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A University-High School Partnership for Introduction to Engineering: Building Community with Underrepresented Students (Evaluation)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Shazib Z. Vijlee University of Portland Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Shazib "Shaz" Vijlee earned BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He then spent three years at Boeing Phantom Works in Seattle, WA. He completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington in 2014 and joined the faculty at the University of Portland in 2014. He spent several summers as a visiting engineer/researcher with the Sandia National Labs and the AIr Force Research Labs. His technical research deals with combustion, alternative fuels, biomass, and bioenergy.

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Jamie Merritt University of Portland

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Jamie Merritt has been a Program Counselor for engineering and computer science students at the University of Portland since 2018. Prior to this, she received her undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in 2016 and her Masters of Education from the University of Southern California in 2018. Jamie is particularly interested increasing enrollment and retention of underrepresented students in STEM degree programs.

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According to ASEE research from 2014, only 19.9% of students earning engineering bachelor’s degrees were female. Likewise, in 2015 only 35.1% of students earning an engineering bachelor’s degree were of an ethnicity other than white. Engineering outreach to K-12 students is the leading way to increase enrollment in engineering programs, especially for underrepresented students. This paper will describe an innovative partnership in which a university professor teaches an introductory engineering course to local high school students on the university’s campus. The high school involved is a private college preparatory school for underserved students in the area that is unable to offer an in-house engineering course. The students that take this course, of which 44% have been female and 82% have been non-white, receive both high school and college credit. The introductory engineering course includes a set of modules, each focusing on a different engineering topic and skill. Each student is given an engineering kit that, along with the modules, will assist them in finally building a table-top wind turbine system complete with electrical, software, mechanical, and structural subsystems. This course has been taught three times so far, and data has been collected through student surveys, interviews, and anecdotal findings. This long-term relationship-building program is innovative because it is more than outreach. Instead, it is about bringing the students into the campus community. The authors will assess the outcomes of this program in terms of student comfortability with engineering skills, students chosen major after high school, and the gender breakdown of both. In addition, this paper will discuss the qualitative impact of this program on university and the high school involved.

Vijlee, S. Z., & Merritt, J. (2021, July), A University-High School Partnership for Introduction to Engineering: Building Community with Underrepresented Students (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36629

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