Raul A. Reyna, Ph.D., executive director of The University of Texas at San Antonio Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP), TexPREP, and PREP-USA, gave a presentation on the UTSA PREP program during the UT System Board of Regents meeting in Austin on May 14, 2014.
Founded in 1979 by UT San Antonio Mathematics Professor Manuel Berriozábal, PREP is an intense, mathematics-based summer program that stresses the development of abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills.
In 1986, PREP was replicated statewide as the Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program (TexPREP) and is currently operational in 13 Texas cities. In 1997, PREP-USA was established in a collaborative effort with UT San Antonio and three other Hispanic-serving colleges and universities across the nation to encourage junior high school and high school students to begin preparing for scientific and engineering career paths in school.
Currently, UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT Austin UT San Antonio and UT Pan American offer TexPREP.
“This is a STEM program that is very, very critical to what we are doing as far as the economy of our state and our nation,” Reyna said. “While we are open to all middle and high school students, we focus on women and underrepresented minorities. That’s an area where we know we have gaps and continue to have gaps, and it’s an area we want to continue to focus on to get those numbers up,” he said.
The TexPREP model is a seven- to eight-week summer program with a four-year curriculum. Since 1979, 36,118 middle and high school students have participated in PREP, 81 percent minority groups and 53 percent women.
Data on TexPREP from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and National Student Clearinghouse show that 83 percent of the 17,716 students who are of college age go to college*, 90 percent of college attendees go to Texas schools and 54 percent of college attendees graduate from college.
The data also show that 73 percent of graduates are from minority groups, 44 percent of college graduates major in STEM, 48 percent of STEM graduates are female and 67 percent of STEM graduates are minorities.
Student testimonials provided by PREP show the powerful impact the program has had on its participants:
I joined TexPREP with a different career plan in mind, but now long to become an engineer. I’m in a college-level pre-calculus and trigonometry class as a high school junior, and I owe it all to TexPREP.
- PREP III student, UT Pan American
At PREP, it doesn’t matter what you look like, or what your background is. I learned that determination, education and courage can take me anywhere. These past three years have been the most challenging, but also the best summers ever.
- Student, UT San Antonio
*83% is a minimum number, as data is unavailable on remaining college students
Learn more about TexPREP at www.prep-usa.org