Initial Publication Date: October 23, 2013

Supporting Minority Students in Geoscience at FVSU

Part of the Recruiting and supporting minority students in STEM disciplines Collection.
Information for this profile comes from the CDEP website and an interview with program director Dr. Isaac Crumbly on August 21st, 2012. You can get additional information about CDEP on the FVSU website.

Jump down to Context | Keys to Success | Attracting New Students | Supporting Our Majors | Preparing Students for Careers | Additional Information

Cooperative Development Energy Program (CDEP)

Geoscience is not an available major at Fort Valley State and there is no Geology department. But participants in the Cooperative Development Energy Program (CDEP) can obtain a degree in geoscience from a partner institution in addition to a degree in Math or Chemistry from FVSU through its 3+2 dual degree transfer program. In addition, the program provides a number of support mechanisms for the participants, who are all members of underrepresented minorities or women.


The Cooperative Energy Development Program (CDEP) at Fort Valley State University originated in 1983 with the purpose of increasing the number of minorities and women in the energy industry. Originally an energy internship program, CDEP has grown into a dual-degree program in which graduates achieve 2 bachelor's degrees in 5 years – one in a science-related field and one in an energy-related field. In 2012, there were seven partnering institutions and upwards of 80 alumni who were working full-time in either the oil and gas industry or the utility industry.

More information about the structure of the program and how participants complete work for both degrees is available on the program's Curriculum Page

Keys to Success

  • Attracting new students to the program through marketing the program around the country and fostering local students via the Mathematics, Science and Engineering Academy.
  • Supporting majors through academic tutoring, counseling, a sense of community, and mentoring.
  • Preparing students for careers using Internships, international study, and summer research experiences.

Attracting New Students

Marketing. The CDEP program attracts students from across the nation, including from as far away as Anchorage, Alaska. Approximately 60% of the students come from Georgia. Talented students are recruited and selected for the program from within the existing student body and through the Mathematics, Science & Engineering Academy (see below). Alumni in various cities across the country help spread the word about the program.

Mathematics, Science & Engineering Academy. Initiated in 1993, this early intervention program targets minority and female high school students, introducing them to the fields of energy, mathematics, earth science, biology, engineering, and computer science. Every year up to 36 students are selected as 9th graders to be Academy participants, and they are expected to continue throughout high school. Each summer the cohort attends workshops designed to develop their interest and knowledge about the geosciences and engineering. These workshops introduce different topics and are held in different locations each year, such as at Fort Valley State, the partnering institutions, and with oil & gas companies. Almost every gas and oil company that they visit has a graduate from the CDEP program, and this helps Academy participants to envision themselves in similar careers. The participants take geology field trips; travel to visit sponsors such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and United States Geological Survey in Washington, D.C.; meet geoscientists and engineers at partnering institutions; have a workshop on SAT taking; and learn about career possibilities in energy. Those that stay in the program through their senior year are more likely to receive a full scholarship for college in one of CDEP's 3+2 dual degree programs.

Maintaining academic rigor. In order to remain in the program, a number of academic milestones must be achieved: high school students must maintain a B average in all math and science courses; score at least 80 on an academy assessment; and achieve at least 1,100 on the SAT clinical reading score or an ACT composite score of at least 26. Once they are in the program at FVSU, they must maintain a 3.0 GPA.

Supporting Our Majors

Funding. Participants receive scholarships for their participation in the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program and for participation in the Academy while in high school. Funding for the program comes from utilities, oil, and gas industries, as well as from federal grants.

Tutoring and Mentoring. Free tutoring is available for students. However, since the CDEP students are top notch, they often end up tutoring other students. There are four full-time office staff, including the Director, who provide support of different types, depending on the students' needs. The institution provides counseling services. As a small school, it is a close-knit community, where everyone knows everyone and provides support. Mentoring begins as early as eight grade (for Academy participants) and continues throughout college and beyond.

Effective instruction. Prior to going on to the partnering institutions for the last two years of study, students receive instruction in physical geology, early geologic history, and mineralogy. These courses are taught by Dr. Aditya Kar, who is a graduate of the geology department of the University of Oklahoma (a partnering institution). Dr. Kar provides instruction and one-on-one help to students in the geosciences so that they are well prepared for the transition to the larger university settings of the partnering institutions.

Preparing Students for Careers

Curricular design.The goal of the program is to increase participation by women and minorities in energy-related careers, so the curriculum is specifically designed with this in mind. For more on this topic, see the Fort Valley State University geoscience program profile page.

Experiential Learning.Students are encouraged to participate in internships. Partnerships with energy-related companies provide the opportunities for these internships. In addition, students frequently participate in undergraduate research, which may occur at partnering institutions or through oil and gas companies, as well as at Fort Valley State. The research experiences often include study abroad and/or summer research, such as Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU's). As part of a recent Department of Energy grant, 15 students at FVSU were sponsored to conduct research doing energy audits of campus facilities. The program is also putting up wind turbines and solar panels, another project involving students.

Memberships and participation in national conferences. Students are encouraged to belong to relevant national student organizations including the National Association of Black Geologists (NABG), Society of Black Engineers (SBE), or the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE). The program also sends students to these organizations' national meetings and conventions whenever possible.

On-site visits from energy companies. On some occasions, the school invites representatives (e.g. vice presidents) from energy companies to visit and talk to students, which provides help in understanding potential careers.

Career types. Many alumni (approximately 80 in 2012) are successfully involved in full-time careers in the utilities industry and in the oil and gas industry.

Additional Information