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Evaluation of an Energy and Engineering Outreach Program for High School and Middle School Students

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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


Tony Lee Kerzmann Robert Morris University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Tony Kerzmann received both a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Duquesne University and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004. After graduating, Tony Kerzmann enrolled in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh where he graduated with a Master in Science and a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering, in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Currently, Tony Kerzmann is an associate professor at Robert Morris University, where his research areas include, hybrid concentrating photovoltaic systems, energy systems, life cycle assessment, sustainable product development, engineering entrepreneurship, alternative energy systems, renewable energy education and active learning.

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John Howard Walker University of Pittsburgh


David V.P. Sanchez University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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David Sanchez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Assistant Director for the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. He directs the Sustainable Design Labs that is currently focused on fusing sustainability principles and design thinking to address the Water and Energy grand challenges in the natural and built environment. Current projects include: Renewable electrode materials for Microbial Fuel Cells and the Electro-Fenton process, Recirculating Aquaponic Systems, Environmental Quality wireless sensor networks, and incorporating Sustainable Design/Innovation into engineering curricula.

He serves as a director for Pitt’s Design EXPO and a variety of the Mascaro Center’s Sustainability programs including the Manchester Academic Charter School “Green week” and the Teach the Teacher program. Dr. Sanchez teaches Introduction to Sustainable Water Technology and Design, classes in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and the Swanson School of Engineering Freshmen program. He works closely with K-12 initiatives and outreach programs including Investing Now, Energy Ties, and the ALCOSAN outreach program.

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The education and influence of students in the STEM fields has great importance in modern society, especially with our ever-increasing reliance on new technologies. A collaboration between two universities engaged over 700 students and teachers. The authors designed engineering-based curriculum, hands-on lessons, and demonstrations that were focused on energy. The curriculum exposed students and teachers to fundamental science and engineering concepts. Many of the activities for these outreach activities engaged participants in a 3-tiered energy challenge by designing and fabricating prototypes that demonstrate: (1) Energy generation and conversion, (2) Increased energy efficiency, and (3) Energy use monitoring and control.

The design and physical modeling that was employed in the outreach events using energy technologies requires students and teachers to practice high-level thinking (e.g. analysis, synthesis, evaluation) in teams while building a culture geared toward energy technology innovation. The participants were introduced to concepts from traditional engineering curricula such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and dynamics, while working with principles of renewable and non-renewable energy technologies used in industry, such as the photovoltaic effect. Some of the participants were given pre-tests and post-tests to evaluate the success of the outreach events in developing their awareness and understanding of energy and engineering, measure their level of engagement with the activities, and evaluate their attitudes towards team work. This paper will present the energy curriculum, hands-on energy laboratories, design and fabrication challenge and the results from the pre- and post-tests.

Kerzmann, T. L., & Walker, J. H., & Sanchez, D. V. (2016, June), Evaluation of an Energy and Engineering Outreach Program for High School and Middle School Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26775

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