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Best/Steps: Hands On Education And Recruitment Of Underrepresented Groups

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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

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.252.1 - 9.252.14



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Paper Authors

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Richard Johnson

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Martin Morris

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Arnold Ness

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Richard Deller

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Julie Reyer

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

BEST/STEPS: Hands-On Education and Recruitment of Underrepresented Groups Julie A. Reyer, Richard W. Deller, Martin J. Morris, Arnold Ness, Richard T. Johnson College of Engineering and Technology, Bradley University

By the time students enter college, lack of rigorous high school coursework can eliminate engineering as a potential career path[1]. Bradley University has developed new summer camp program designed to attract students to engineering and to interest students in taking high school courses needed to pursue engineering. The campers were members of underrepresented groups selected with the input of representatives from local public schools and industry. The purpose of the camp, sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation, was to introduce the campers to fundamental scientific and engineering principles, to basic manufacturing processes, and to the application of these principles through engineering analysis to predict the behavior of a physical system. The central theme for the camp was building a model rocket from manufactured components to “shoot a field goal” as the final activity. Campers engaged in the manufacture of the components and the study of basic principles (Newton’s Laws of Motion, aerodynamic drag, thrust, weight, etc.) necessary for prediction of the flight path of the rocket. In preparing for the launch, each camper built and ground-tested a rocket. The campers used a Bradley University developed, PC based, rocket trajectory prediction program to determine the rocket launch location (distance from the goal) and the launch elevation angle prior to their launch. The predictions were based on measured values of rocket mass, engine thrust force, and rocket drag force. The camp staff included high school teachers, volunteer engineers from local industry, and engineering faculty. The pedagogical challenge in the design of the camp program was to develop an appreciation for engineering analysis and modeling in an audience that lacks the necessary mathematical sophistication. This paper reports on the development of the camp curriculum, recruitment techniques for underrepresented campers, interaction between high school instructors, professors and volunteer professionals, the manufacturing activities, the testing activities, the prediction software and the program successes.

Introduction Engineering summer camps are gaining in popularity across the nation as a means to get younger students interested in pursuing engineering careers [see, for example, 2-7]. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation sponsored Bradley’s adaptation of STEPS for Girls (Summer Technology and Engineering Preview at Stout for Girls), a University of Wisconsin – Stout camp [7]. Bradley’s adaptation, BEST/STEPS (Building Engineering Students for Tomorrow/STEPS), changed the intended audience (previously 6th and 7th grade girls) and the curriculum (previously R/C airplanes) from the Stout camp. This paper reports on the BEST/STEPS camp’s curriculum, audience, personnel, and successes.

The Bradley University College of Engineering and Technology hosted a week long camp for 35 ninth and tenth grade high school students to introduce them to engineering. The campers were from the city of Peoria and the large majority from groups that are underrepresented in engineering. Since the high school course choices made by these students, even with the help of counselors, can effectively eliminate engineering as a potential career path, the activities of the camp were designed to provide an opportunity for the campers to participate in engineering activities and identify the importance of understanding math and science to engineers [1]. They were also intended to introduce engineering principles, basic manufacturing

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

Johnson, R., & Morris, M., & Ness, A., & Deller, R., & Reyer, J. (2004, June), Best/Steps: Hands On Education And Recruitment Of Underrepresented Groups Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13397

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