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Involving Middle School Students In Customer Focused Undergraduate Manufacturing Education

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Engineering Education; An International Perspective

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.791.1 - 8.791.8



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Paper Authors

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Lori Cirucci

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Joseph Santoro

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John Coulter

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Herman Nied

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David Angstadt

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Charles Smith

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

Session 2560

Involving Middle School Students in Customer Focused Undergraduate Manufacturing Education

John P. Coulter, Herman F. Nied, Charles R. Smith, David C. Angstadt Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA

Lori Cirucci, Joseph Santoro Broughal Middle School, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA


K-12 engineering outreach programs are gaining in popularity as vehicles for getting students interested in engineering at an early age. This paper presents such a program that is integrated with the undergraduate mechanical engineering curriculum at Lehigh University. Annually, approximately eighty mechanical engineering juniors complete a three-credit course entitled ME 240-Manufacturing. This course exposes them to a wide array of manufacturing processes from a scientific, business and social standpoint. The course is innovative in that manufacturing science knowledge is acquired while students simultaneously develop skills in the areas of teamwork, project management, business analysis, and customer focused product realization. An additional innovation is the creative inclusion of approximately 120 local middle school students. These students benefit by developing an awareness of engineering as a potential future career at a critical age. The cooperative university/middle school learning environment has been found to be one that the students enjoy and the ME 240 experience has become a favorite of the Lehigh and middle school students alike.


K-12 engineering outreach programs are increasing in popularity and number as universities and secondary schools act to address the shortfall of U.S. students in science and math 1 . The rationale for introducing engineering at an early age is described thoroughly in the references and will not be covered presently. Support and impetus for these programs come from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Teachers (RET) and Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) programs, among others.

Many of the K-12 programs involve hands-on work in analyzing an engineering problem and are designed to actively engage the student in the hope of developing an interest in engineering as well as demystifying what is an ominous subject for many students. Scores of universities have begun programs with approaches as diverse as the populations they serve, starting as early as kindergarten. Some programs focus on helping the K-12 teachers improve their teaching of engineering concepts 2 while others follow a more interactive approach with university faculty and students 3 and still others have designed curricula to be introduced by a visiting engineering

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Cirucci, L., & Santoro, J., & Coulter, J., & Nied, H., & Angstadt, D., & Smith, C. (2003, June), Involving Middle School Students In Customer Focused Undergraduate Manufacturing Education Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12011

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