June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
13.23.1 - 13.23.14
A Comprehensive and Integrated Approach to Increase Enrollments in Engineering Technology
Abstract The future of America’s global competitiveness depends upon a well-educated, technologically literate workforce. However, if proactive measures are not taken in the near future, the United States will face a serious shortage of scientists, engineers, technologists, and mathematicians because high school students, especially those from underrepresented groups, are increasingly losing interest in these subjects. The key in reversing this trend lies in our ability to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects and professions in a more socially relevant, real-world context and to recognize the differences in learning styles and self-efficacy between males, females and minorities. In an effort to increase the number and diversity of students pursuing engineering related majors, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte has adopted a comprehensive and integrated approach involving three separate National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects. Together, the projects are designed to raise the engineering awareness of middle and high school students, teachers and guidance counselors.
The central project is the Enhancing Diversity in Engineering Technology (EDIET) project which focuses on the establishment and support of North Carolina Junior Engineering and Technology (NCJETS) clubs at local area high schools. In order to receive project support, a high school club must have a population of at least 50% non-traditional engineering student types. The clubs compete in regional competitions such as balsa wood bridge building, trebuchets, robotics, and math tests, etc. The EDIET project also sponsors week long summer engineering technology camps hosted by the university.
To reinforce the impact of the EDIET project, the Teaching Engineering to Counselors and Teachers (TECT) project was developed to strengthen the way in which high school teachers and counselors approach the integration of engineering based materials into their courses and counseling. As STEM teachers and school guidance counselors will be the primary catalysts for introducing students to engineering and technology subjects and careers, the TECT project delivers week long professional development workshops that uses the well-established STEM model of hands-on activities as a tool to raise engineering awareness among the teachers and counselors. The TECT workshops have been closely integrated with the EDIET summer camps and makes use of the student camps to further promote best practices that reach across the diversity of student learning styles and interests.
Finally, in order to provide financial support for underrepresented students entering engineering technology majors, the Career Opportunities for Meritorious Engineering Technology Scholars (COMETS) scholarship program was created. The program awards scholarships to qualifying students with the goal of improving student retention by reducing the need for students to work and take classes at the same time. This paper discusses some of the results and findings of this comprehensive and integrated approach to increase enrollments in engineering and engineering technology majors.
1. Introduction An essential component to the continued growth and stability of the American economy is a well- educated workforce able to create, develop and produce essential products, processes, and services1. However, it has become abundantly clear that the United States faces two significant challenges in that it has been unable to produce a sufficient number of domestic engineers2, and it has been unable to produce a sufficiently diverse engineering workforce3.
In 2003, Gibbons2 reported that the demand for engineers is increasing, but the production of engineers in America is decreasing and the United States is facing an imminent shortage of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians4. The literature indicates that one of the reasons for this shortage is that high school students that are members of traditionally underrepresented in engineering and technology
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