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Black Students Adventures in Engineering with the University of Ottawa 2021

Black Students Adventures in Engineering

Download buttonAuthors: Tanitia Munroe and Desiree Sylvestre
December 2021

The Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement: Black Students Adventures in Engineering program highlights the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) efforts to improve equity in access and reduce barriers to post-secondary education (PSE) and pathways to science and engineering for Black students. The Black Students Adventures in Engineering program aimed to provide support for African, Afro-Caribbean, and Black (ACB) students' access to PSE and promote increased participation in post-secondary science and engineering pathways. The program also sought to expose ACB students to post-secondary engineering and science departments, broaden their academic skills, and enhance their ability to maneuver the cultural, academic, and social environment of PSE.    

The program was evaluated in June and July 2021 using a pre-and post-evaluation survey to explore ACB students’ early exposure to and participation in PSE and science and engineering post-secondary pathways.

Five themes emerged from the evaluation data:

  1. Recasting Black Students’ pursuit of STEM
  2. Importance of early pathways to post-secondary science and engineering for Black students
  3. Opportunities for academic development
  4. Navigating the social and educational aspects of post-secondary education
  5. Feelings of belonging in post-secondary education spaces

These five issues were cited as important to support students’ decision-making processes with respect to their pathways to post-secondary education. For ACB students, their interest, enrolment, involvement in and exposure to courses in the program are precursors to their future STEM career. Students’ overall views illuminated the need to hone their academic and non-academic skills and increase their access to multiple resources to improve their academic achievement and overall well-being.


The evaluation of the Black Students Adventures in Engineering program reinforced the need to prioritize and design specific programs to help Black students’ transition to PSE. The following recommendations should be considered based on the findings from the program evaluation:

  • Provide opportunities to help students challenge long-held conceptions of Blackness and STEM spaces, e.g., workshops, academic fairs and community events that focus on the celebration of Black success.
  • Provide opportunities for other ACB mentors who can provide a network of supports both academically as well as an awareness of the social aspects of PSE.
  • Adopt equitable and culturally responsive teaching methods. Teachers need to be intentional about creating safe and supportive spaces where Black students can thrive.
  • Increase the length or duration of the program to help with time management of the course.
  • Include the development of non-academic skills such as critical-thinking skills and time-management and soft skills such as oral and written skills.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for teachers to better support Black students’ pursuit of STEM. Black students need to be encouraged into STEM spaces.