June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
14.743.1 - 14.743.15
Inspiring a Diverse Population of High School Students to Choose Engineering as a Career Path
Abstract A week-long, summer day-program was created to expose and inspire high school students to consider engineering as a career path. The goals of the program were to 1) bring high school students of diverse backgrounds to our university campus, 2) excite kids about engineering as a profession that is creative and helps society, 3) expose students to different engineering disciplines, 4) provide positive experiences with hands-on engineering activities, and 5) encourage and help prepare the young students to study engineering in college. Extensive recruiting was performed by the College of Engineering Outreach Coordinator, who visited targeted schools and developed relationships with teachers and counselors. As a result, 55% of the program attendees were from underrepresented groups, including 29% female students. To support underrepresented and first-generation students, numerous scholarships and transportation were provided by industry partners.
Ten different engineering disciplines were highlighted as different hands-on lab activities. Current university engineering students assisted as program counselors and acted as role models to the program attendees. In addition, campus tours, industry tours, seminars, and recreational time were built into the schedule. The program culminated in a Showcase open to the public, friends, and family where the program attendees could share their experiences and display their work.
While the goals for the program were met, we also researched what type of impact the program had on the high school students. The program attendees participated in an end-of-the-week survey to assess the impact of the program in terms of their self-perceived abilities, knowledge, and attitudes towards engineering. A statistical analysis of responses on a 7 point Likert scale showed an increase in four different areas measured and quantitatively demonstrated meeting our goals. However, the survey results also revealed a great propensity of participants already interested and planning to study engineering. These results will help us to refine our goals, future marketing approaches, and development of the summer program.
Introduction The Grand Challenges identified by the National Academy of Engineers (NAE)1 and the global nature of engineering in the 21st century require a diverse set of engineers with innovative ideas and a mindset towards the helping society. Thus, the “Rise Above the Gathering Storm” report calls for enlarging the pipeline of students and increasing the number of bachelor’s degrees in sciences and engineering. 2 In efforts to diversify our university’s pipeline to the College of Engineering, we offered a summer engineering program for high school students.
Engineering Days at Cal Poly University was started in 2007 as a pilot program directed by the Women’s Engineering Program. Twenty students attended the camp, which was designed to introduce high school students (especially underrepresented groups) to engineering. For 2008,
Chen, K., & Belter, D., & Fredeen, T., & Smith, H., & Magnusson, S. (2009, June), Inspiring A Diverse Population Of High School Students To Choose Engineering As A Career Path Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5004
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