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Engineering Outreach on Campus: A Comprehensive Survey of 109 Programs at 91 Colleges and Universities (Fundamental)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Outreach in K12 through College Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Eric Iversen Start Engineering

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Eric Iversen is the Vice President for Learning and Communications at Start Engineering. He has over 25 years experience in learning activities, encompassing work in non-profit, academic, and for-profit organizations. He was Manager of Public Affairs at ASEE, where he helped start many of the society's K-12 engineering education activities.

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Colleges and universities have mounted significant outreach efforts to present a full, appealing picture of engineering to outside audiences. In spite of nearly pervasive practice, outreach has largely escaped systematic, comprehensive examination. The vast majority of outreach studies have focused on single programs. Attention to outreach as a field of activity at colleges and universities is almost non-existent. As a result, little data are available for consulting on questions such as why colleges and universities do outreach, whom they reach, what kinds of outreach events they offer, how they are staffed and paid for, among many other pertinent issues.

This report, “Engineering Outreach on Campus,” is based on a survey of 109 outreach programs at 91 institutions, conducted in late 2014. The survey asked questions about outreach programs’ purposes and audiences, the types, timing, and location of events offered, and program administration. Results show that engineering outreach is overwhelmingly directed at K-12 audiences, significantly focused on reaching groups under-represented in engineering, conducted in the name of purposes beneficial more to the field as a whole than individual institutions, highly varied in size and approach, and generally run on low budgets.

The benefits of gathering and understanding field-wide data about outreach are many. Most generally, it moves discussion of the field from the realm of anecdote and assumption to empirical data and reasoned analysis. Leaders of programs already in operation might use this information for benchmarking their own activities in relation to generally adopted norms. People starting new programs might take guidance from the distilled experiences of others in the field to initiate more reliably effective programs. Finally, aggregated data drawn from across a wide spectrum of outreach programs allow us to conceptualize outreach as a field in its own right. It can be seen and thought about as a set of activities with related motives and practices, rather than just ad hoc activities conducted among a sphere of local actors towards idiosyncratic ends.

Iversen, E. (2016, June), Engineering Outreach on Campus: A Comprehensive Survey of 109 Programs at 91 Colleges and Universities (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26656

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