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Connecting Research and Teaching Through Product Innovation: Quality of Life Technology RET Site

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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

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.331.1 - 23.331.7



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Paper Authors


Mary R Goldberg University of Pittsburgh

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Mary Goldberg, M.Ed. received her bachelor's degree in Psychology and Spanish and a Master's of Education in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been the Lead Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology and Human Engineering Research Laboratories since 2007, where she has served as co-PI on four training programs in the field of assistive technology for undergraduates, veterans, and graduate students. She is dually involved with the Research Experience for Undergraduates and Teachers programs, in addition to other education initiatives at the Quality of Life Technology Center, all funded by National Science Foundation. Ms. Goldberg is pursuing her Ph.D. in Administrative and Policy Studies of Education at the University of Pittsburgh.

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Jon Pearlman


Christian D Schunn University of Pittsburgh

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Dr. Christian D. Schunn is a professor of Psychology, Intelligent Systems, and Learning Sciences and Policy at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also a senior scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon in 1995. His basic research involves cognitive/social psychology studies of science and engineering problem solving and creativity. His educational research and design work focuses on K-12 urban education in writing, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—both in isolation and in various combinations.

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Birdy Reynolds University of Pittsburgh


Shelly Renee Brown MEd The Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center; University of Pittsburgh

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Shelly Brown, M.Ed. is an education and outreach coordinator for the QoLT Center at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories and the University of Pittsburgh Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology. Ms. Brown is responsible for all K-12 outreach projects and initiatives including LEGO robotics programs, job shadowing experiences, and high school internships.

Ms. Brown also works with the continuing education department to coordinate the State of the Science Symposia Series, quarterly workshops that highlight technological developments within the rehabilitation community. The symposia are held at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Ms. Brown obtained her BS and MEd in elementary education from Duquesne University and is passionate about connecting minority youth, particularly girls with cool science, technology, engineering, and math experiences. Ms. Brown is currently a doctoral student at Duquesne University, pursuing a degree in educational leadership. She is a retired Pittsburgh Police officer and an active member of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence/ Women of Color Caucus, an advocacy organization for women and families experiencing domestic violence.

Ms. Brown is a proud wife, mother of four children, and grandmother of one.

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Connecting Research and Teaching Through Product Innovation: Quality of Life Technology RET SiteThe purpose of this presentation is to convey a successful approach to the NSF ResearchExperience for Teachers (RET) program as evidenced by our “Connecting Research andTeaching Through Product Innovation: Quality of Life Technology RET Site”. Our RET has aQuality of Life Technology (QoLT) engineering research theme and a focus on math throughproduct development economics. The success of our method involves a seamless year-roundapproach to incorporate research and academic year teaching via a common product innovationand experiential learning focus. The key partnership between the fabrication capabilities at theHuman Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), curriculum reform expertise from theLearning Research and Development Center (LRDC), and innovative research and product ideasfrom the Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center allows for a multidisciplinaryapproach and multi-step program. First, our comprehensive team effort provides teachers within-depth engineering experiences that translates research into innovative products and motivatesthem to teach their students about engineering and innovation. Second, participants complete acourse on product innovation that includes design, development, and evaluation of technologiesin addition to the processes of bringing these products to market. Third, through a professionaldevelopment series, the participants create design-based learning (DBL) units that includeproduct development economics and other math concepts related to innovation. Science andmath teachers work together to facilitate units that allow their students to produce prototypes andcommercialization plans of Quality of Life Technologies. Top teams from each classroomcompete in a district-wide design competition against other RET participants’ students(approximately 125 students each year). We assess the program through recruitment goals(number of participants from high-needs school districts), exposure among urban students(outreach through our DBL units), evaluation of participants’ productivity in engineeringresearch (patents and publications), evidence of student interest in pursuing engineering as acareer, and evidence of student learning in science and mathematics.

Goldberg, M. R., & Pearlman, J., & Schunn, C. D., & Reynolds, B., & Brown, S. R. (2013, June), Connecting Research and Teaching Through Product Innovation: Quality of Life Technology RET Site Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19345

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