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K-12 Aerospace Academy: An Out-of-School Authentic and Experiential STEM Learning Experience for College and Career Pathways to Aerospace/Aviation

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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

Aerospace Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Kuldeep S Rawat Elizabeth City State University

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KULDEEP S. RAWAT is currently the Chair of Department of Technology and Director of Aviation Science program at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). He has earned an M.S. in Computer Science, 2001, an M.S. in Computer Engineering, 2003; and, a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering, 2005, from the Center for Advanced Computer Studies (CACS) at University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He serves as the Site Director for NASA MUREP Aerospace Academy program at ECSU. His areas of interests include embedded systems design, cloud instrumentation, remote computing applications, UAS applications research, mobile robotics, and innovative uses of educational technologies. Dr. Rawat may be reached at

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Ellis Eugene Lawrence Elizabeth City State University

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Dr. Ellis E. Lawrence is a Professor in the Department Of Technology at ECSU. He holds an Ed.D. in Vocational and Technical Education with a cognate in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (popularly known as Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia. He worked as Graduate Research Assistant in the Vocational Technical Education Department at Virginia Tech. Dr. Lawrence has taught automotive technology, computer aided design, electronics and computer networking. He has spent several summers at NASA Langley Research Center as an American Society of Engineering Education fellow. As a fellow, his research included computer aided design, programmable logic controller, stereolithography, electronics and printed circuit board design. During his tenure at ECSU, Dr. Lawrence’s research and summer institutes have been funded by numerous agencies including NASA Langley Research Center, NASA Kennedy Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Center, Federal Highway Administration, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. He is currently conducting unmanned aerial vehicle research.

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Robin Renee Mangham Elizabeth City State University

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ROBIN R. MANGHAM is currently a lecturer in the Aviation Science Program at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). She earned a Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 2012. Areas of interest include education technology, human factors in aviation, and unmanned aircraft applications research. Ms. Mangham may be reached at

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Orestes Devino Gooden Elizabeth City State University

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CDR. Orestes D. Gooden, retired US Navy Officer (Aviator) is an Assistant Professor at Elizabeth City State University. He has earned a B.S. in Geology from Virginia State University and M.A.S. in Aviation Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His areas of interests include: Human Factors in Aviation, Accident Investigation & Safety, Corporate Aviation Operations, and Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). His passion for aviation education is noted as he is continuingly serving, educating and mentoring the next generation of aviators and aerospace industry students. He is certified by the FAA and qualified in both fixed wing, rotary wing and UAS aircraft.

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The paper will present detailed implementation and evaluation of an Aerospace Academy program geared towards exposing K-12 students, with emphasis toward underrepresented populations, to the high-demand aerospace and aviation fields. The program activities are designed to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and improve college readiness and career exposure through aerospace/aviation-themed STEM activities. Students learned about potential college and career opportunities that exist in these fields and why a strong background in advanced science and mathematics is crucial to achieve these careers. Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) received funding through NASA and private foundations to implement a comprehensive K-12 Aerospace Academy outreach program with emphasis toward minorities from rural counties surrounding ECSU.

These counties have long suffered the effects of poverty and have lacked the opportunities for most students to encounter the 21st century workplace that is readily accessible in more urban areas of the state. However, with recent growth in the aviation and aerospace industry in the region, there now exists the potential to link K-12 education to these industries. Student activities were delivered through Friday Academy, Saturday Academy and Summer Academies with participation from 235 middle and high school students. The participants comprised of 43.83% Male and 56.17% Female across 6th to 12th grade levels. The three key components of K-12 Aerospace Academy program at ECSU are: (i) Curriculum Enhancement Activities (CEA) – Hands-on, inquiry-based K-12 STEM curricula, (ii) Aerospace Educational Laboratory (AEL) – both stationary and mobile, and (iii) Family Connection – parental involvement and informal education. The goals of the K-12 Aerospace Academy program are; (i) Improving STEM literacy, (ii) Educate students utilizing a STEM curriculum that meets national standards , (iii) Inspiring student population to pursue college and careers in STEM-related disciplines and/or careers.

The project adopted grade appropriate NASA STEM curriculum at its core and integrates 3D printing technology, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) design, and sensor-based measurement systems to enhance authentic and experiential learning experiences. Integration of these technologies and activities adds an additional dimension to the value of scientific inquiry and shows how to apply scientific and mathematical knowledge and procedures, to solve real-world engineering problems and improve the world we live in. The curriculum supports the Next Generation Science Standards and contained a strong emphasis on math and science literacy for 21st century learners. Students participating in the program completed a total of thirty-six (36) to forty (40) hours of hands-on experience.

Both descriptive and inferential statistical methods were used to analyze the evaluation data. Evaluation data was gathered through a formalized Student Feedback Survey. Topics discussed in the paper will include implementation of the K-12 Aerospace Academy program at ECSU, program components and delivery model, participant demographics, student activities, and project evaluation.

Rawat, K. S., & Lawrence, E. E., & Mangham, R. R., & Gooden, O. D. (2018, June), K-12 Aerospace Academy: An Out-of-School Authentic and Experiential STEM Learning Experience for College and Career Pathways to Aerospace/Aviation Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30742

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