June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.182.1 - 15.182.11
Antelope Valley Engineering Program: A Case Study in a Diverse Regional Partnership Abstract
The framework for a case study on a locally-enabled ABET accredited engineering degree objective program is discussed. A unique partnership has developed not only to create the program, but also to sustain it. The case study methodology and framework will be used to elucidate the constitution, motivations, actions, and effectiveness of the partnerships in developing a sustainable local engineering program. The information developed through the case study should illustrate the effects and efficacy of educational leadership applied to the partnership efforts. This paper details the case study framework, creates a structure for the current partnership participants, and introduces the local engineering program history.
In the Antelope Valley (AV) of California, a unique partnership developed in 2004 to address regional industry needs for hiring engineers from ABET accredited programs. It creates an interesting and necessary case study on the application of leadership to a social entrepreneurial enterprise1 that is intended to develop a sustainable and regionally scalable2 local engineering education program. This is a purposefully driven case study that has a specific agenda and outcome in mind.
The Antelope Valley of California is also known as Aerospace Valley. The AV is home to Edwards AFB, where space shuttles still occasionally land. The space shuttles, the Air Force B1 and B2 aircraft were assembled at Air Force Plant 42. And, the Mojave Space Port is where Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites won the X-prize. The AV also supports divisions or subsidiaries of many of the major aerospace prime contractors, as well as NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, China Lake Naval Weapons Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Propulsion Sciences Division. Because of the unique, remote, desert environment, companies based in the AV have difficulty recruiting and retaining engineers from out of the area3. This retention difficulty has exacerbated a “perfect storm”4 resulting from the confluence of the retirement of the baby boom generation of aerospace engineers, low total employment in the aerospace sector5, and the increase in foreign competition for engineers. Couple to this retention problem the drive for economic development in the AV region, the attention of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission paid to the organizations resident on the local air force base, and understanding that the local aerospace industry exists at the whims of congressional funding, the motivation for sustaining an engineering education presence in the region is evident. The motivation and the influence of aerospace employers have enabled the local community college to develop a strong engineering and STEM education focus6. However, the AV is also the last land area available for Los Angeles County expansion. The low cost of housing compared to that of the rest of the county has created an influx of low wage earning individuals and families. The poor college preparedness rate for regional high school graduates of just 21.5%7 is symptomatic of the demographic shift toward an increasingly socio-economically disadvantaged population8 and indicative of a lack of university “pull”. An engineering education presence in the region is necessary to develop a locally educated workforce to support the resident DoD and aerospace
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