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Defining Engineering in K-12 in North Carolina

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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

Engineering in K-12 Science and Mathematics Standards

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.367.1 - 23.367.32



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Paper Authors


Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Laura Bottomley received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1984 and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1985 from Virginia Tech. She received her Ph D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1992.
Dr. Bottomley worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories as a member of technical staff in Transmission Systems from 1985 to 1987, during which time she worked in ISDN standards, including representing Bell Labs on an ANSI standards committee for physical layer ISDN standards. She received an Exceptional Contribution Award for her work during this time.
After receiving her Ph D., Dr. Bottomley worked as a faculty member at Duke University and consulted with a number of companies, such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Ericsson. In 1997 she became a faculty member at NC State University and became the Director of Women in Engineering and K-12 Outreach. She has taught classes at the university from the freshman level to the graduate level, and outside the university from the kindergarten level to the high school level. She is currently teaching courses in engineering, electrical engineering and elementary education.
Dr. Bottomley has authored or co-authored more than 40 technical papers, including papers in such diverse journals as the IEEE Industry Applications Magazine and the Hungarian Journal of Telecommunications. She received the President's Award for Excellence in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Mentoring program award in 1999 and individual award in 2007. She was recognized by the IEEE with an EAB Meritorious Achievement Award in Informal Education in 2009 and by the YWCA with an appointment to the Academy of Women for Science and Technology in 2008. Her program received the WEPAN Outstanding Women in Engineering Program Award in 2009. In 2011 she was recognized as the Women of the Year by the Women’s Transportation Seminar in the Research Triangle and as the Tarheel of the Week. Her work was featured on the National Science Foundation Discoveries web site. She is a member of Sigma Xi, past chair of the K-12 and Precollege Division of the American Society of Engineering Educators and a Senior Member of the IEEE.

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Elizabeth A Parry North Carolina State University

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Defining Engineering in K-12 in North CarolinaA great deal of national attention has recently been focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering,and mathematics) education as an educational innovation. The truth is that science and mathematicshave always been taught. Technology, in the sense of instructional tools, has found its way into someplaces and not into others, and most STEM educational efforts really exclude engineering. More recentconversation has centered on so-called I-STEM, or integrated STEM, with the implication that the fourinvolved subjects are not stand-alone but really have some interdependencies. Some groups want touse the term STEAM to officially recognize the important role of the arts. What is needed going forwardis not a debate on semantics, but a true paradigm shift in education. This is the role that engineeringcan play in K-12 and beyond, using knowledge and experience to solve problems.The state of North Carolina has had a history of leadership in educational matters. North Carolinacareer and technical education (CTE) already addresses many of the engineering topics that can be socritical to teaching children to think. Unfortunately, CTE does not extend into elementary school and isseverely limited in some middle schools for budgetary reasons. CTE in high school has a distinguishedhistory. Here, however, the teaching of engineering-related topics has become strongly linked to specificengineering content classes. Other CTE courses and other programs throughout the curriculum do notcontain engineering content. Thinking of engineering, not as a discipline but as an integrator andbringer of relevance to any class, represents a true paradigm shift.This paper describes a recent effort to write educational standards for the state of North Carolina thatdefine engineering in the K-12 space. The effort began with the various standards in use in other statesand incorporated information from NAE publications, the NAEP Technological and Engineering literacyframework and the original States Career Clusters work. Over twenty separate sources were used tocraft the outline of these standards. The standards themselves will be defined as well as how they arebeing incorporated as a set of connections for other, tested, subjects in the Standard Course of Study forNorth Carolina.

Bottomley, L., & Parry, E. A. (2013, June), Defining Engineering in K-12 in North Carolina Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19381

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