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Regional Multi-organizational Approach to K-12 STEM Promotion

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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

The Role of Engineering in Integrated STEM--uh STEAM--uh Education!

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1110.1 - 25.1110.22



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Paper Authors


John Louis Vadnal Liberty University

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John Vadnal earned a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Florida, and a M.S. in mechanics and hydraulics, a M.S. in applied mathematics, and a Ph.D. in mechanics and hydraulics from the University of Iowa. As a graduate student, he studied engineering during one summer at the Von Karman Institute of Fluid Dynamics in Brussels, Belgium, and for a year at Kyoto University, Japan. He worked 10 years as an engineer for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Duke Power Company, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He has taught engineering full-time for six years, with two years at the University of Evansville, Ind., and four years at Liberty University, Va. (where he is currently employed). He has been actively involved in promoting and organizing STEM outreach activities, particularly TEAMS and Vex Robotics competitions for high school students. He is an Adjunct Math Instructor at Central Virginia Community College and former board member of the Region 2000 Technology Council. Vadnal has an additional 11 years of academic and administrative experience as Chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics at Tennessee Temple University, Academic Dean and Graduate Program Director at Trinity Baptist College, and Associate Dean of the General Education component of the Distance Learning Program at Liberty University. He has taught 47 different college courses.

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Barbara Eileen Bragg Ranken Technical College

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Barbara Bragg is currently the STEM Pathways Development Coordinator at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Mo. She has developed and led numerous STEM educational programs for more than seven years, serving secondary students and educators in both Lynchburg, Va., and now St. Louis, Mo. Those programs include summer academies for middle school and high school students, FIRST Lego League tournaments, technology fairs, and VEX Robotics. Prior to joining Ranken, she held the position of Career Pathways Coordinator at Central Virginia Community College, where she worked with regional educators, local colleges, and business and industry to promote technical careers to youth in Central Virginia. She holds a bachelor's of arts in business administration with a management emphasis from Mary Baldwin College.

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Jonathan M. Whitt C.Ec.D. Virginia's Region 2000 Technology Council

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Jonathan Whitt is the Executive Director of the Region 2000 Technology Council, a position he has held since 2003. Whitt works closely with Technology Council members, representatives from the region's schools, colleges and universities, and representatives of local, state, and federal government to assist and champion initiatives that bring value to the council's members and the citizens of Region 2000. He has been a key player in the development of several regional technology-based economic development projects, including the creation of the Region 2000 Partnership, the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research, and the Future Focus Educational Foundation. Prior to his position with the Region 2000 Technology Council, Whitt was Co-founder and CEO of NetWave Internet, a pioneer in the deployment of wireless broadband networks. NetWave’s service area encompassed the Lynchburg and Roanoke, Va., markets. Whitt is a long-time advocate for broadband deployment and STEM education initiatives, having served on numerous committees and workgroups related to these issues. Whitt has also been an active entrepreneur and technologist, with four business start-ups to his credit, two of which were technology companies. He has also worked for the following Region 2000 companies: Babcock & Wilcox, First Brands, Parker Powertrain, and Waytec Electronics. Whitt serves on numerous boards of directors and regional committees and holds professional certification as a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD). Whitt lives in Forest, Va., with his wife Jennifer and two children.

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Regional Multi-Organizational Approach to K-12 STEM PromotionAbstractThis paper demonstrates how local engineering firms (with international reach), a regionaltechnology council, the Workforce Development division of a community college and theEngineering Department (established in 2007) of a local university have collectively collaboratedto promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the K-12 level in a2000-square mile region. STEM outreach efforts have concentrated not only to principals andteachers at traditional city/county, private and Christian elementary, middle school and highschools, but also to numerous home school groups, a center for at-risk youth, and a house forunwed mothers (which are predominantly high-school aged). These collaborations have resultedin the sharing of resources (material and financial), talent (particularly for judges, mentors andstudent volunteers) and facilities.Since 2003, both the individual and combined efforts of these parties acquired and began thefollowing: a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant; Junior FIRST LEGO League; FIRSTLEGO League; a STEM-oriented website and magazine for youth (distributed to 8,000 middleand high school students in the region); technology fairs; summer apprentice programs; summercareer academies; engineering and science camps; Future Focus EXPOs; VEX Roboticcompetitions; and Junior Engineering Technical Society (JETS) Tests of Engineering Aptitude,Mathematics and Science (TEAMS) competitions.Significant impacts of these collaborations have been measured at several levels. Participationamong students and schools have doubled and tripled at some of these events in the past severalyears, and have allowed some teams to advance to national competitions or attain the topdivisional ranking in the nation. One of the students who competed on a winning robotics teamwas awarded a 25% tuition scholarship and is currently a junior majoring in ElectricalEngineering in the Engineering Department of the local university. A particular collaborationwas recognized and awarded at the September 2011 International Economic DevelopmentCouncil Excellence in Economic Development Awards (category: Partnerships with EducationalInstitutions). These efforts are dedicated to helping educate local students, and promotingregional career opportunities in the STEM fields (which are expected to experience a 21%growth in the region by 2016).

Vadnal, J. L., & Bragg, B. E., & Whitt, J. M. (2012, June), Regional Multi-organizational Approach to K-12 STEM Promotion Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21867

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