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Adventures For Future Engineers: K 12 Outreach Strategies

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Women in K-12 Engineeering & Outreach Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.132.1 - 15.132.15



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Paper Authors

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Carolyn Vallas University of Virginia


Wraegen Williams PhD University of Virginia

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Wraegen Williams completed her doctoral studies in Organic Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2007. Currently, she is a Research Associate in the Center for Diversity in Engineering at the University of Virginia. Within this position, she helps execute a number of programs that are designed to peak K-16 studen⁴s interests in STEM disciplines. Prior to working at UVA, she taught at the collegiate level and worked as a National Academies Science and Technology Fellow.

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Ping Guan University of Virginia

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Ping Guan is a program coordinator and evaluator in the Center for Diversity in Engineering, at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science since January 2008. Before working in the center, she received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Building Science department of Tsinghua University in Beijing China, and a Master of Science degree from Systems and Information Engineering department at the University of Virginia. Her research in graduate study concentrated in optimization and rare event statistical analysis.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Adventures for Future Engineers: K-12 Outreach Strategies Abstract

Within this manuscript, we will present three K-12 residential summer engineering outreach approaches. Each of these programs has been designed and executed with the aim of instilling an interest in engineering among middle and high school students, with an emphasis of reaching underrepresented populations. The three programs introduced in this paper are the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp (EMBHSSC) for rising sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, Introduction to Engineering (ITE) for rising high school juniors and seniors, and the Leadership, Education, and Development Summer Engineering Institute (LEAD-SEI) which is also geared towards rising high school juniors and seniors.

Each of these curriculums consists of hands on activities, lectures and presentations given by University professors and graduate students, team building exercises, field excursions and tours of both faculty laboratories and the campus. In addition to these traditional enrichment activities, the LEAD-SEI program initiated a group research project strategy, which was highly praised by visiting sponsors, participants and faculty members.

One unique aspect of the EMBHSSC program is the spring follow-up activity that is provided for all campers and their parents. At this follow-up event, all campers and parents participate in the hands-on activities and parents are given the opportunity to learn about other additional enrichment programs in which their children can apply.

Within this paper we will describe the basics of each residential summer program, the recruitment and marketing strategies, the participant selection process, and approaches used to engage these middle and high school students in additional enrichment programs. Beyond this, we will discuss the activity design criteria of each program as they serve a variety of age groups and diverse backgrounds. The paper will conclude with an overview of findings from these three programs, including the quantitative distribution analysis of the applicants’ race and gender, curriculum critiques, ongoing assessment survey reviews, characteristics of the most successful activities, and lessons learned. All of these programs departmental implementation and evaluation experiences will be presented in a format that can be adapted at other higher educational institutions.


Several reports have indicated that the Unites States is challenged with retaining and graduating enough well-qualified science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers to meet the needs of the economy. 1-5 This shortage of technically skilled workers, threatens the United States stature as a global leader in scientific and technological innovation. At the same time, the demography of the United States continues to shift and it is reported that by 2035 that the present minority population will become the majority.4,5 Unfortunately, the National Science Boards 2008 indicators show that underrepresented groups collectively (African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives) constitute 24% of the total U.S. population, 13% of college graduates and only 10% of the college educated population in science

Vallas, C., & Williams PhD, W., & Guan, P. (2010, June), Adventures For Future Engineers: K 12 Outreach Strategies Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16981

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