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How to Develop Alaska Native STEM Students in Middle School and High School

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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

Expanding the Perspectives of Underrepresentation in Engineering

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Michele Yatchmeneff University of Alaska Anchorage

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Michele Yatchmeneff is Unangax (Aleut) who grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle in rural villages along Alaska’s Aleutian chain. She earned a BS in Civil Engineering in 2005 and an MS in Engineering Management in 2009 at University of Alaska Anchorage. After earning her BS she began working in Alaska’s construction and engineering industry, specializing in water and sewer projects in remote villages across the state. She also worked as the Deputy Director of the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP). Professor Yatchmeneff earned her PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her research focuses on motivation and success for Alaska Native pre-college students.

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Herbert P. Schroeder University of Alaska, Anchorage

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Herb Ilisaurri Schroeder received his PhD in civil engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. He is currently Vice Provost for ANSEP (Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program) and Founder at the University of Alaska Anchorage and Professor of Engineering. In 2009, Dr. Schroeder was honored by the creation of an endowed chair in his name at the University of Alaska Anchorage with $4.4 million in donations from the ANSEP partner organizations. He is the recipient of the White House 2004 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring; the Alaska Federation of Natives 2005 Denali Award, the greatest honor presented by the Federation to a non-Native; and the NACME 2009 Reginald H. Jones Distinguished Service Award.

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Matthew E. Calhoun University of Alaska, Anchorage Orcid 16x16

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Preparing students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is a common problem in secondary schools across the nation. According to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, 96% of underrepresented minorities that graduate from high school are unprepared and not ready to study engineering by not taking pre-calculus, chemistry, and physics prior to arriving at the university. In Alaska, Alaska Natives have the worst performance as compared to all other ethnicities in mathematics and science and these courses are crucial to prepare and retain students in college for STEM degree programs. These statistics are alarming; however, there is one longitudinal program, called Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP) that defies these rates and is a model of excellence.

This paper presents the new results from a multi-year qualitative case study of ANSEP and is an expansion of the ASEE paper titled “A Qualitative Study of Motivation in ANSEP Precollege Students” that was included in 2015 National Conference Proceedings. ANSEP works with Alaska Native students from middle school to the doctorate level in hands-on STEM activities and requires students to complete college level mathematics and science courses, while in high school, which are needed to prepare them for STEM degrees. This research study focused on answering “How do Alaska Native students participating in ANSEP describe the program’s role at motivating them to take advanced mathematics and science courses in high school?” Also, understanding why this model program helped Alaska Native precollege students stay engaged and excel through the pipeline from middle school to the university. These results indicate that a university program can take an active role to better prepare students prior to entering college and by retaining students in a STEM degree at rates exceeding national averages.

Yatchmeneff, M., & Schroeder, H. P., & Calhoun, M. E. (2016, June), How to Develop Alaska Native STEM Students in Middle School and High School Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27308

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