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ESTEEM: Enhancing Success in Transfer Education for Engineering Majors
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University of California Santa Barbara

ESTEEM: Enhancing Success in Transfer Education for Engineering Majors

What is ESTEEM?

ESTEEM is a scholarship and support program for academically-talented, low-income students majoring in or intending to major in Engineering. Led by UC Santa Barbara's College of Engineering, the program is a partnership with UC Santa Barbara's Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and four regional California Community Colleges (CCCs): Allan Hancock College, Oxnard College, Santa Barbara City College, and Ventura College. All five participating institutions are Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and are committed to facilitating transfer of students between community college and four-year universities.

The goals of the ESTEEM project are:

  • To promote the success of academically-talented, low-income students at UC Santa Barbara and four regional CCCs, and facilitate transfers into Engineering B.S. programs;
  • To identify barriers to transfer and investigate the effectiveness of targeted strategies to minimize them;
  • To accelerate the adaptation of transfer and non-transfer students to the upper-division curriculum and integration into university culture; and
  • To initiate faculty collaborations between UC Santa Barbara and regional CCCs to improve transfer student preparation.

The five-year ESTEEM program (2016-2021) will provide $580,000 in scholarships per year for students enrolled at one of the five participating institutions. CCC students who receive an ESTEEM scholarship and subsequently transfer to UC Santa Barbara's College of Engineering will retain their scholarship for their Junior and Senior years, as long as they maintain their eligibility for the program. ESTEEM also provides nearly $280,000 a year for student support services, activities, and research.

Where does the ESTEEM funding come from?

Financial support for ESTEEM is provided by the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education through the S-STEM (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program, and UC Santa Barbara's College of Engineering.

In 2011, the NSF initially awarded UC Santa Barbara a 5-year, $600,000 S-STEM project to support engineering students. The project was called Enhanced Support, Training and Experiences for Engineering Majors (ESTEEM). Directed by Professor Susannah Scott, the project has provided scholarships and support to over 40 engineering majors. In 2016, the project was extended for an additional 5 years and expanded as a $4.8 million multi-institutional partnership, with an additional mandate to support prospective transfer students at community colleges in Santa Barbara County.

The goals of the NSF S-STEM program are:

  1. To increase the recruitment, retention, student success, and graduation (including student transfer) of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who are pursuing post-secondary degrees in STEM and enter the STEM workforce or graduate programs in STEM.
  2. To adapt, implement, and study models, effective evidence-based practices, and/or strategies that contribute to understanding how factors or existing high quality evidence-based practices affect recruitment, retention, student success, academic/career pathways, and/or degree attainment (including student transfer) in STEM of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need.
  3. To contribute to the implementation and sustainability of effective evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities (e.g., evidence-based practices; professional and workforce development activities) for low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need, pursuing undergraduate or graduate education, and entry into the workforce or graduate programs in STEM.

What are the benefits of belonging to ESTEEM?

ESTEEM Scholars can receive financial assistance up to $10,000 per academic year, depending on their individual financial need. Financial need is defined as the institutional cost of attendance minus the estimated family contribution, based on information reported annually on the FAFSA application. The average scholarship amount is $2,500 per academic quarter for UC Santa Barbara students, and $2,500 per semester for CCC students.

Other benefits include:

  • personalized tutoring in engineering and related subjects
  • 24/7 access to a quiet study area
  • peer support network of engineering students
  • contact with UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering Professors and staff for academic and career advice, assistance in finding engineering-related internships, and assistance with graduate school and employment applications
  • networking with professional engineers

Who is eligible to apply?

UC Santa Barbara students can apply to be ESTEEM Scholars if they meet the following requirements:

  • US Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • enrolled full-time in any of UC Santa Barbara's undergraduate degree programsin engineering: Chemical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering
  • junior or senior status
  • cumulative college GPA of at least 2.8
  • demonstrated financial need (determined by the FAFSA)

For community college students, please consult your college's ESTEEM website for information about eligibility.

ESTEEM does not discriminate based on membership in any demographic group. All students who are academically talented and low-income with demonstrated financial need are eligible for scholarships. All students in good academic standing are welcome to participate in ESTEEM.

How to apply?

UC Santa Barbara ESTEEM Scholars are selected each year, in the Fall. The application consists of the following documents:

  1. A cover letter, describing your eligibility (see requirements above).
  2. A 1-page personal statement, describing your career path to-date and intended career path in the future.
  3. Copies of all post-secondary transcripts.
  4. A recommendation letter, preferably from a current or recent STEM instructor.

Documents 1-3 can be submitted electronically (as a single PDF file) to, or delivered as a hard copy to the College of Engineering's Undergraduate Studies office, Harold Frank Hall, on or before October 11, 2018. The recommendation letter should be sent directly by the letter-writer, and must arrive on or before October 15, 2018. Finalists who are selected for an interview will be contacted early in November.

For community college students, please consult your college's ESTEEM website for information about application materials and deadlines.

ESTEEM education research

ESTEEM sponsors education research on issues affecting engineering transfer students, directed by Professor Michael Gerber of UC Santa Barbara's Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. The research will advance our understanding of how curricular and co-curricular activities support community college transfer and subsequent student success in Engineering.

The objectives of the research are:

  1. Develop a valid instrument to identify academic talent for Engineering among community college, post-transfer, and traditional students
  2. Identify the factors that contribute to persistence in Engineering
  3. Identify program interventions that may promote successful student outcomes

Research Team

Director of Educational Research
Michael Gerber
Emeritus Professor, Ph.D.

Michael Gerber

Project Coordinator,
Graduate Student Researcher
Adam Garber
Doctoral Student, Education

Adam Garber

Veronica Fematt, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar

Veronice Fematt

Javier Pulgar, M.A.
Doctoral Student, Education

Javier Pulgar

Research Reports: Survey Item Development

Measuring Technology & Engineering Literacy Item Design

Academic and Social Adjustment Item Design

Mentorship Quality Item Design

Problem Solving Styles and Collaborative Skills Item Design

ESTEEM Partner Community Colleges

Research Links

ESTEEM project evaluation

Dr. Lubella Lenaburg of UC Santa Barbara's Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships is a professional education evaluator charged with design and implementation of the ESTEEM project assessment activities.

For more information, contact:

Susannah Scott, ESTEEM Project Director; Professor of Chemical Engineering, UC Santa Barbara,

Glenn Beltz, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, College of Engineering, and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, UC Santa Barbara,

Mario Castellanos, Executive Director, Officer of Education Partnerships, UC Santa Barbara,