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Crafting a Successful High School Engineering Program

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Research to Practice: STRAND 1 – Addressing the NGSS: Supporting K-12 Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy and Engineering Science Connections (Part 2)

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.414.1 - 26.414.16



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Paper Authors


Marie Anne Aloia Bayonne High School

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Marie is an alternate route teacher with an educational background in math, physics, chemical engineering and computer science. As the first girl in her family to go to college, and maybe to prove the point, she earned two bachelor’s degrees, one from Montclair State University by day, and 8 years later, one from New Jersey Institute of Technology, by night, while working full time by day at Exxon Research and Engineering. While a traditional female career, like teaching, was the last thing on her mind, she was drawn to educational outreach because she herself had received so little career advice. She eventually ran the educational outreach program at Exxon. After 25 years, 20 at Exxon and 5 in the high tech industry, an unexpected layoff came at a bad time, she was also newly widowed. Job offers that were once plentiful were nowhere to be found. The first, and only, offer to finally appear was to teach physical science at Bayonne High School, for a significant pay cut. A new adventure began. In the ten years since then, she got to start up a research program, an engineering program, a science club, two FIRST Tech Challenge robotics teams, and brought in several new programs such as Technology Students Association, Young Science Achievers, and ACS Project SEED. She’s been invited back do pharmaceutical engineering research with Research Experience for Teachers at NJIT every summer for the last 8 years now, with her Project SEED students. In 2008 one of her research students became a Science Talent Search Finalist. He also won best in category awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair two years in a row. In 2010 she was named a Society for Science and the Public Teacher Fellow, and served on the Advisory Council for Intel ISEF since 2012. Marie currently teaches three levels of engineering courses, that she designed, and coaches students doing science research projects for competitions.

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Howard S. Kimmel New Jersey Institute of Technology

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HOWARD KIMMEL is Professor-Emeritus of Chemical Engineering and Retired Executive Director of the Center for Pre-College Programs at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Dr. Kimmel is currently providing his services on a part-time basis as a Special Assistant for Teacher Training and Curriculum Development with a focus on alignment of teaching practices with the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. He has spent almost forty years designing and implementing professional development programs, curricula, and assessment of student learning for K-12 teachers in STEM. At the college level, he collaborates on projects exploring teaching methodologies and assessment strategies in undergraduate courses in the sciences, engineering, and computer science. Dr. Kimmel has received numerous awards in recognition of his service, including: ASEE 1985 Vincent Bendix Minorities in Engineering Award, and ASEE CENTENNIAL MEDALION for ”Significant Lasting Impact on Engineering Education,” 1993. The NJIT Foundation Overseers Public and Institute Service Award, 1981 (First Recipient) and in 2005; and the Allan R. Cullimore Distinguished Service Award (NJIT) for 1991.

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Crafting a Successful High School Engineering Program (RTP Strand 3)The Next Generation Science Standards incorporate engineering in many topicsbecause the engineering design method parallels scientific method. Like science,engineering also requires critical thinking and curiosity, with a variety of subjects, ordisciplines as they are known, which often overlap. While engineering depends on theprinciples established by science, it has however, its own identity and thought process,which might explain why pre-college engineering programs are still relatively new. Toteach engineering from its point of view requires new content and a new teachingmethod. The product of the engineering design is technology, so hands on and practicalapplications are required, along with methods of documentation. Teachers also need anew relationship with students. To teach creative problem solving and productivetroubleshooting students must learn not to fear failure, instead to value what it canreveal and exploit it. To make this happen the teacher must relinquish some control inorder to enable to students to own the process.This paper documents the story of a successful homegrown three year pre-engineeringprogram after six years. The course that began the program, and is still its mainstay, isa fundamentals course called Intro to Engineering, Primarily for 11th and 12th graderstudents which can stand alone as preparation for a college engineering program. Thecourse includes: the engineering design method, systems engineering, creative problemsolving, reverse engineering, team building exercises, and an overview of theengineering disciplines and applications. Each topic includes introductory notes, aglossary of terms, with a quiz, problem sets, at least one project, and documentation.Since a textbook is not used, students are expected to build a reference binder fornotes, handouts, and assignments, and maintain an engineering notebook for theirsmall projects. In the second year engineering class, students select their own projectsand build a personal portfolio. Lightly structured, the Engineering class comes with aFIRST Tech Challenge robotics team, a chapter of the Technology StudentsAssociation, and access to local programs and competitions. Some students arrive witha portfolio in hand. The teacher serves as resource and mentor, as the studentspresent weekly plans and progress for a grade. This year a third course is being pilotedcalled Engineering Technology. Designed primarily for 9th grade students, the coursefocuses on engineering design, project management and hands on technical skills,allowing them to advance to the Intro to Engineering course with a richer preparation.Evaluation will include the effectiveness of the course and program impact on thestudents, and an assessment of the student work.

Aloia, M. A., & Kimmel, H. S. (2015, June), Crafting a Successful High School Engineering Program Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23753

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