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Introduce Computer Engineering to Middle School Students through a Science Project

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Computational/CS Initiatives

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.811.1 - 23.811.10



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Paper Authors

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Suxia Cui Prairie View A&M University


Yonghui Wang Prairie View A&M University

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Dr. Yonghui Wang earned a B.S. in technical physics from Xidian University at Xi’an, China in 1993; an M.S. in electrical engineering from Beijing Polytechnic University at Beijing, China in 1999; and a Ph.D. in computer engineering from Mississippi State University at Starkville in 2003. From 1993 to 1996, he was an Engineer with the 41st Electrical Research Institute at Bengbu, China. From July 1999 to December 1999, he worked as an IT Specialist in IBM China, Beijing, China. From 2000 to 2003, he was a research assistant with the Visualization, Analysis, and Imaging Laboratory (VAIL), the GeoResources Institute (GRI), Mississippi State University. He is currently an Associate Professor with the Department of Engineering Technology, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, TX. His research interests include image and signal processing and image and video coding.

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A. Anil Kumar Prairie View A&M University

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Dr. Kumar obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He works with multiple school districts on state and national standards, relevance of science in the global economy and expanding opportunities for students, teachers and faculty in STEM disciplines. For the past five years he has been directing Project XLR8, a high school redesign project, funded by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is currently working on a monograph on redesigning education. For his work in public education and his achievements in research, he was one of five faculty members in the TAMU System to have received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Board of Regents and in 2009 he was a recipient of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Outstanding Achievement Award for School Reform.

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Introduce Computer Engineering to Middle School Students through a Science ProjectAbstractTo tackle the low enrollment and high drop rates challenges which the engineering programs arefacing nowadays, more and more university faculty members try to collaborate with K-12educators, and introduce basic science and engineering concepts to high school or middle schoolclasses. This has been proved to be effective in attracting talented students to STEM majors at anearly age. In the meantime, middle/high school students are surrounded by video games, robotics,internet, and other fascinating new inventions in the past decades. They are already anxiousabout using the cutting-edge technologies to explore the outside world. To answer the demandsfrom this new generation students, an increasing number of K-12 math and science teachers aresearching for technical support from higher educational institutions to generate new excitingscience projects to stimulate these curious youngsters. The demands from educators of both sidestie them together in establishing a collaboration platform which will benefit both parties. Herethe authors would like to share one good example that is collaborated between the University of__________ and a local middle school.The middle school is one of the NASA Explorer Schools in a metropolitan area. The schoolscience teacher focused on a weather balloon launching project which will send balloon to thenear space layer (65,000 to 325,000 feet above sea level) to collect real data and use them in theschool’s explorer club (roughly enrollment of 60 students per semester). To make the projectmore attractive and knowledgeable, they sought help from university professors on computersystem hardware connections and software design. To accomplish the goal, university facultymembers from Computer Engineering (CPE) and Computer Engineering Technology programsprovided their expertise in the system design. A low cost microcontroller is chosen to be the coreof the data collection system. Several sensors are added to measure the temperature, humidity,latitude, altitude and so on. A digital camera is mounted to take pictures during the launch. In theproject, the real microcontrollers greatly helped the students in quickly understanding howcomputer hardware and software work, which is much superior to simply reading examples intextbooks. This collaboration model also benefits the community in educating the communityabout the nature of CPE program. For the university, CPE is the newest program in College ofEngineering and just received its initial ABET accreditation. The collaboration platform providesthe opportunity for the program to advertise to the community, as well as helps the middle schoolteachers and students understand the nature of CPE program, which further will benefit theprogram’s recruitment in the future. In summary, this collaborated weather balloon project notonly educates middle school students about computer technology, but also provides universityprofessors a unique opportunity to reach middle school students which ultimately will help inrecruitment.

Cui, S., & Wang, Y., & Kumar, A. A. (2013, June), Introduce Computer Engineering to Middle School Students through a Science Project Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19825

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