History & Testimonials

History & Testimonials







Historical Overview:

 1993 – The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering (HWCOE) began implementing first-year student summer-bridge programming in 1993 as a means of addressing concerns related to poor retention rates for underrepresented student populations within the College.

1994 – HWCOE founded a Minority Retention Success program in 1994 using funding from the National Science Foundation’s SUCCEED program.

1994 – A residential component was added to the program in efforts to increase student attendance to program activities, intensify mentoring efforts, build cohort rapport and improve student tracking efforts. 

1995 – Present– The initiative officially adopted the name “STEPUp” combining a summer residential component with a fall/spring non-residential component as a means of providing guidance to first-year engineering students throughout the entire freshman year.


“One of the things that has always impressed me about son is his

discipline and his ability to assess what he needs to do well. If he

believes that three hours of work is needed, that is usually what it takes.

He is a self-starter and a tremendously hard worker. What STEPUP

has done for him is give him the additional dimension of people. He

has built incredible friendships. It was also very encouraging for him

to meet other engineering students, especially African Americans, and

know he was not alone. That knowledge was a tremendous boost to

his motivation. Lastly, I believe he has benefited from the study groups

that he has been a part of. It is always beneficial to gain insights and

perspectives from your peers through group study sessions.”


The STEPUP program has proven to be an excellent experience for my

son — providing not only a great academic exposure to the world of

engineering, but a wonderful initiation into life on his own, with the

support of great mentorship and caring staff.

 Thanks to STEPUP for a terrific start!


“As a mother of three boys that have attended the STEPUP program,

I have nothing but praise for the entire team that makes STEPUP a

success. When my first son left the nest to enter such a large school

as UF, having the STEPUP program was a great comfort to me.

The program allowed my sons to leave home, yet have a wonderfully

supportive network of people available to them at all times. The support

network made them feel like a part of something, and the connections

made that first summer have stayed with them throughout their college


 My oldest son is graduated with a degree in electrical engineering.

And received a job offer from Intel. I believe the confidence he felt  

originated with all of the support that came from the people associated

with the STEPUP program.

 I am very grateful that UF has such a wonderful program and hope

that it continues for a long time to come.


The STEPUP program offered the best transition possible for a high

school student going into a rigorous engineering college program. It

taught my daughter how to juggle competing demands for her time and still

ensure the important things got done — like school work. It helped her

ease into being independent by providing some structure and support.

Best of all, she met her best friends through the program. As the mother

of another teenager getting ready for college, I just wish there were an

equivalent program for non-engineering majors.


“The STEPUP program has been a benefit to my sons in many

important ways. My sons have appreciated the smaller setting

that introduced them to the University of Florida campus and the

opportunity this created for them to form lasting friendships. They

have also appreciated the realistic exposure to the faculty, courses and

coursework in the engineering program and the emphasis that was

given to the importance of working together as a group to achieve a

common goal.

I, as a parent, can also see the maturity in their judgment as they

become more confident in their decision making and more self assured

in their abilities. To all involved I can only say THANK YOU!”


My daughter benefited so much from STEPUP. It allowed her to

transition from the high school environment to the college life with

ease. She was able to meet friends during the summer STEPUP

session and also learn the campus and how things work at UF. That

gave her the confidence to tackle her first semester. She made lasting

friendships and developed a connection with the faculty of the College

of Engineering that empowered her to continue in the engineering

track. STEPUP was absolutely crucial to her sticking to this highly

challenging program of study. Christina has become a mature, poised,

confident and capable engineering student because of the foundation

laid in the STEPUP summer session. Without it she may have lost her

footing and changed her path. Thank you for this valuable program. I

highly recommend it to all who are offered this unique opportunity to


 My nephew, who was one year ahead of Christina and also wanted to

be an engineer, did not take advantage of a similar program offered at

UCF. He has changed majors three times and is now two years behind

her in his studies. He is trying to make it up now. Carpe Diem.


Our daughter, was a senior at a small Catholic high school in Miami. The oldest of our three children was facing the college decision. At the time, universities such as Vanderbilt,

Duke and Davidson had offered her substantial scholarship and

financial-aid packages. We were looking for a university with small

student population and campus life where our daughter would receive

attention and be able to get involved. We realized that we did not have the financial means to supplement our daughter’s financial-aid packages and began to consider universities

in Florida. We focused right away on the University of Florida. There

was no doubt in our minds that UF was academically our best choice.

Our greatest fear was its size.

Months later, our daughter received an invitation to attend an intense

summer program — STEPUP, sponsored by the College of Engineering

and under the leadership of Dr. Earle. ‘Intense’ is a mild word to

describe STEPUP. This program was a boot camp that prepared her for

challenging academic courses like calculus and chemistry. It gave her

the means to direct — in a responsible way — her newly established

independence and provided her with a community of friends and tutors.