Success for Black Engineers – mentoring scheme events
Success for Black Engineers is a King’s Engineering project designed to support aspiring Black engineers at school and university. It was awarded seed funding in 2022 from the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Diversity Impact Programme and aims to counter the unequal outcomes experienced
In education by those from underrepresented racialised groups. The project includes school outreach and tutoring, peer and academic mentoring of undergraduate students, and wellbeing activities.
Black students experience lower attainment in key engineering subjects of maths and physics compared to their white counterparts and are less likely to achieve a 2.1 or 1st class degree outcome. This contributes to subsequent under-representation in engineering careers, as highlighted by the Hamilton Commission Report. Particular statistics for Engineering at King’s (What Works Attainment Analysis Report 2017-2021) show that:
- Biomedical Engineering has a 5% BME attainment gap for first class degrees;
- Department of Engineering has a 10% BME attainment gap for first class degrees, and a 7% BME attainment gap for good honours degrees.
One of the programme’s KPIs is to enable all Black students on undergraduate engineering programmes to achieve a first-class degree, and we believe this project will contribute to this goal.
Peer mentoring and academic mentoring for Black undergraduate students
One core strand of the Success for Black Engineers programme is peer mentoring and academic mentoring for Black undergraduate students. We have recently conducted student focus groups and interviews with staff to evaluate the mentoring scheme. Feedback frequently received was that more in-person events would help build a sense of community. A sense of community aids feelings of belonging, which can have a positive impact on student’s studies and wellbeing.
Students enjoyed the programme launch event during Black History Month as it contained information, presentations and a chance to socialise, network and meet other mentors and mentees. The students who met their mentors/mentee at an in-person event towards the beginning of the scheme found the relationship more fruitful. The optimal format of these events would be an information/activity session followed by a social gathering.
We hope to run seven events during the 23/24 academic year. One of these will be the 23/24 Kick-Off for the mentoring scheme and one will be an industrial mentoring speed-meet event. The other events will cover essential skills and knowledge which will benefit our students. We have secured funding from Ansys to put towards a specific event to provide insight into this industry and networking opportunities. Additionally, we would also provide safe spaces for students to meet and socialise with their peers, without academics present, two of which would be in person.
In order to find out whether this works, we will be conducting feedback surveys after each event and focus groups with students next summer. We will analyse the feedback received on creating a sense of community and compare it to this year’s focus group data to see if the students feel this has increased alongside their sense of belonging. We will also analyse whether the students feel they have gained skills by attending the informational sessions.