"Academic redshirt" program gives students a boost


Rebecca Nash, ECE ILLINOIS

The University of Illinois is one of six universities the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $5 million to create and expand “academic redshirt” programs. This program will allow 800 low-income students who have promising futures in engineering the opportunity to take additional math and science courses before they begin their engineering coursework. The concept of “redshirting” originated from collegiate athletic programs, where student-athletes gained an extra year of studies to mature.

ECE Professor Lynford L Goddard, Physics Professor Kevin Pitts, and MechSE Professor Kimani Toussaint are co-PIs for the grant and will lead the effort to begin the program at Illinois. Boise State University and the University of California, San Diego will also begin their programs this year. University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Washington, and Washington State University already have academic redshirting, and the funding will further expand their programs.

Lynford L Goddard
Lynford L Goddard
Academic redshirt programs have an established track record of success. The Washington State Academic Red Shirt Program has achieved an 80 percent retention rate for students to complete their degree, compared to a national average under 50 percent. Funds from the grant are also allocated to conduct research to see how students are succeeding compared to a group that doesn’t receive additional benefits.

The University of Illinois will start their program off with 25 students, according to an article published by illinoishomepage.net. Students and professors in the engineering department hope academic redshirting at Illinois is successful and continues to grow, bringing diversity to the college.

To read more about the new academic redshirt program at Illinois, check out this article posted on the College of Engineering website.

You can also find more information on this program in an article published by the News-Gazette highlighting ECE ILLINOIS student Leroy Cook's personal experiences in the College of Engineering.