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Developing a Pathway to Post-Secondary Study of Engineering for Underrepresented Secondary Students (Work in Progress, Diversity)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Adrianne J. Wheeler Project SYNCERE

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Adrianne is currently the Director of Programs at Project SYNCERE, a Chicago-based engineering education nonprofit devoted to creating pathways of opportunity for underrepresented students to pursue STEM careers. She received her Bachelors of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently working towards her Doctor of Education at DePaul University. Her interests are in STEM diversity, K-12 STEM recruitment and secondary pre-service STEM teacher development.

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Jason Coleman Project SYNCERE Orcid 16x16

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Jason Coleman, is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Project SYNCERE. Jason is a veteran engineer and STEM education leader with more than 20 years of experience. As the Executive Director of Project SYNCERE, he has grown the organization to become the largest youth serving STEM organization in Chicago, serving more than 3,500 students annually. Jason is currently serving as the Project Director on a recent Department of Education EIR grant that Project SYNCERE received to support their ENpowered engineering program. Jason has been instrumental in the design and implementation of programs and strategies that have changed the trajectory for thousands of high needs youth throughout Chicago.

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There is no question that engineering and other STEM careers are at the center of our country’s success. In recent years, the United States job market has seen growth in many engineering sectors, but the number of engineers available to fill this need has remained stagnant. Engineers stand at the forefront of developing the nation’s innovation as well as sustaining our ongoing development [1]. The ratio of STEM jobs available to the number of trained, qualified applicants is 13 to 1 [2]. In the state of Illinois, the ratios were as high as 18 to 1. The percentages of trained women and underrepresented minorities to fill these jobs is disproportionately lower. These statistics captured the attention of the nation’s science communities and highest levels of government. "The challenges to the national competitiveness and sustained STEM global leadership can be better met through the full utilization of all of the nation's talent and resources [3]."

Project SYNCERE is working to fill this void through its multi-year engineering program, E-CADEMY. E-CADEMY provides students in grades 6-11 with a guided pathway of opportunities that are aimed at developing their skills and interest in the STEM fields to ensure their success at the post-secondary level and beyond. The fundamental principles of YY are based on a combination of best practices from research including: a project-based learning (PBL) curriculum, high dosage model, cohort of like-minded peers, engagement with STEM professionals, family engagement and maximizing the use of out-of-school time [4]-[8].

This work in progress paper reviews the 1) program components, 2) preliminary outcomes, and 3) future considerations in the wake of COVID-19.

Wheeler, A. J., & Coleman, J. (2021, July), Developing a Pathway to Post-Secondary Study of Engineering for Underrepresented Secondary Students (Work in Progress, Diversity) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36935

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