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Mississippi BEST Robotics: An Analysis of Impact and Outcomes on Student Performance and Perceptions towards Earning STEM Degrees

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Vemitra M White Mississippi State University

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Vemitra White, a native of Crawford, Mississippi, is currently the Director of K-12 Educational Outreach and Support Programs for the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University where she recently received her doctoral degree in Instructional Systems and Workforce Development. She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Mississippi State University with concentrations in Finance, Insurance, and Management. Vemitra also received her Masters of Science degree in Instructional Technology from Mississippi State University. Vemitra has been involved with recruiting under-represented minorities (URMs) students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) areas at Mississippi State University since the summer of 2010.
Vemitra serves as a city council member in her hometown. She is the youngest member on the board that is responsible for making policies and procedures, as well as ordinances for the town. Her active participation on the city council exhibits her commitment to helping others and building her town both financially and economically. Vemitra is an active member of Columbus Lowndes County Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the recent award recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Woman Award from the President's Commission on the Status of Women, a member of Kappa Delta Pi, a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Women's Basketball Collegiate Association, and Mississippi Educators Association. Her active participation in these organizations reveals her passion in helping others succeed. Vemitra is also a former collegiate basketball player where she played 2 years of women’s basketball at Bevill State Community College in Fayette AL and her last 2 years at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton GA. She was a 4 year Academic All American.

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Jamel Hill Alexander Mississippi State University

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Jamel Alexander received his Ph.D from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Mississippi State University (May 2017). Alexander received his B.S. in Physics from Xavier University of Louisiana, a M.S. in Applied Physics from the University of New Orleans, and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Mississippi State University. Alexander received the 2011 MS and 2013 PhD National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences (GEM) Fellowships along with the 2015 NSF Gk-12 Inspire Fellowship from Mississippi State University and was the recipient of the 2016 National Society of Black Engineer’s Mike Shinn Member of the Year Award.

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Debra Prince Mississippi State University

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Debra Lindsey Prince earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Mississippi State University in 2000 and currently serves as an associate professor in the Department of Leadership and Foundations. Her research interests are focused on poverty and the well-being of children and program evaluation.

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Robotics is an innovative way of intertwining the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Through robotics, students become competent and confident in abstract thinking, problem solving, teamwork, goal-setting, and leadership. Established in 1998, BEST Robotics Inc., a non-profit volunteer-based organization and network with approximately 45 hubs across the United States provides students, regardless of socioeconomic status from public, private and home school groups and organizations the opportunity to explore the engineering design process via the design, development and testing of robots that can perform specific tasks on game fields. As a regional hub in BEST, Mississippi BEST (MSBEST) Robotics used surveys to evaluate the impact and outcomes of BEST Robotics on student performance and perceptions towards earning STEM degrees post involvement in a regional BEST Robotics Competition. MSBEST served approximately 250 middle and high school students dispersed into 24 teams. As a result of participation in MSBEST, students enhanced their self-efficacies, became more familiar and comfortable with STEM concepts through the engineering design process, worked in teams to compete in exhilarating competitions which served as great performance assessments, gained transferrable skills in programming, marketing, technical writing, design-to-implementation and failure analysis, and developed increased interest to pursue degrees in STEM.

White, V. M., & Alexander, J. H., & Prince, D. (2017, June), Mississippi BEST Robotics: An Analysis of Impact and Outcomes on Student Performance and Perceptions towards Earning STEM Degrees Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28674

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015