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Tribal College Creates First Engineering Degree Program

NSF Award:

New Baccalaureate Degrees and STEM Program Improvement at Salish Kootenai College  (Salish Kootenai College)

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The development of baccalaureate degree programs in tribal colleges enables American Indian students, who are severely underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, to complete their studies close to home. Keeping students closer to home helps prevent the significant drop-out rates observed when students are forced to transfer to distant universities for upper-division coursework. Salish Kootenai College (SKC), serving the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead Indian Reservation, became the first tribal college in the United States to offer a baccalaureate degree in engineering when it received accreditation for its computer engineering degree from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities in June 2007. 

SKC officially opened the program for student admissions and began active recruitment in the 2007-08 academic year. The college enrolled 11 computer engineering majors in its first year and had their first student graduate with a doctorate in engineering--the first from any tribal college--in 2009. NSF multi-year support has also allowed SKC to attract five Ph.D. faculty into their new engineering, baccalaureate and associate-level degree programs.

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