chicago area in 1969 and by 1974 had expanded to serve 353 students in 10 schools.
It kept growing -- proving it was needed. Last year 2,200 minority students took part in programs at more than 40 colleges and universities across the country.
Colleges provide the facilities and expertise.
Funding comes from industries which hope someday to be able to hire more engineers from minority backgrounds. Lafayette's workshop, for instance, was paid for this year with funds contributed by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Air Products & Chemical Inc., and New Jersey Bell. These funds paid, in part, for Felicia's room and board, tuition, calculator, and books.
Felicia was one of 20 students from across the US who managed to combine classwork, laboratory experimentation ("the best park," according to Felicia), counseling sessions, and field trips to area industries this past summer at Lafayette.
Successful black and Hispanic engineers came in to talk to the students about what they could realistically expect from a career in engineering -- and what would be demanded of them if they should try for it.
For further information about MITE programs in your area -- or how to help start one -- contact the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology Inc., 345 East 47th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017, or call (212) 644-7685.