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Distinctive and Unique Outreach Programs: Promoting Academic Excellence and Diversity

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Sustainability and Hands-on Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.438.1 - 24.438.12



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Paper Authors


Paula Ann Monaco Texas Tech University Orcid 16x16

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Paula is a first year Civil Engineering Ph.D. student and graduate of the Master of Environmental Engineering program at Texas Tech University. Her research interests include water and wastewater treatment, focusing on non-selective advanced oxidation processes for small scale water treatment facilities. Paula participates in outreach programs to help recruit female and URMs to STEM related careers.

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Audra N. Morse Texas Tech University

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Dr. Audra Morse, P.E., is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the Whitacre College of Engineering and a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas Tech University. She leads the Engineering Opportunities Center which provides retention, placement and academic support services to WCOE students.

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Distinctive and Unique Outreach Programs: Promoting Academic Excellence and Diversity Participation of K-12 students in outreach programs helps stimulate interest in science,technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields. These programs introduceunderrepresented students to a collegiate experience and dispel myths and fears about highereducation. One way to promote these experiences for students is participation in hands on classesthrough summer camps. Such classes expose females and historically underrepresented minority(URMs) students to the background theory covering design and applications of EnvironmentalEngineering. The [university] organizes two residential camps to introduce visiting students toSTEM topics specifically; Science It’s a Girl Thing (SIGT) and Shake Hands with Your Future(SHWYF). Three distinct groups of students participated in summer classes: internationalstudents from Brazil, female students only, and regional students of which the population wasfemales, URMs and traditional white males. Camp participants were surveyed to evaluate therelationship between student attitudes, performance, and recruitment into the environmentalengineering field. Campers participated in group and class discussions to present their findingsafter performing the following exercises: design, construction, and testing of water filter, landfilland oil clean-up scenarios. The classes highlighted the inter-disciplinary nature of the fieldthrough the aforementioned hands on exercises. Students that participated in group discussionsand asked questions showed better comprehension and interest in the course based on surveyresults. Verbal surveys were administered prior to introduction of educational content forevaluation of a student’s prior knowledge. After both the lesson and hands on activity, studentscompleted worksheets and participated in class discussions. These written and oral surveys werea means to evaluate the impact the activities had on student learning and recruitment toEnvironmental Engineering. The surveys indicated that the students in the female only classeshad a better understanding of the material compared to females participating in the mixed genderclass. International and traditional students shared similar background knowledge and performedsimilarly throughout the activities. Common results observed from surveying the three groupswere that the students were better able to connect theory and design principles to applicationafter performing hands on activities. It was observed that students became inspired andencouraged after planning, designing, constructing and testing an engineered solution duringvarious activities.I am eligible for the student award.

Monaco, P. A., & Morse, A. N. (2014, June), Distinctive and Unique Outreach Programs: Promoting Academic Excellence and Diversity Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20329

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