Asee peer logo

Attracting Minorities to ET Through TECHFIT

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Building Pathways that Promote Pursuit/Persistence in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.267.1 - 26.267.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Alka R. Harriger Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Alka Harriger joined the faculty of the Computer and Information Technology Department (CIT) in 1982 and is currently a Professor of CIT. For the majority of that time, she has been actively involved in teaching software development courses. From 2008-2014, she led the NSF-ITEST funded SPIRIT (Surprising Possibilities Imagined and Realized through Information Technology) project. Since October 2013, she has been co-leading with Prof. Brad Harriger the NSF-ITEST funded TECHFIT (Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators and Technologists) project. Professor Harriger's current interests include application development, outreach to K-12 to interest more students to pursue computing careers, applying IT skills to innovating fitness tools, and wearable computing.

visit author page


Bradley C. Harriger Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Brad Harriger has over 30 years of experience teaching automated manufacturing and has authored/co-authored several related articles. Professor Harriger has served in several leadership roles with Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education, and is a founding member of an international Aerospace Automation Consortium, serving on its steering committee for several years. He has invested over twenty-five years in the development and maintenance of a multimillion dollar manufacturing laboratory facility complete with a full scale, fully integrated manufacturing system. Professor Harriger has been a Co-PI on two NSF funded grants focused on aerospace manufacturing education and is currently a Co-PI on the NSF funded TECHFIT project, a middle school afterschool program that teaches students how to use programmable controllers and other technologies to design exercise games. Additionally, he co-organizes multiple regional automation competitions for an international controls company.

visit author page

author page

Michael Gerald Flynn College of Charleston


Susan Marie Flynn College of Charleston

visit author page

Susan Flynn works in the School of Education, Health and Human Performance at The College of Charleston. She is training students’ in early childhood and elementary teacher education providing future educators with the skills and knowledge to infuse health and movement in the classroom. Prior to The College of Charleston, Flynn taught at Purdue University in Indiana for twelve years in the Department of Health and Kinesiology. She specializes in the areas of Adapted Physical Education; Fitness Education and Action-Based Learning. Flynn taught in the public schools outside of Toledo, Ohio as an Adapted Physical Education Specialist and in Maryland as a Special Education Teacher. More recently, she has been providing teachers the knowledge and skills to teach their students how to use technology to enhance fitness through the TECHFIT program.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Attracting Minorities to ET through TECHFITAttracting any group to a particular discipline requires providing opportunities for that group toparticipate as well as making the experience engaging enough that the participants are eager to learnmore. TECHFIT (Teaching Engineering Concepts to Harness Future Innovators and Technologists) is athree-year project designed to spark interest in engineering technology in middle school students,especially minority students. TECHFIT offers a 6-day summer program to teams of middle schoolteachers where they learn about electricity, wiring, safety, programming, and fitness. By the end of the sixdays, each teacher team has created their own functional, prototype exergame using a providedtechnology toolkit. Then during the subsequent school year, the teacher teams offer a ten-weekafterschool program in which they teach their students the same things they learned with the goal of thestudents designing another exergame with the same toolkit components. The afterschool experienceculminates in a showcase event where each school’s team shares their afterschool experience anddemonstrates their exergame innovation.Due to a limited budget, there is a selection process to identify the best teacher teams to include in theTECHFIT summer program. The evaluation criteria include, among other things, the size of the minoritypopulations at the teachers’ schools. For 2014, 22 teachers representing 8 schools in two states completedthe summer program. As of October 2014, there are a total of 224 students registered in the afterschoolprograms at these schools. The registration form includes self-identification of the students’ ethnicity.Based on this self-reporting, TECHFIT currently has 89 African American students, 7 Native Americanstudents, 37 Hispanic students, 3 Asian students, and 100 Caucasian students. (The total exceeds theactual number of students due to several students identifying multiple ethnicities.)The program is underway with the showcase scheduled for December 2014. The paper and presentationwill share additional details about the TECHFIT program as well as the impact it made on its participants.

Harriger, A. R., & Harriger, B. C., & Flynn, M. G., & Flynn, S. M. (2015, June), Attracting Minorities to ET Through TECHFIT Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23606

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015