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Engineering Virtual Design Competition – A Solution for High School Summer Outreach During the Pandemic and Beyond (Evaluation)

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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 Technical Session 11

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


J. Jill Rogers The University of Arizona

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J. Jill Rogers is the assistant director for ENGR 102 HS at the University of Arizona. ENGR 102 HS is an AP-type, dual credit college level, introductory engineering course offered to high school students. In 2014, the ENGR 102 HS program won the ASEE best practices in K-12 and University partnerships award. Over the years Rogers has developed K-12 science summer camps, conducted K-12 educational research, developed engineering curricula for formal and informal education venues, and developed robotics outreach programs for children’s museums and K-12 schools. Rogers is a certified teacher and holds a Master’s of Science in Education. Her Master’s thesis topic examined middle school student attitudes towards robotics and focused on gender differences. She is a member of the National Science Teachers Association, Philanthropic Educational Organization (P.E.O) and American Society for Engineering Education. Her interest lies in the K-12 pathways to engineering and ways to bring young people, particularly under represented populations, into STEM careers.

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Tirupalavanam G. Ganesh Arizona State University

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Tirupalavanam G. Ganesh is Tooker Professor and Assistant Dean of Engineering Education at Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He is Associate Research Professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy. He is an engineer, educator and education researcher who designs, implements and studies learning environments that offer opportunities for mastery learning. His research is aimed at designing, implementing, and systematically studying the impact of engineering education and fostering engineering identity in students. He is also studying entry and persistence in engineering of first generation, women, and under-represented ethnic minorities.

Ganesh is an avid reader and collects books. He enjoys photography, in particular he enjoys taking pictures of nature and doors.

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Jennifer Velez M.Ed. Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University

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In 2013, Velez joined the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering as a Program Coordinator Senior with the K-12 Engineering Education and Outreach team. Since then, Velez has managed such programs as FIRST LEGO League Robotics, MESA, and the National Summer Transportation Institute. She currently coordinates EPICS High (Engineering Projects in Community Service) to engage high school and middle school students in human-centered engineering projects in their communities. Through this program, Velez works to build partnerships with school districts, industry, and non-profits to bring STEM programming to underserved communities across the state. Before joining ASU, Velez spent seven years as an elementary educator at a STEM focus school. She currently holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.

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Aspects of society and culture that encompass the response to COVID-19 have impacted all lives, including those of K-12 students and their families. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic offers a complex context in which students can experience ambiguity with an engineering design challenge as an iterative process of divergent-convergent thinking while focusing on the big picture. Students can learn with an emphasis on systems thinking, making decisions in a collaborative team environment; and managing uncertainty in social processes [1]. The conversations around how schools could function during the pandemic offered a unique opportunity to engage students in problem solving about a situation that they are experiencing themselves. In the US Southwest, three state universities came together during the early stages of the 2020 pandemic lockdown to create a virtual design competition for high school students. A collaboration among three state universities, the TriU Partnership, that included engineering college deans, faculty, and college recruitment and outreach staff was formed as an outgrowth of a National Science Foundation, INCLUDES project [2]. One of the aims of this project was to increase engineering awareness and interest amongst a broad population of the state and thereby enhance entry into the state’s four-year university engineering programs. The TriU Partnership served 96 high school students from 4 different states in a virtual educational event offered in June 2020. The students were placed in twenty-five teams and asked to consider the challenges their high schools faced in achieving a safe reopening in a pandemic. Over six days, participants attended online seminars, consulted with experts and worked with engineering undergraduate mentors to come up with creative engineering solutions for protective equipment, hallway traffic patterns, bell schedules and social distancing in various high school settings. Final submissions included a detailed engineering notebook, a live online presentation, and interviews with a team of expert judges. The expert judge panel was composed of engineering faculty and industry partners. Teams also submitted prototypes and, in some cases, complete CAD drawings. In this paper, we tell the story of the TriU engineering partnership, share the logistics of the virtual design challenge, talk about lessons learned and share results. Data sources include student survey responses, daily exit tickets, and materials produced such as their final presentation, notebooks, and solutions. The multiple positive outcomes of student participation include enhanced student awareness about engineering as a college major choice and interest in pursuing an engineering career. In addition, students demonstrated the use of engineering practices and mindsets as evidenced in their collaborative work. The TriU Partnership will continue with each university taking the lead in turns, in offering the design challenge each summer as part of their normal outreach efforts.

Rogers, J. J., & Ganesh, T. G., & Velez, J. (2021, July), Engineering Virtual Design Competition – A Solution for High School Summer Outreach During the Pandemic and Beyond (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37078

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