Published: Feb. 26, 2020 By

The Engineering GoldShirt Program at the University of Colorado Boulder has received recognition by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as an “exemplary admissions practice that promotes diversity in engineering.”  

This recognition has been combined with an opportunity for GoldShirt Program facilitators and other colleges around the country to share knowledge and resources to increase diversity in admissions processes. Phil Courey, GoldShirt Program manager, looks forward to the collaboration:

“My hope is that the GoldShirt Program and other programs recognized can expand awareness about what we’re doing, to network and learn from one another and generate support around access in admissions.”   

What is GoldShirt?

The GoldShirt Program is an admissions and education process housed within the BOLD (Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity) Center in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS). It was created in 2009 and provides a path to engineering for students traditionally underrepresented in the college.

Students are chosen for the first-year GoldShirt cohort from their motivation to succeed and desire to belong to an inclusive community. They stay in a Living and Learning Community and participate in activities and seminars that foster a support system of other students and mentors. The program also provides students with strategies for academic success and connects them to resources and opportunities on campus and in the wider community. 

The GoldShirt Program is modeled after the concept of redshirt athletes who, as team members in their first year, spend much time preparing and improving athletically before fully participating in all team activities. 

A Possibility Model

Through the program, 374 students have come into CEAS who would have before been denied access to engineering. With the opportunity to present at NAE, Tanya Ennis—director of the BOLD Center and former director of the GoldShirt Program—hopes to shift the discussion around diversity in engineering. 

“There’s so much potential in these students. If we can just change the conversation about who belongs in engineering, we can do so much. My hope is that we can convince people at the conference that this is doable! Yes, it’s a lot of work, but the rewards are incredible.” Ennis said. 

Courey sees those rewards every day.

“These students are incredibly driven academically to perform well. They also really take advantage of the opportunities available to get involved in extracurricular activities, to grow. They maximize their experience here in ways that definitely impact their peers and the broader work of faculty and staff in the college.”  

(Alexandra) Grace Wilson is the BOLD Center Communications Coordinator in the College of Engineering & Applied Science.