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Attracting K 12 Students Into The Engineering Pipeline Early

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

ETD Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.244.1 - 9.244.9

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Paper Authors

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George Westrom

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

2004-1171 Session

Attracting k-12 Students into the Engineering Pipeline Early

George Westrom

Executive Director, Future Scientists and Engineers of America


This paper addresses some of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teacher’s Association’s concerns about science and engineering education in America, especially in the K-12 grades. The preparation of our American K-12 students for engineering universities continues to be a problem. This paper presents specific actions that can be taken by ASEE members and other engineers and scientists to ensure that students will be entering the “Engineering pipeline” for future generations. The lack of motivating experience and hands-on projects in the early K-12 grades in the American public school system turns students away from careers in engineering. The paper presents a national award winning, after- school program where students 4th grade through high school become engineers and scientists, by building robots, bridges, boats, cars, airplanes, towers and scores of other hands-on projects. The Future Scientists and Engineers of America (FSEA) curriculum consists of over 50 hands-on projects. Engineers, companies, universities and communities, team with teachers and schools to motivate and excite students with hands-on science, mathematics, engineering and technology.


There are many indications that suggest that the American K-12 education system is failing to provide students prepared and motivated for the science and engineering “pipeline”. The views frequently expressed by middle and high school students are that science and mathematics are hard and boring and not fun and exciting. The enthusiasm and excitements evident in a large percentage of elementary school children disappears in most middle and high school students. The concerns about K-12 education are expressed by universities with decreasing engineering enrollment and with students lacking basic skills. The National Science Board states that the number on native-born science and engineering graduates entering the workforce is likely to decrease unless the nation intervenes to improve success in educating S&E students from all demographic groups.

The purpose of this paper is not to rehash all the studies that show a change is needed, but to discuss a program which is based on some well established methods of capturing the excitement of students early and maintaining that attention and excitement throughout K-12. This program is not a simple magical “silver bullet”, but rather one which is based on a systematic approach which involves the entire community in a shared responsibility rather than a “blame game”. It is

"Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering

Westrom, G. (2004, June), Attracting K 12 Students Into The Engineering Pipeline Early Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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