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Investment in Informal Outreach Programs: A Systematized Literature Review of Informal Pre-College STEM Programs in African-American Communities

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jessica Rush Leeker Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Jessica Rush Leeker earned her undergraduate degree from Penn State with a focus in Supply Chain and Information Systems and a minor in international business. She attended Purdue University, receiving an MBA with specialization in Sustainability and Operations.

Before business school, Jessica spent a summer in Haiti, delivering shoes to those in need and creating a more efficient supply chain for urban water projects. Jessica has worked for many successful consumer product companies including Unilever, and Georgia Pacific.

Currently, Jessica is completing her Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Purdue University to focus on practical methods of corporate outreach in STEM for minority communities. In her free time, writes children’s books, teaches yoga to children, and enjoys her family.

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Mary K. Pilotte Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Mary Pilotte is Associate Professor of Engineering Practice in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. She is an instructor for Multidisciplinary engineering coursework, and is Director of the undergraduate Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies and Multidisciplinary Engineering program. She also is an instructor in executive and global MBA programs. With over 20 years of industrial work experience, and supportive of her academic roles, Mary actively leads academic outreach to industrial firms to develop in-classroom, project-based, active learning through identification of “real life”, in-context problem scenarios. Pilotte’s research interests involve understanding generation-based engineering culture, identity, and communication in the context of professional engineering practice. Expanded interests include understanding student benefits associated with in-context active learning, and the intersection of engineering education and neurodiversity. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision from Purdue University, an MBA from the Goizueta School of Business, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

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This paper is a systematized literature review examining pre-college informal STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in African American communities and evaluates which outreach method might be best for corporations. To this end, the study focuses on responding to two research questions: 1) Which informal STEM education programs are used in African American communities? 2) Out of these outreach programs, which might be beneficial for corporations to focus on to fully maximize time, money, and other resources? This study’s search results are directed by education, economic, humanities, and social science databases and restricted to peer-reviewed articles. This systematized review is based on 23 peer-reviewed articles published between 1986 and 2015. From the 23 peer-reviewed articles, two topical categories emerged: pre-college minority STEM outreach efforts and pre-college and industry partnerships. These categories capture universal themes of the articles including purpose, result, approach, and nature of work in which various subjects and concepts materialized. By exploring these themes, identification of pre-college informal STEM outreach programs and common outreach methods exercised by industry were identified, and their value to the student and industry stakeholders are examined.

Leeker, J. R., & Pilotte, M. K. (2018, June), Investment in Informal Outreach Programs: A Systematized Literature Review of Informal Pre-College STEM Programs in African-American Communities Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30731

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