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Introducing Underrepresented Minority High School Students To An Aeronautical Technology Program At Purdue University

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

MINDing Our Business

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.753.1 - 7.753.6



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Paper Authors

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Ronald Sterkenburg

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Main Menu Session 2002-45

Introducing Underrepresented Minority High School Students to an Aeronautical Technology Program at Purdue University

Ronald Sterkenburg, David L. Stanley

Purdue University

Abstract - The Purdue Aviation Technology Department developed an introductory aviation course for students participating in the six weeks Upward Bound rising sophomore program. Upward Bound is a pre-college preparatory program providing academic support, personal counseling and cultural enrichment for eligible low income and potential first-generation college participants in the East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, and the Lake Station target area. The goal of the introductory aviation course was to interest young people in the aviation industry, which is traditionally underrepresented by minorities. The students were exposed to all three components of the Aviation Program: Flight training, maintenance technology and business management. They were introduced to aerodynamics, propulsion, airframe structures and aircraft syst ems. A qualified pilot taught them the basics of flying a B-727 full motion flight simulator, and they made a flight in a light aircraft. As a final hands-on project the students built an aluminum winglet section. Last summer the faculty organized field trips to a major air carrier maintenance facility and an Air Force museum. The authors will discuss in this paper the unique challenges of developing a curriculum that attracts young minority students and the teaching strategies to overcome the cultural differences between minority students and faculty.

I. Overview of the Upward Bound program

Since 1966, Purdue University Calumet has hosted an Upward Bound program developed to improve the educational opportunities of first generation participants from low-income families in an area east of Chicago in northern Indiana referred to as “the Region”. First generation participants are defined as those students whose parents do not have a four-year college degree. The demographics of the target area indicate a relatively high concentration of ethnic minorities and urban populations. The Region has a large high school drop out rate, up to 50% in some areas, and a high unemployment rate among the minority groups. The number of people with a four-year college degree in the region is well below the state and national average. Thirteen high schools participate in the program, and Upward Bound is funded to serve 120 first generation low-income students. Of this number, 1/3 of the students are either low income or first generation, while 2/3 are both low income and first-generation students. At the present time 73 students are enrolled, and it is anticipated that the goal of 120 students will be reached at the beginning of the summer of 2002.

Primary goals of the program are: High school academic success, effective preparation for postsecondary education, and eventual graduation from college. The students will be enrolled in the program during their last three years in high school. The program consists of two components: a nine-month academic year program - during which the students will attend classes every Saturday morning at the Purdue Calumet campus to reinforce and supplement high school

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Sterkenburg, R. (2002, June), Introducing Underrepresented Minority High School Students To An Aeronautical Technology Program At Purdue University Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11022

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