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Outreach Activities for Middle School Students: Project for Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Outreach, Engagement, and Undergraduate Research

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1017.1 - 25.1017.17



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Paper Authors


Karinna M. Vernaza Gannon University

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Karinna Vernaza joined Gannon University in 2003, and she is currently an Associate Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Her B.S. is in marine systems engineering from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Her primary teaching responsibilities are in the solid mechanics and materials areas. She was awarded the 2012 ASEE NCS Outstanding Teacher Award. Vernaza consults for GE Transportation and does research in the aread of alternative fuels (biodiesel), engineering education (active learning techniques), and high strain deformation of materials. She is currently a Co-PI in an NSF S-STEM and ADVANCE-PAID grants. She is actively involved in outreach activities that introduce middle school students to engineering.

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Mahesh C. Aggarwal Gannon University

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Mahesh Aggarwal has been a faculty member at Gannon University since 1978. He graduated from Marquette University with a M.S. and University of Michigan with a Ph.D. in thermal science area. He has worked for numerous companies and currently working with GE Transportation in Erie, Penn. At GE, he is the Coordinator of GE/Gannon MS program. He has seven patents with GE Transportation over the last the last 10 years. He is an active member of the ASME, serving as Chair to numerous groups. He served as Vice President for Region V (District B now) and is actively involved in pre-college programs. He has been ME Evaluator for ABET over the last 12 years.

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Outreach Activities for Middle School Students Involving Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate StudentsAbstractThe ASME Student Chapter, the SWE Student Chapter, the Mechanical Engineering faculty andstaff have hosted a “Mechanical Engineering Day” at Gannon University, Erie, PA every springsince 2008. In average, 90 middle school students have participated every year. The ASME’sCenter for Leadership & Diversity awarded a Diversity Action Grant (DAG) to the ASMEstudent chapter to partially fund this event. This paper presents the “Mechanical EngineeringDay” event where the participating middle school students were introduced to differentengineering disciplines, and were guided and supervised by college students as they performedthree activities associated with different aspects of mechanical engineering. Every year, seniors,juniors and sophomores were in charge of proposing and selecting the projects/activities for theevent as well as preparing all the necessary guidelines and instructions. The proposals foractivities were part of a course grade and students had to showcase an area of MechanicalEngineering. The selected activities have included the design and construction of an egg-dropmodule, heat transfer experiments demonstrations, design and construction of a beam, design andconstruction of a watercraft, and design and construction of a zip line, amongst others. Throughactive participation in the event, the mechanical engineering undergraduate students at GannonUniversity have learned the importance of involvement in community outreach programs andteam work, have had the opportunity to improve their leadership and communication skills, andhave invoked the young minds of the middle school students to give a thought to how they canimpact and change their lives and the society in a positive way.The objectives of the “Mechanical Engineering Day” were to establish an effective program toincrease middle school student’s exposure to engineering, to inspire middle school students toconsider mechanical engineering/engineering as a future career, and to provide the undergraduatestudents opportunities for leadership and professional development. Middle school studentslearned about engineering and mechanical engineering careers, how engineers impact every daylife, and according to the survey, that engineering is fun. The event will be discussed from aproject-based perspective in a classroom setting. The paper will describe the involvement of theundergraduate students in the organization and execution of the event, the activities proposed andselected, and the advantages of students’ active participation. Finally, the lessons learned andchallenges experienced will be discussed.

Vernaza, K. M., & Aggarwal, M. C. (2012, June), Outreach Activities for Middle School Students: Project for Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21774

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