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A Case Study on Moving the STEM Fence: Exposing STEM to Minority Youth Who are Oftentimes Not Aware of Such Opportunities

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Claude Villiers Florida Gulf Coast University

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Dr. Villiers is an Associate Professor in the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering (WCOE) at Florida Gulf Coast University. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering with a concentration in Materials and Construction from the University of Florida in 2004. Dr. Villiers’ areas of principal research interest are Civil Engineering Materials and Asphalt Technology, Highway and Pavement Design, Transportation, Specifications and Construction Variability of Pavement Materials, Quality Control/Quality Assurance, Pavement Management and Rehabilitation, and Statistics related to Pavement Materials.

In the past, Dr. Villiers worked on several projects sponsored by various agencies including the Florida Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and University Transportation Research Center Region-II. Some of his most recently completed and on-going work include the use of driving simulator to investigate patterns of drivers’ behavior during various rainfall event using different roadway geometries. Deliverables from this project may help Florida Department of Transportation and other agencies with future decision making, such as variable message signs, determining appropriate corrective measures on existing roadway sections, and/or designing future roadway sections to reduce hydroplaning. He is a Co-PI for the grant submitted to NSF to allow Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) be a member of the Florida – Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (FGLSAMP). This program is committed to substantially increasing the number of degrees awarded to underrepresented populations within STEM areas. Last year, Dr. Villiers in collaboration with the Director of the Office of Community Outreach Programs, Associate Provost at FGCU along with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People successfully initiated and completed a successful Pre-Collegiate Summer Camp to engage high school students from underrepresented groups in research and STEM activities. Dr. Villiers is also the founding faculty advisor for the American Society of Civil Engineers in WCOE at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Dr. Claude Villiers Villiers

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Tony Anthony Barringer Florida Gulf Coast University

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Dr. Tony A. Barringer currently serves as Associate Provost/ Associate VP for Academic Affairs at Florida Gulf Coast University. He also serves as full professor in the Division of Justice Studies where he teaches in the area of criminal justice. Dr. Barringer has presented and published widely as his research is focused on the plight of minorities in the criminal justice system. Dr. Barringer has been PI or co-PI on grants in excess of one million dollars. He is truly committed to the area of diversity and all of its associated benefits.

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FFFF university in partnership with the FFFF hosted a two-week, on-campus, STEM camp during summer(s) 2014, 2015, and 2016. The program objectives were to improve students’ skills in mathematics; expose students to real-world math and its application in related career fields; increase the students’ awareness of STEM fields; expose students to processes that will increase their likelihood of being accepted into post-secondary institutions; expose students to practicing professionals in STEM fields; and create potential internship opportunities for camp participants. A system was designed and implemented that would assist the selection committee in identifying academically talented and motivated students that would be eligible to participate in the camp. The rigorous selection process resulted in the annual selection of forty plus applicants from an annual pool of over one hundred students. The average GPA for the camp participants was 3.8. Eighty percent (80%) of the participants were from underrepresented groups (Black or Hispanic descent) of which forty-one percent (41%) were males and fifty-nine percent (59%) were female. In terms of grade level, twenty-six percent (26%) were 9th graders, thirty-three percent (33%) were 10th graders, and forty-one (41%) were 11th graders. In addition to what we would call the core camp participants who made up the demographics mentioned above, the committee decided to conduct a pilot program and admit students who were not performing as well academically and had been involved in a supplemental educational program; namely, Cacho Academy. The average GPA of this sub-group ranged between 1.8 to 2.5. They were selected based on five (5) guiding principles. This paper will describe the overall experiences and results of the broader camp as well as the outcome(s) and manifestations that resulted from the Cacho youth attending the camp. This paper places special emphasis on highlighting the improvements gained by the Cacho participants in terms of their performances on measured skill sets. In the end, it is hoped that the results from this study, particularly the way it was designed, will be useful in assisting others who might want to move the fence in terms of deciding who gets to be considered in the STEM arena.

Villiers, C., & Barringer, T. A. (2017, June), A Case Study on Moving the STEM Fence: Exposing STEM to Minority Youth Who are Oftentimes Not Aware of Such Opportunities Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27446

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