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Enhancing the Future of America’s Competitiveness through Entrepreneurial Engineering

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovative Methods to Teach Engineering to URMs

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.623.1 - 22.623.11



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Paper Authors


Carolyn A Vallas University of Virginia

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Carolyn Vallas is a General Faculty member and the Director of the Center for Diversity in Engineering (CDE), at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) since 1998. Her responsibility over the past twenty five years has focused on diversity initiatives with emphasis on outreach and retention programs for women and minorities in engineering. This involves a strong collaborative working relationship with engineering faculty and other departments on campus as well as with school districts, governmental and private industry. In addition, she is the PI and CoPI for several National Science Foundation (NSF) grants; such as a Research Experience for Teachers Site (REU); NSF STEP grant, collaborating with Thomas Nelson Community College, which concentrates on increasing the number of transfers who graduate from SEAS and entering the engineering workforce and the NSF VA_NC-LSAMP grant. She is also the Executive Director of three stellar STEM outreach precollege programs: Introduction to Engineering, ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp and the LEAD: Summer Engineering Institute (SEI). She has particular research interest in the education of the underrepresented population in the STEM fields; focusing on teachers and students preparation, retention and persistence factors.

She is also the past National President of her professional organization the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program (NAMEPA); where her interest continues to be to develop partnerships to broaden NAMEPA’s footprint nationally. She works very closely as the Faculty Advisor with the student chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society of Hispanic and Professional Engineers (SHPE), the American Indian Science, Engineering Society (AISES) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She is a member of the Women in Engineering Programs and Advocates Network (WEPAN), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and Chair’s SHPE national committee for Advisors of chapters across the country.

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Wraegen Williams University of Virginia, Center for Diversity in Engineering

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Wraegen Williams graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in December 2007 with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. After completing her doctoral studies, she obtained a lectureship position at a small university where the minority population of both students and faculty was limited. This issue piqued her interest in discovering more about diversity issues in higher education. As a Mirzayan Fellow at the National Academies, she gained insight as to how polices are prepared, reviewed, and implemented to create a diversified workforce. She feels that the Fellowship aided her pursuit of a career in higher-educational administration. Currently, Wraegen works as a research associate in the Center for Diversity in Engineering at the University of Virginia. As a research associate, she helps to organize and execute a number of summer programs that are designed to interest middle and high school students in science and technology disciplines. Additionally, she takes time to mentor and provide support to undergraduate students who will soon become the future workforce of research scientists and engineers and interacts with faculty members, department chairs and deans that are interested in volunteering their time to the numerous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs that the Center coordinates.

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Attracting young MINDS - outreach and recruitment of minority engineeringstudents (including K-12) Enhancing the Future of America’s Competitiveness through Entrepreneurial EngineeringAbstractA unique engineering outreach approach hosted on our campus recruits andequips future engineers from underrepresented backgrounds by providingparticipants with a glimpse of the practical innovation and entrepreneurialspirit that will be needed for America to compete in the diverse globaleconomy. The Leadership, Education, and Development Summer EngineeringInstitute (LEAD-SEI) has been designed and implemented with the aim ofinstilling an interest in computer science, engineering and entrepreneurshipamong rising tenth and eleventh graders.LEAD-SEI’s three-week core summer curriculum consists of a novel teambased research project and computer science. These components allow groupsto develop innovative solutions, products/prototypes, business plans andtechnology driven presentations to address real world problems; including theglobal challenges of the 21st century. In addition to the aspects describedabove, participants learn the scope of the different engineering fields fromUniversity professors and graduate students. Beyond discovering computerscience and engineering, team building exercises, site visits of corporate andgovernment facilities, and other traditional enrichment activities areincorporated into the curriculum.Within this manuscript, the distribution analysis of the applicants’ race andgender, curriculum critiques along with the qualitative assessment surveyreviews will be discussed. Additionally, we will present qualitative data thatshows how this innovative entrepreneurial technology team-based approachhas aided in the recruitment of underrepresented students to the fields ofcomputer science and engineering; thereby enhancing the future of America’scompetitiveness.

Vallas, C. A., & Williams, W. (2011, June), Enhancing the Future of America’s Competitiveness through Entrepreneurial Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17904

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