Research, Academics and Mentoring Pathways (RAMP) is a six-week summer bridge program offered to incoming engineering students at UMass Lowell. Since 2018, thirty-seven students participated in RAMP and this group remains connected across their different engineering majors. The goals of this program are to establish a community and a network that supports the academic and professional success of every student in the College of Engineering, and promote the enrollment and retention of those underrepresented in the field of engineering. The objectives are to enable connections to faculty mentors, research participation, improve content knowledge in gateway courses such as Calculus, and improve the students' sense of belonging, preparedness, and confidence as they begin their engineering education.
New engineering students are admitted into the program based on the interests, goals and objectives they identify on their application to the program. Our goal is to provide each student the information, skills and resources necessary to not only successfully navigate their undergraduate program in engineering but also identify opportunities to enhance their competitiveness to graduate schools, national fellowships and future careers in high-tech industries.
The six-week program is a packed schedule of courses, exploratory research projects, visits to companies and panel discussions with professionals who have diverse engineering, computing and business expertise. RAMP participants form an interdisciplinary cohort seeking to major in Civil, Environmental, Electrical, Computer, Mechanical, Plastics and Chemical Engineering.
A typical day in RAMP begins with a Calculus class from 8–10 a.m. Following a short break, there is an hour or two of Calculus support where engineering faculty leads an interactive discussion promoting questions, presenting problem solving approaches and identifying some engineering applications of the concepts learned in Calculus. This is followed by lunch at one of the campus cafeterias with faculty members, RAMP alumni and graduate students.
The afternoons are typically dedicated to a combination of learning programming, computational modeling and working on a research project. Once a week, the students meet with engineers and scientists from the business world. This takes place on campus through three panel discussions around the theme of Communication Skills in the Workplace, Computing Skills in Engineering and Career Pathways in the Engineering Workforce.
Every other week, there is a visit to a company in the area. Students have been invited to companies such as New Balance in Lawrence, Mass., Autoguide Mobile Robots in Westford, Mass., BAE Systems in Nashua, N.H., and Raytheon in Andover Mass. Of course, there is also time to break from the schedule to kayak down the Merrimack River, play ping-pong at the recreation center, or relax in the social hours where you can not only reflect over the week’s happenings over tea and scones but also chat with the Chancellor, Provosts, Deans and faculty as they often stop by.
The staff at RAMP has produced these reports and publications about the program.