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Middle School Students Participate In Three Week Gear Up Summer Engineering Program At Texas A&M University Commerce

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Outreach: Future Women in Engineering II

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.915.1 - 9.915.8



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Paper Authors

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Sherion Jackson

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Andrew Jackson

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Bob Wilkins

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

Session 3592

Middle School Students Participate in Three-Week GEAR-UP Summer Engineering Program at Texas A&M University-Commerce

Andrew E. Jackson, Ph.D., Bob J. Wilkins, M.S., Sherion H. Jackson, Ed.D. Texas A&M University-Commerce


During June 2003, the Industrial Engineering Department at Texas A&M University- Commerce (TAMUC) hosted 28 middle school students for a three-week GEAR-UP engineering experience. The students were entering grades 7, 8, and 9 for the 2003-2004 academic year, in their respective schools. Students attending the GEAR-UP program were from area middle schools including Sulphur Springs, Greenville, and Commerce, Texas, an area of roughly 250 square miles. Transportation, snacks, and the mid-day lunch were provided to the students who attended class for three consecutive weeks (Monday through Thursday) between 9:00 AM and 12:00 noon. Students participated in an engineering project to design, build, test, market, and compete in a paper airplane competition. The program resulted in 36 classroom contact hours between the faculty and the students in the program.

Three full-time engineering, technology, and educational administration faculty members from TAMUC were involved in daily events that included project management, cost engineering, design engineering, test engineering, and marketing. A competition was held to determine the winning team across two categories – 1) distance and 2) flight endurance. Teams were required to develop their own designs on AutoCAD using construction materials provided only by the instructors, with corresponding costs for each item used in creating the paper airplanes. The paper airplane construction materials were priced individually and were charged to the teams as they were consumed. Students were integrated into functional positions on each team, independent of their individual gender and age level. Of the 17 students who completed the full program and attended the awards ceremony, ten of the students (or approximately 60%) were female. This paper will detail the processes used to create the GEAR-UP experience for the middle school students, including team development, design criteria, processes used, and results of the competition.


GEAR-UP is an acronym for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program. It is one of many exciting programs to emerge from the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, which was endorsed by former President Bill Clinton on October 7, 1998.”1 During the first three weeks of June 2003, the Industrial Engineering and Technology Department at Texas A&M University-Commerce hosted students from area middle schools who participated in the first-ever engineering GEAR-UP program in East Texas. The objective of the engineering program was to provide these students with an appreciation of

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Jackson, S., & Jackson, A., & Wilkins, B. (2004, June), Middle School Students Participate In Three Week Gear Up Summer Engineering Program At Texas A&M University Commerce Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13273

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