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Progress on the Engineering Ambassador Network: A Professional Development Organization with an Outreach Mission

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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

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1014.1 - 24.1014.13



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Paper Authors


Michael Alley Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Michael Alley is an associate professor of engineering communication at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Craft of Scientific Presentations, 2nd edition, and was a cofounder of the Engineering Ambassador Network.

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Christine Haas Engineering Ambassadors Network


Karen A. Thole Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Dr. Karen A. Thole holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and a Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. After receiving her PhD, she spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. Her academic career began in 1994 when she became an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1999, she accepted a position in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Virginia Tech where she was promoted to Professor in 2003 and was recognized as the William S. Cross Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 2005. In 2006, she was appointed and continues to hold the position of Head of the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Thole has published over 180 peer-reviewed archival journal and conference papers and advised over 50 theses and dissertations. She founded the Experimental and Computational Convection Laboratory (ExCCL) which is a Pratt and Whitney Center of Excellence for heat transfer. She is a Fellow of ASME and serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the International Gas Turbine Institute, as the Chair of the ASME - ME Department Head Executive Committee, as a member of the Vision 2030 Committee, and as the Chair of ASME’s Committee on Honors. She has been recognized by the U.S. White House Champion of Change for recruitment efforts in STEM and by Penn State’s Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award.

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Melissa Marshall Pennsylvania State University, University Park


Joanna K. Garner Old Dominion University

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Dr. Garner is a Research Associate Professor in The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University, VA.

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Progress on Engineering Ambassador Network: A Professional Development Group with an Outreach Mission To solve today’s engineering challenges, we need a wide range of solutions, which can berealized only by having enough engineers with diverse and strong technical backgrounds.Workforce studies have shown that the number of students being educated in STEM (science,technology, engineering, and math) cannot meet projected demands [1]. Also, the currentenrollments in engineering are not diverse, especially among women, blacks, and Hispanics [2].On another issue, a recent survey of engineers in industry indicates a compelling need forengineers to have strong communication skills [3]. To address these challenges, XXXX University created the Engineering Ambassadors: aprofessional development program for undergraduate engineering students with an outreachmission to middle and high schools. The development mission is to enrich the communicationand leadership skills of engineering undergraduates through academic programs. The outreachmission of the Engineering Ambassadors is to attract a diverse population of middle and highschool students into engineering. In short, the Engineering Ambassador Program places the rightmessenger (engineering students with advanced presentation skills) with the right message(messages about engineering from Changing the Conversation [4]) in front of middle and highschool students. In the past four years, these Engineering Ambassador presentations havereceived much praise, both from the 10,000 middle and high school students visited and fromthose students’ teachers. Correspondingly, the program at XXXXX University has grown in thepast four years from 12 female ambassadors to 66 ambassadors, of whom more than two-thirdsare from groups under-represented in engineering. Because of industry interest, the program hasspread to a Network of four schools in the northeast: WWWW, XXXX, YYYY, and ZZZZ. InAugust 2012, with an NSF workshop grant [5], the Network trained pilot programs of 2-4engineering ambassadors at 17 other geographically diverse institutions with the goal of furtherexpanding the Network. This paper describes progress on the expansion of the Network, which has two key goals:(1) developing an extended community to provide valuable communication and leadership skillsto Ambassadors and (2) creating an environment where Ambassadors have more leverage andresources to increase the diversity of students entering engineering. The progress from theexpansion includes results from two on-site workshops at pilot schools and a teacher trainingworkshop in Atlanta—these workshops were made possible by support from ASME [6]. Inaddition, this coming year, the expansion is set to include five on-site workshops at additionalpilot schools. These five workshops are supported by a grant from the National ScienceFoundation [7]. The main goal of these on-site workshops at the pilot institutions is to have thoseprograms reach a critical mass of Ambassadors and to provide the faculty on those campuseswith the materials and training needed to sustain those programs. In this paper, we discuss ourcriteria for deciding which schools to disseminate, the strategy for holding those workshops, theteaching materials that we have created, the challenges that still exist in this expansion, and thelessons we have learned so far. 1  References1. Carnevale, A.P. and S.J. Rose (2011). The Undereducated American. Available at American Society of Engineering Education (2009). Available at publications/publications/college-profiles/2009-profile-engineering-statistics.pdf. Accessed October 1, 2011.3. ASME, “Vision 2030―Creating the Future of Mechanical Engineering Education,” American Society of Mechanical Engineers (New York: ASME, 2010).4. National Academy of Engineering, Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering (Washington, D.C.: NAE Press, 2008).5. _____________, _____________, ___________, and _________, “Communicating What Mechanical Engineers Do: A Strategy for Recruiting Women,” National Science Foundation Grant 0835875 (Department of Mechanical Engineering, _____________________, 2009-2010).6. Innovation Committee, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and ASME Foundation, “Engineering Ambassador Network” (New York: ASME, 2013).7. _____________, _____________, ___________, and _________, “Type 2: Creating a National Network of Engineering Ambassadors: A Professional Development Program with an Outreach Mission,” National Science Foundation Grant, TUES Program, 1323230 (College of Engineering, _____________________, 2013-2016). 2  

Alley, M., & Haas, C., & Thole, K. A., & Marshall, M., & Garner, J. K. (2014, June), Progress on the Engineering Ambassador Network: A Professional Development Organization with an Outreach Mission Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22947

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