Volunteerism in engineering outreach: Motivations and surprising outcomes for undergraduate mentors

Leslie To Nhu Nguyen, Luz M. Rocha, Chloe Boi Chau Nguyen, Brent C. Houchens, Angie M. Bautista-Chavez

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The motivations for volunteering of former DREAM Head Mentors is investigated. DREAM is an engineering outreach program at Rice University in collaboration with underserved Houston, Texas high schools. The existing Volunteer Functions Inventory and Volunteer Motivation Inventory have been adapted for this study. The internally developed Mentors Self-Assessment Survey has been improved with new qualitative items, and scale items from another outreach program (TEAMS). Results indicate that volunteer undergraduate Head Mentors were overwhelmingly motivated by the Values function or category, related to humanitarian concern for others. There is no volunteer requirement at Rice University and no mentors have ever requested certification of volunteer hours to maintain scholarships or fellowships, supporting the findings of highly altruistic motivations. Among former Head Mentors, 47% have pursed STEM graduate degrees - approximately twice the rate of Rice alumni. Half of these are women and half are Hispanic. Head Mentors are leaders at the schools and often participate in research and publication of findings. This study suggests that leadership development and introduction to research through engineering outreach may be an untapped pathway to diversify the undergraduate engineering pipeline and simultaneously encourage the pursuit of graduate degrees in engineering, particularly among women and underrepresented students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7044372
JournalProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
Issue numberFebruary
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event44th Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2014 - Madrid, Spain
Duration: Oct 22 2014Oct 25 2014


  • Engineering outreach
  • Mentor outcomes
  • Mentoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'Volunteerism in engineering outreach: Motivations and surprising outcomes for undergraduate mentors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this