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Preparing and Inspiring Middle and High School Students with a Pre-freshman Engineering Program.

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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

Curriculum Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1056.1 - 25.1056.12

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Paper Authors


Stephen W. Crown University of Texas, Pan American

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Stephen Crown is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas, Pan American. He has been actively involved in a number of grants supporting innovative and effective teaching methods for engineering education. Crown is Director of the outreach component of a large Department of Defense Center of Excellence grant that supports curriculum development for the Pre-freshman Engineering Program (PREP). Crown has been the Director of Edinburg PREP for five years.

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The education of a scientist or an engineer begins long before the student enters anundergraduate program to study their chosen STEM field. Childhood influences and experiencesimpact which students will academically prepare for and consider pursuing postsecondaryeducation in STEM fields. Many middle and high school students however grow up in a homewhere their parents do not have a college degree and where their economic situation maydiscourage pursuing higher education. Supplemental classroom and summer camp experiencesthat promote STEM play a critical role in many students’ lives in these important transitionyears. The methods and long term impact of one such program with a twenty one year trackrecord of attracting and preparing minority students is examined. The Pre-FreshmanEngineering Program (PREP) is an educational summer program aimed at Hispanic middle andhigh school students to increase educational preparedness and interest in STEM fields. The threeyear academic program that serves middle and high school students interested in STEM runsseven weeks each summer. Courses (Introduction to Engineering, Logic, Computer Science,Algebraic Structures, Introduction to Physics, Problem Solving, Introduction to Probability andStatistics, and Technical Writing) coupled with several engineering design projects/competitions(bottle rockets, solar cars, bridge building, catapults, hovercrafts, and robotics) help students seethe relevance of their summer STEM courses. The percentage of students who participate in theprogram, attend college, and graduate in STEM fields has been tracked throughout the programshistory. The success of the program in attracting above average numbers of young men andwomen to pursue engineering and other STEM fields is presented and related to the programmethods. Several key factors influencing the success of the program, which has grown to serveover 350 students per year locally, are identified presented as a model that can be duplicated inan effort to increase the number of graduates in STEM fields.

Crown, S. W. (2012, June), Preparing and Inspiring Middle and High School Students with a Pre-freshman Engineering Program. Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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