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Large Research Center Education and Outreach: Lessons from Five Years of Distributed Collaborative Design, Development, and Implementation

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Promoting Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.843.1 - 24.843.18



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Paper Authors

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Sean P. Brophy Purdue University, West Lafayette


Thalia Anagnos San Jose State University

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Dr. Thalia Anagnos is a professor in the General Engineering Department at San Jose State University, where she has taught since 1984. She also serves as co-Leader of Education, Outreach, and Training for the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, a consortium of 14 large-scale earthquake engineering experimental facilities.

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Large Research Center Education and Outreach: Lessons from 5 years of Distributed Collaborative Design, Development and ImplementationEducation and outreach programs are important to fulfilling the broader impacts aims of large scaleresearch centers. These programs have the potential of increasing the next generation of researchers inthe field, linking practitioners to innovative research, increasing interest in pursuing careers in science,technology, engineering and mathematics, and informing stakeholders of research results and their impacton society. The George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) is willcomplete its tenth yea[SPB1]r of operation in September 2014[SPB2]. The Center under this investigationconsists of ahis network of 14 large-scale experimental laboratories collaborates and shares resources toefficiently generate research needed to inform the practice and reduce losses from future earthquakes.Since the development of the center in 2003 the education, and outreach (EO) program has grown from afederation of local outreach activities to an integrated network of “specialists” working together to obtainsignificant impact towards defined education goals.A challenge of running the EO operation is integrating it into the general makeup of the researchenterprise rather than an ancillary project to fulfill a contractual agreement. Some centers loose theopportunity to maximize their potential for enriching their research field by limiting their program designto only their research agenda. Their education programs may center on the research potential of theirgraduate students and post doctoral scholars. Their future careers will also require their abilities to mentorand teach. Similarly, undergraduate students are eager to explore new opportunities to inform theirdecisions about future workplace or graduate school. These observations represents some of the issuesand opportunities a center could consider in the design of their education program. Therefore, theleadership of the NEES EOT Education and Outreach program has learned from the experience andwisdom of various Engineering Research Centers to establish a focused program to achieve a highlytalented next-generation research workforce through formal education programs and developed a range ofinformal learning experiences for outreach. The collaboration of EO specialists, with graduate students,undergraduates and teachers to codevelop and implement learning experiences has proven to be a highlyimpactful approach for achieving educational goals of these participants as well as the learners theyengage in various learning experiences. This [SPB3]paper describes the critical principles governing thedesign of an effective education program by a multi-site, geographically-distributed research center. Forexample, a highly enriched Research Experiences for Undergraduates with graduate student mentors,regular meetings of the team of EO specialists for co-design of programs, research seminars forpractitioners, and highly visible outreach efforts to the community. The paper includes a review of priorresearch on effective education programs associated with research grants, findings of lessons learned byNEES EOT leadership and a summary of program results. These lessons will provide a framework forothers interested in designing education and outreach programs at future large-scale research centers.

Brophy, S. P., & Anagnos, T. (2014, June), Large Research Center Education and Outreach: Lessons from Five Years of Distributed Collaborative Design, Development, and Implementation Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20734

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