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Community-Relevant Research for TCC STEM Student Retention

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

New Approaches in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.307.1 - 23.307.13



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Paper Authors


Audrey Lynn LaVallie Turtle Mountain Community College

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A. LaVallie, M.S., is a chemistry instructor at Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt, ND. She has directed various grant programs at TMCC, aimed at providing STEM research opportunities for Native American students, funded variously by the CDC, NSF, NASA, and EPSCoR.

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Eric Asa North Dakota State University

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Dr. Eric Asa is an Associate Professor in the Department of Construction Management and Engineering at North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota. He holds a doctoral degree in Civil and Environmental Degree from the University of Alberta. His research interests are the application of spatial statistical, computational and intelligent algorithms to civil/construction engineering problems, sustainable construction and infrastructure and STEM education of minorities.

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G. Padmanabhan P.E. North Dakota State University

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G. Padmanabhan, Ph. D., P.E., M. ASEE, F. ASCE is a professor of civil engineering at North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota. He is a long standing member of ASEE. He also serves as the Director of North Dakota Water Resources Research Institute. He has been active in STEM education outreach activities to Native American students at the college and high and middle school levels for the last twelve years. His outreach activities have been supported by funds from the NSF, NASA, and Office of Naval Research.

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A Community-Relevant Research Project Used in a Research OpportunityProgram for STEM Student Retention in a Tribal collegeABSTRACTTwo research universities and five tribal colleges in North Dakota collaborate ina program funded by the National Science Foundation for providing researchexperience for STEM students in tribal colleges. The research experienceprogram is set up so that the students have the opportunity to work with onetribal college and one university research mentor working collaborativelythrough the academic year. The goals of the program include retention andnurturing of students in STEM areas by offering them research experienceopportunities. This paper describes one of the student research projects,“Radon Mitigation System Construction and Structural Modeling of Movementof Terrestrial Gases into Buildings”. The project was of immediate relevance tothe community. The students were exposed to a number of important conceptsand practices not only in a specific scientific discipline, but also in researchprotocol in general. Our studies were conducted in order to pinpointparameters and conditions of high radon in local residences, and to carry out acost analysis and feasibility of installing radon mitigation systems in high-radonresidences, but the experience engendered so much more in terms of studentcognitive skills. Students were also exposed to organizational skills when theywere asked to produce a research topic, develop a methodology of investigationand construct a timeline. Students were then asked to do a literature search andthey learned important skills in terms of quick evaluation of sources of meritand in paraphrasing important ideas succinctly from the literature. Exposure toprograms investigating the science behind problems of relevance to thecommunity (such as radon; metals in water and soil) will undoubtedly be ofbenefit in the development of their knowledge base and understanding of thework and effort required to evaluate data of this type.

LaVallie, A. L., & Asa, E., & Padmanabhan, G. (2013, June), Community-Relevant Research for TCC STEM Student Retention Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19321

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