UCF’s graduate engineering program has ranked among the top 10 in the country for Hispanic students for the eighth consecutive year.

Hispanic Business Magazine ranked the UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) sixth in its 2012 Best Schools for Hispanics list. The publication ranks the top 10 graduate programs in the country in medicine, law, business and engineering.

The graduate programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue ranked first and second this year. UCF came in ahead of the University of Florida, which ranked seventh. The rankings are based on questionnaires sent in by schools, enrollments, the percentage of Hispanic faculty members, the number of programs that recruit Hispanic students, retention rates and student services.

At CECS, 14 percent of graduate students are Hispanic, and 15.8 percent of postgraduate degrees are earned by Hispanics.

“Becoming more inclusive and diverse is a major goal of UCF, and CECS proudly supports this mission,” said Michael Georgiopoulos, CECS interim dean. “Ranking in the nation’s top 10 for eight consecutive years affirms the world-class graduate education offered at CECS.”

In 2011, CECS established the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to improve recruitment, mentoring and retention of students from underrepresented groups. Director Fidelia Nnadi, an associate professor in CECS’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering, views diversity as a critical part of higher education.

“The more diverse CECS is, the more students are able to gain a competitive advantage in the global economic and technological market,” Dr. Nnadi said.

Melissa Grenier, a senior studying computer engineering, is president of UCF’s student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). With 126 members, SHPE is one of the largest engineering-related student groups at UCF.

UCF’s vast array of opportunities offered to students with diverse backgrounds boosts student success, according to Grenier. Groups like SHPE help students hone their leadership skills and provide camaraderie, support, volunteer opportunities and a sense of community.

“SHPE works closely with CECS and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to give our members the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for life after college, whether that involves pursuing graduate education or entering the workforce,” Grenier said.

Other engineering and computer science organizations at UCF geared to supporting diverse students include the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers.