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Implementation of a “Near-Peer” Mentoring Program between a High School Technology Class and a University Senior Design Engineering Class

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Design in K-12 Education

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


James S. Mokri P.E. San Jose State University

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Mr. Mokri is an adjunct professor in the SJSU Mechanical Engineering Department, 2007 to present, and has taught Senior Design Project, Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Fundamentals, Solar Energy Engineering, Thermal Engineering Lab, and advises post graduate students. He has consulted in these areas and encourages the students to appreciate the hands-on aspects of the engineering education. Mr. Mokri is applying knowledge gained from 32 years of engineering experience in the power industry working for General Electric Power Systems on both mechanical and electrical engineering projects. While at GE as Principal Engineer/Technical Leader he was an expert in AC electric motor and generator evaluation and application in nuclear plants, and was an industry conference presenter. Mr. Mokri is a registered Professional Engineer in California, is an ASME member and has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly University.

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Nicole Okamoto San Jose State University

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Nicole Okamoto is professor and chair of Mechanical Engineering at San Jose State University. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research areas are thermal system modelling and thermal management of electronics. She teaches courses in the thermal sciences at SJSU and is heavily involved with advising and assessment.

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Sorin Ion Neagu Independence High School

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“Near-Peer” mentoring has been shown to result in significant improvements in student engagement and achievement in STEM fields. This paper discusses the elements of a program between Independence High School (IHS) in San Jose and San Jose State University (SJSU) Mechanical Engineering to expand hands-on education and to encourage a STEM pathway for technical education of both the high school and SJSU students. IHS is a diverse high school with 97% minority students. Only 41% score as proficient in mathematics, and about half qualify for reduced-price or free lunches. SJSU ME Senior Design Project teams have been involved in this “Near-Peer” mentoring program connecting high school students with university mechanical engineering seniors. This is the 4th year of this collaboration, which focuses on automotive technology and has mutually benefited the mentors and mentees resulting in multiple high school students applying to schools of higher education and several that specifically have enrolled at SJSU.

This program assists with the challenge of preparing high school and university students for Silicon Valley high-skill careers directly in automotive technology and indirectly in other technical fields. Future transportation vehicles are expected to fit the ACES acronym of Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared all as part of the expected new smart transportation systems.

Last year, two student teams partnered with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to address two labor intensive bus maintenance issues applicable to more than 200 transit buses. With the help of IHS students, the SJSU students designed, built, and tested prototypes, including material fabrication, assembly and testing in both IHS and SJSU shops. This year two teams are partnering with Steven Creek Lexus to build a mechanized apparatus to remove the heavy high-voltage battery from Lexus hybrid vehicles and another apparatus to assist the technician reach awkward extended positions when working on elevated vehicles. Feedback from the IHS and SJSU instructors and students will included in the paper.

The STEM career pathway for high school students and the SJSU Senior Design capstone project is helping to build sustainable and locally-sourced Silicon Valley talent to fuel the region’s growth in the advanced transportation sector.

Mokri, J. S., & Okamoto, N., & Neagu, S. I. (2020, June), Implementation of a “Near-Peer” Mentoring Program between a High School Technology Class and a University Senior Design Engineering Class Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34767

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