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Raising Interest in STEM Education: A Research-based Community College-University Partnership for Improving Minority Participation

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Developing Quality Experiences that Retain Diverse Engineering Talent

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Daniel Christe Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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Daniel Christe is pursuing concurrent Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering, respectively at Drexel University in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. His research interests center on predictive design of functional fabrics that "see, hear, sense, and adapt" to their environments. Daniel is currently a member of the Theoretical & Applied Mechanics Group, within Drexel University’s Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics Department. He has also held a research appointment at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Augmenting his scientific interests, Daniel serves as a STEM educator working to improve minority representation in STEM through high-impact research experiences. As an Innovation Advisor to Elsevier's Academic Engineering Solutions Library Advisory Board (AES-LAB), he partners with librarians to create democratized approaches to 21st century information literacy education on a global scale,

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Brian J Wisner Drexel University

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Brian is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Drexel University. Brian received his bachelor's degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics in 2011 from Widener University and his Master's in 2013 from Drexel University. He then spent a year working at Piasecki Aircraft Corporation during which time he taught classes at Widener University as an Adjunct Instructor. In 2014 he returned to Drexel University and joined the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Group under Dr. Antonios Kontsos. His research focuses on the identification of damage precursors in light metal alloys through the combination of nondestructive evaluation techniques including digital image correlation and acoustic emission monitoring coupled with in situ microstructure observation. Brian has been fortunate to be able to perform his work in collaboration with groups from Sandia National Labs and NASA Langley Research Center.

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Jay J. Bhatt Drexel University (Eng. & Eng. Tech.)

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Jay Bhatt is responsible for building library collections in engineering subject areas, outreach to faculty and students, and teaching information and research skills to faculty and students in Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and related subject areas. He provides individual and small group consultations to students, instructional sessions to specific classes, online research support in both face to face and distance learning programs, and conducts workshops for specialized research areas. Jay is actively involved with the Engineering Libraries Division of the American Society for Engineering Education

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Antonios Kontsos Drexel University

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Antonios Kontsos joined the Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics Department at Drexel University in September 2009 and he is currently the Director of the Theoretical and Applied Mechanics Group (TAMG). He received his undergraduate 5-year Diploma (2002) from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics at University of Patras (Greece), and his MS (2005) and PhD (2007) degrees from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice University (Houston, TX). He also held a 2-year Post-doc position at the Center for Mechanics of Solids, Structures and Materials in the Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics Department at the University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX). Kontsos is a member of the ASME, ASNT and Sigma Xi societies and he is serving as the Faculty Advisor of the local ASME student chapter at Drexel University

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Despite recent efforts, the fraction of underrepresented minorities employed in STEM fields mismatches the current demographics of the United States (U.S). In this context and over the past two years, an educational program between the Community College of ___ and ____ University with the overall objective to increase the interest of underrepresented minority students (UMS) in STEM has been implemented. The working hypothesis for the University component of this effort has been that learning about science and engineering is most effective if it is paired with the challenge of independent research in a collaborative “micro-environment”, such as the one in academic research laboratories. In this framework, six undergraduate UMS (three male, three female) were selected in the inaugural year, expanding to eight students (four male, four female) in the program’s second year. Each student selected a faculty advisor and research group aligned to their individual interests within the first week of the ten week program. From the outset, students were introduced to key library professionals and digital search tools which they employed to review literature relevant to their research foci, forming a basis for research proposals. By week four, students presented their research plans before a panel of faculty and student judges. To enrich individual research experiences, weekly seminars with guest lectures and discussions on modern drivers of STEM research were integrated in this summer research program. In order to complete the program, each student produced three final deliverables - an oral presentation, a technical poster and a final paper. In addition, students were exposed to an industrial R&D setting through a visit to a multinational corporation known for its innovation. A final survey and individualized assessments were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the program and progress of the individual students, respectively. Students demonstrated familiarity with basic research methods and universally reported increased interest in STEM education and careers, with several continuing to work in their labs beyond the program’s formal duration.

Christe, D., & Wisner, B. J., & Bhatt, J. J., & Kontsos, A. (2016, June), Raising Interest in STEM Education: A Research-based Community College-University Partnership for Improving Minority Participation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26031

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