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Involving High School Students In A University Level Mechanical Engineering Design Competition

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Design Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.839.1 - 10.839.12



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Paper Authors

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Michael Pastirik

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Michael Robertson

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William Singhose

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Joshua Vaughan

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Donna Llewellyn

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Marion Usselman

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

Involving High Schools Students in a University-Level Mechanical Engineering Design Competition

Michael Robertson1, Joshua Vaughan1, William Singhose1, Michael Pastirik2, Marion Usselman3, Donna Llewellyn4 1 George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering 2 Cedar Grove High School, DeKalb County School System 3 Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing 4 Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning Georgia Institute of Technology


This paper documents the involvement of students from a 99% African American metro-Atlanta area high school in a sophomore-level mechatronics course at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The course contains elements of computer science, electro-mechanical sensors and actuators, and mechanical design. The wide range of skills needed to build a competitive machine in the end-of-course competition attracts interest from a wide range of students. By involving high school students in this competition, and exposing them to the university setting, we hope to attract more minority students into science or engineering, and specifically into mechanical engineering.

1. Introduction Metro-Atlanta, like many regions of the country, is characterized by increasingly segregated schools and a large academic achievement gap between African American and Hispanic students on the one hand, and their white and Asian peers on the other. The schools in the north part of the region, considered to be some of the best in Georgia, enroll primarily non-Hispanic white and Asian students and boast SAT scores well above the state and national averages. In stark contrast, the overwhelmingly African American schools in the southern portion of the region post cumulative SAT scores over one hundred points below the already low Georgia state average. Other standard measures of academic achievement, such as Advanced Placement test scores, college matriculation rates, and need for college remediation, show the same bimodal distribution.

Clearly the reasons for these disparities are many and multifaceted. In an attempt to be part of the solution, the Georgia Institute of Technology has established partnerships with several of the local school systems, and actively explores ways to utilize the resources and talents available on the campus to implement novel interventions at the school-house level. These interventions have the potential to attract minority students into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields by exposing the high school students to the university, and by convincing them that they have the ability to compete in an arena that has, up to that point, been foreign to them.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Pastirik, M., & Robertson, M., & Singhose, W., & Vaughan, J., & Llewellyn, D., & Usselman, M. (2005, June), Involving High School Students In A University Level Mechanical Engineering Design Competition Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14464

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