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Developing Young Engineers – From Start To Finish

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

K-12 Engineering Outreach Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.401.1 - 13.401.9



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Paper Authors

author page

Larry Lim University of Southern California

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developing Young Engineers – From Start to Finish Abstract

Creating and maintaining an interest in engineering requires a multi-year, multi-faceted effort that begins in elementary school. The University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering offers a continuum of k-12 programs that provides a pipeline into engineering as a college major.

Our efforts begin with a program for elementary school students – Mission Science. Located in eight sites in both the University Park (central Los Angeles) and Health Sciences (east Los Angeles) campus neighborhoods, Mission Science provides hands-on workshops, with tools and workbenches so students can develop projects on their own, experiment with equipment and ideas, and learn about science in an informal setting. The fundamental purposes of Mission Science are to reinforce the natural curiosity of children and to help develop enthusiasm about science and technology by providing "hands-on" activities, demonstrations, projects, and experiments. More than 500 students participate annually.

Following Mission Science is our Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program. MESA identifies students with interest and potential for an engineering career. MESA students meet on a regular basis and participate in a variety of motivational, informational, academic, and competitive activities that prepare them for college and a major in engineering, math, or science. The program exists in twenty-two middle and high schools, serving nearly 1500 students each year, with more than 90% of the seniors enrolling in college upon graduation.

During the summer, we offer Discover Engineering, a month-long, residential program to introduce high school students to the various engineering disciplines. In addition to academic work, students participate in field trips to engineering work-sites. Students receive three units of college elective credit for completing the program. In 2008, in addition to Discover Engineering, we will also offer a two-week, commuter program, Mission Engineering, specifically targeting educationally disadvantaged students.

To promote student competitiveness, the Viterbi School of Engineering is also a host site for two national competitions: JETS-TEAMS and FIRST Robotics. These competitions give students the “hands-on” experience of engineering, and the excitement of participating in a technical competition.

Our Pre-College program office also offers professional development to teachers to aid them to sharpen their skills and increase their understanding of science and engineering. This is done via a two-week, summer Math, Physics, Technology Institute. MPTI brings together math and science teachers from both high schools and middle schools, and provides them with math and physics curriculum and lessons, using Texas Instruments technology, that they can then incorporate into the curriculum at their respective high schools.

Creating a pipeline for future engineers requires creative ideas, resources, and educational activities that promote the field to students of all ages. Developing a model that can address the needs of students at various levels of the educational spectrum is key to the success of this effort.

Lim, L. (2008, June), Developing Young Engineers – From Start To Finish Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3556

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