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Introducing Native American Community College Students To Engineering Through Hands On Exploratory Projects

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.974.1 - 12.974.11



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Paper Authors


Wei Lin North Dakota State University

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Dr. Wei Lin is an Associate Professor of environmental engineering in North Dakota State University. He also serves as the Director of the interdisciplinary Environmental and Conservation Sciences graduate program. Dr. Lin teaches environmental and water resources courses at undergraduate and graduate levels. His research areas include water and wastewater treatment technologies, wetland studies, and river water quality modeling and management. He has participated in the ONR, NASA and ND EPSCoR funded Native American educational outreach projects as program coordinator and program director. He has worked collaboratively with tribal college instructors and high school teachers. He serves as the faculty advisor for American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Student Chapter at NDSU.

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G. Padmanabhan North Dakota State University

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Scott Pryor North Dakota State University

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Dennis Wiesenborn North Dakota State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introducing Native American Community College Students to Engineering through Hands-on Exploratory Projects Wei Lin1, G. Padmanbhan1, Scott Pryor2, Dennis Wiesenborn2 1 Civil Engineering, 2Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering North Dakota State University

Abstract Each year in the past seven years, a summer camp at North Dakota State University has attracted tribal college students and tribal high school graduates from the Indian Reservations in North Dakota to learn science, technology, and engineering. One of the activities of the camp is to engage the participants in exploring specific science/engineering subjects through hands-on activities. Students are provided with opportunities to select topics they are interested in. They are divided into small groups, usually 2 to 3 students in a group, and spend one week with university professors working on different projects. Professors from 5 engineering departments and 2 science departments have participated in this activity. Through the years, various topics have been selected to connect students to key subjects of different disciplines, to expose them to contemporary engineering issues and challenges, and to attract them to engineering programs. Professors are encouraged to develop project activities that cover fundamental science/engineering concepts, stimulate critical thinking of the students, and introduce students to procedures of scientific thinking and research. Based on experiences and lessons learned from working with Native American students, professors have been constantly looking for methods to connect with these students by improving hands-on activities to engage them in exploratory learning. In this paper, a set of instructional projects are used as examples to illustrate different approaches and activities that have been used to involve students in active learning through experimental studies. Methods and materials developed in this program have received positive responses from participating students and professors and are applicable to other student groups who are interested in learning science and engineering.

Introduction Finding ways to increase enrollment and graduation rate of Native American students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines is a challenge to Native American and other educators. A nationwide increase of enrollment of Native Americans in college program has been observed in recent years due to improved high school completion rate (Bacbo, 2005). However, Native Americans and other underrepresented minorities (blacks, Hispanics) still do not enroll in or complete post-secondary education at comparable rates as whites (National Science Board, 2006).

Native American community is the largest minority in North Dakota. Native American population is approximately 5.2% of the total North Dakota population as compared to a national average of 1.0% (U.S. Census Bureau). Most of the 35,000 North Dakota Native Americans reside on five Indian Reservations in remote rural areas, where unemployment rate is usually higher than 50% (Lam, 1997). Forty three percent of this population is under the age of 20 years. Improving education, especially STEM education, on reservations has been a priority of both tribal government and the state. Education of this young population will play an important role in improving economic conditions on reservations.

Lin, W., & Padmanabhan, G., & Pryor, S., & Wiesenborn, D. (2007, June), Introducing Native American Community College Students To Engineering Through Hands On Exploratory Projects Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2563

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