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Evaluating the Impact of an Underwater Robotics Competition: Questions, Methodologies, and Findings

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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

Special Session Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the MATE International ROV Competition

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.648.1 - 22.648.20

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Paper Authors


Candiya Mann Washington State University, Social and Economic Sciences Research Center

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Candiya Mann is the independent evaluator for the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center’s National Science Foundation ATE and ITEST grants. She specializes in K-16 education and youth workforce issues and has conducted evaluations for clients including the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, United Way, school districts, community based organizations and workforce development agencies. Ms. Mann serves on the Advisory Group for the National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education Evaluation Community of Practice. Ms. Mann is a Senior Research Manager with the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center at Washington State University, where she has spent the past 10 years.

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Evaluating the Impact of an Underwater Robotics Competition: Questions, Methodologies and FindingsThe Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center has been sponsoring regional andinternational underwater robotics competitions for 10 years. In that period, thousands of studentsand educators have taken part in the independent evaluation of the program, reported annually tothe National Science Foundation. The evaluation sheds light on the impacts of involvement inthis hands-on engineering design competition. Evaluation topics include changes in studentawareness of and interest in pursuing a marine STEM career, interest in studying STEM topics,STEM knowledge and skills, and SCANS skills.Overall, evaluation results indicate that the competitions have had a profound effect on bothstudents and faculty. Students report that due to the competition they are more aware of careersin marine science and technology and are more interested in pursuing a career in these fields.The competitions have led to new opportunities for the students, including scholarships,internships, university admissions, and employment. Faculty report that the competitions havemotivated their students to improve their technical skills, as well as their skills in problemsolving, teamwork, and critical thinking.The competitions have had a positive impact on faculty as well. Faculty report that theirinvolvement in the competitions contributed to their own scientific and technical knowledge andopened new professional and educational opportunities for them, as well as new collaborativeopportunities for their schools.Over time, the MATE Center’s evaluation has continued to evolve, responding to shifts inprogramming as well as new topics of interest among educational researchers. For instance,recent research in the field has stressed the importance of family support in a student’s decisionto pursue a STEM career. (See Siobhan Bredin et al., A Summary of the Report on the NSFITEST Convening: Defining an Afterschool Research Agenda, June 2010.) In the 2009-2010MATE Center program-year, parental input was solicited for the first time. The majority of theparents of competition participants reported that participation in the competition influenced howthey envision their child’s future, making it easier to picture their children in a STEM career.They also provided observations of changes that they observed in their children due to thecompetition.This session will present an overview of the evaluation: methodology, evaluation challenges,research questions, and findings.

Mann, C. (2011, June), Evaluating the Impact of an Underwater Robotics Competition: Questions, Methodologies, and Findings Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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