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Far-Post Assessment of a Sustainability Engineering High School Outreach Program

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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

High School Engineering Programs, Curriculum, and Evaluation

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.711.1 - 22.711.13



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Paper Authors


Deanna H. Matthews Carnegie Mellon University

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Dr. Deanna H. Matthews is Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs and Assistant Teaching Professor in Engineering and Public Policy, and Education Director and researcher in the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. In her role in Engineering and Public Policy, Dr. Matthews oversees the undergraduate programs in EPP, including coordination of the undergraduate double major and minor curricula, undergraduate student advising, and teaching introductory courses in engineering and public policy. In the Green Design Institute, an interdisciplinary research center that focuses on the intersection of environmental and economic issues, her research centers on the development and deployment of the Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment tool, examining energy life cycles of new products, corporate environmental management, and educating general populations about energy-environment issues. As Education Director, she oversees education and outreach initiatives for the Green Design Institute. She has assisted in the development of executive education programs for environmental professionals to gain business-related knowledge and skills, and for business professionals to gain knowledge and skills in the area of life cycle assessment. She is the coordinator and instructor of outreach programs to K-12 students and teachers in school settings and informal educational events. She received her B.S.E. in Civil Engineering from Duke University (1994) and her M.S. (1995) and Ph.D. (2001) in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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Far-Post Assessment of a Sustainability Engineering High School Outreach ProgramThe Green Design Apprenticeship, offered since 2004 by the Green Design Institute at CarnegieMellon University, is an outreach program for gifted and talented high school students interestedin learning about academic and career options in engineering, especially options related tosustainability issues. The Green Design Apprenticeship is one of several apprenticeshipopportunities offered through the Gifted and Talented Program of the Allegheny IntermediateUnit (AIU) in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The AIU supports multiple school districts in the areawith special education needs that individual schools cannot support themselves. The AIUmarkets the Apprenticeship program to teachers and schools, accepts and evaluates applications,and selects the final cohort of students for each apprenticeship. Students who participate in theGreen Design Apprenticeship excel at science and math and have burgeoning interests inpursuing engineering, but want to learn more about the opportunities of the profession. Eachcohort has included approximately 20 participants mainly from higher achieving, suburbanschool districts.A main objective of the program is to introduce students to the intersection of engineeringdecision-making with environmental and social issues. The content of the program framesactivities around the theme of “life cycle thinking” and emphasizes the trade-offs in materialsand energy inputs and environmental impacts across life cycle stages. Current research work offaculty and graduate students affiliated with the Department of Civil and EnvironmentalEngineering and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy are highlighted throughout theprogram.We hope participants take this “life cycle thinking” into future academic and career endeavors,regardless of what engineering field (or non-engineering field) they decide to pursue. Post-program assessments indicate that participants were engaged in the activities, and were excited tolearn about engineering, and the role engineers have in society (Matthews, et al 2009). Perhapsthe best testament to the program’s success is that two past participants, both female, haveenrolled in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. Aninitial far-post survey of participants in the first 3 years of the program indicates that the programis influencing student decisions to enter engineering fields and fields where environmentalliteracy is a key consideration. A second far-survey of participants from more recent years isplanned for Fall 2010. The paper will present a brief overview of the program and content, butwill mainly focus on the long-term impact of the program. We will report on results from thefar-post surveys on the academic decisions of past participants, and the lasting messages studentsgleaned from the program.Matthews, D. H., T. R. Hawkins, P. Jaramillo, J. Marriott, and A. L. Sharrard. “The GreenDesign Apprenticeship: How an Outreach Program Strengthens Graduate Research” Journal ofIndustrial Ecology 2009 v13, n3, p467-476.

Matthews, D. H. (2011, June), Far-Post Assessment of a Sustainability Engineering High School Outreach Program Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17992

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