The number of African-Americans majoring in engineering at U.S. universities has dropped substantially in the past 5 years even as other underrepresented minorities--Hispanics and American Indians--have shown modest growth, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) reported last month. The decline among black freshmen was 1.1% last year, and 17% since the high-water mark of 1992.
With only 6% of graduating minority high school seniors versed in physics and precalculus, the problem is far-reaching. At a meeting on minorities in engineering held in Washington, D.C., in June, NACME and the National Academy of Engineering predicted that today's decline in engineering enrollment will adversely affect the supply of engineers in the next century. NACME president George Campbell says the backlash against affirmative action is the main problem. He adds that money is also an issue. "Increasingly, scholarship dollars or grant money are going to students at higher income levels."