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Engineering Ambassadors Network: Progress in 2014 on Creating a National Network of Ambassadors

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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

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.612.1 - 26.612.12



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Paper Authors


Michael Alley Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Michael Alley is an associate professor of engineering communication at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Craft of Scientific Presentations (Springer-Verlag) and a co-founder of the Engineering Ambassadors Network.

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Christine Haas Engineering Ambassadors Network

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Christine Haas brings ten years of experience working in marketing and communications with a focus on the science and engineering fields. She’s held positions as the director of marketing for Drexel’s College of Engineering and director of operations for Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Engineering.

Now, as CEO of Christine Haas Consulting, LLC, Christine travels around the world teaching courses to scientists and engineers on presentations and technical writing. She has taught clients across government, industry and higher education, including Texas Instruments, Brookhaven National Laboratory, European Southern Observatory (Chile), Simula Research Laboratory (Norway) and the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. Christine works closely with Penn State University faculty Michael Alley (The Craft of Scientific Presentations and The Craft of Scientific Writing) and Melissa Marshall (TED, “Talk Nerdy to Me”) on these courses.

Christine is also the director of the Engineering Ambassadors Network, a start-up organization at 25 plus universities worldwide that teaches presentation skills to undergraduate engineering students, particularly women and underrepresented groups in engineering. These Engineering Ambassadors develop valuable leadership and communication skills, which they apply through engineering outreach to middle and high school students.

Christine received her MBA in marketing and international business from Drexel University and her BA in English and film from Dickinson College.

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Joanna K. Garner Old Dominion University


Karen A. Thole Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Karen A. Thole is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Department Head of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University.She was recognized by the White House for being a Champion of a Change in her efforts to help establish the Engineering Ambassadors. In 2014, she was also recognized by SWE through the Distinguished Engineering Educator Award.

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  Engineering Ambassadors Network: Progress in Year 2 on Creating a National Network of Ambassadors To solve today’s engineering challenges, we need a wide range of solutions, which can berealized only by having enough engineers with diverse and strong technical backgrounds.Workforce studies have shown that the number of students being educated in STEM (science,technology, engineering, and math) cannot meet projected demands [1]. Also, the currentenrollments in engineering are not diverse, especially among women, blacks, and Hispanics [2].On another issue, a recent survey of engineers in industry indicates a compelling need forengineers to have strong communication skills [3]. Addressing these challenges is the Engineering Ambassadors Network: a network ofprofessional development programs for undergraduate engineering students with an outreachmission to middle and high schools. The development mission is to enrich the communicationand leadership skills of engineering undergraduates through academic programs. The outreachmission is to attract a diverse population of middle and high school students into engineering. Inshort, the Engineering Ambassadors Network places the right messenger (engineeringundergraduates with advanced presentation skills) with the right message (messages aboutengineering from Changing the Conversation [4]) in front of middle and high school students. This paper describes progress on the expansion of the Network during the second year ofthe program. In this second year, we held three training workshops at pilot schools and aregional workshop at a member school that included over 100 trainees from seven schools. Inaddition, we created materials to enable pilot programs to teach advanced communication skillsto new members so that they can perform the outreach. Support for these four workshops andtraining materials arose from a grant from the National Science Foundation [5]. In addition, theefforts this year were deeply influenced by participation in an NSF I-Corps workshop [6].References1. Carnevale, A.P. and S.J. Rose (2011). The Undereducated American. Available at American Society of Engineering Education (2009). Available at publications/publications/college-profiles/2009-profile-engineering-statistics.pdf. Accessed October 1, 2011.3. ASME, “Vision 2030―Creating the Future of Mechanical Engineering Education,” American Society of Mechanical Engineers (New York: ASME, 2010).4. National Academy of Engineering, Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering (Washington, D.C.: NAE Press, 2008).5. _____________, _____________, ___________, and _________, “Type 2: Creating a National Network of Engineering Ambassadors: A Professional Development Program with an Outreach Mission,” National Science Foundation Grant 1323230 (College of Engineering, _____________________, 2013-2016).6. _____________, _____________, ___________, and _________, “Leveraging the I-Corps Model to Propagate and Scale the Innovative Approaches to Learning Made Possible by the Engineering Ambassador Program,” National Science Foundation Grant (College of Engineering, _____________________, 2014).  

Alley, M., & Haas, C., & Garner, J. K., & Thole, K. A. (2015, June), Engineering Ambassadors Network: Progress in 2014 on Creating a National Network of Ambassadors Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23950

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