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Safety Factors and Accidents in P-12 Pre-Engineering and Engineering Design Courses: Results from a National Study (Fundamental)

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division (PCEE) Technical Session 3: Let's Get Thinking on Design

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division (PCEE)

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Paper Authors


Tyler S. Love University of Maryland Eastern Shore Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Love is a Professor of Technology and Engineering Education, and Director of Graduate Studies in Career and Technology Education for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. He earned his master's and Ph.D. in Integrative STEM Education from Virginia Tech. His bachelors degree is in Technology Education from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. He previously taught technology and engineering (T&E) courses in Maryland’s Public School System. He is nationally recognized for his work related to the safer design of makerspaces and collaborative STEM labs. Dr. Love is an Authorized OSHA Trainer for General Industry. He has also served on committees at state and national levels that developed P-12 engineering education standards. Dr. Love is the recipient of ASEE's Fall 2022 Middle Atlantic Conference Best Paper Award. Prior to his employment at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore he was a tenure track faculty member in elementary/middle grades STEM education at Penn State University's Capital Campus.

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Kenneth Russell Roy Glastonbury Public Schools (Connecticut)

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Dr. Roy is Director of Environmental Health and Safety for Glastonbury Public Schools. He also serves as NSTA’s and NSELA’s Chief Safety Compliance Adviser. He is general manager and safety consultant for National Safety Consultants, LLC. Dr. Roy is a nationally/internationally recognized safety specialist, author of more than 13 laboratory safety books and over 800 safety articles in professional publications. He has presented safety programs for professional associations worldwide and is an authorized/certified OSHA General Industry outreach trainer. Dr. Roy co-authored the national technology education and career and technical education (CTE) safety research study published in 2022. He also serves as an expert witness for school STEM lab accident litigation across the U.S. He can be contacted at

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Developing and constructing solutions for engineering design challenges can pose inherent legal and ethical safety responsibilities that school systems and educators cannot ignore. While safety concepts are emphasized throughout P-12 engineering education standards [1,2], studies have documented a continued lack of safety in regard to awareness, training, supervision, practices, facility characteristics, inspections, and engineering controls [3,4]. For example, national studies in 2002 and 2022 found that only 81% and 83% of educators respectively had the appropriate eye protection for all students engaged in science and engineering activities in their courses [4]. Furthermore, a national study published in 2022 by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) in collaboration with the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA), discovered a number of alarming safety deficiencies among P-12 programs and educators providing engineering instruction in the United States (U.S.) [3]. Further analyses found that teachers who had completed comprehensive safety training experiences were 49% less likely to have had an accident occur in their courses [5]. However, of greater concern are the broader impacts of safety deficiencies modeled for students in P-12 since research suggests that students often implement these safety habits in post-secondary programs and the workplace.

Utilizing data from a national safety research project involving 718 P-12 educators from 42 states in the U.S. [3], this study examined results from a subsample of 381 educators who specifically reported teaching pre-engineering or engineering design (PE/ED) focused courses. The goals of this study were to examine how PE/ED courses differed in terms of accident occurrences in comparison to other P-12 engineering courses (manufacturing, etc.), and what safety issues were significantly associated with accident occurrences in PE/ED courses. Analyses revealed that educators teaching P-12 PE/ED courses reported a significantly lower rate of major accident occurrences during a five year span in comparison to educators teaching other types of engineering courses. Numerous safety issues were found to be significantly associated with accident occurrences in P-12 PE/ED courses. Additionally, PE/ED courses were found to have significantly more accidents involving hot glue guns, but significantly fewer accidents involving equipment and machinery.

This study contributes to the limited research on safety in P-12 engineering education by identifying safety issues that are linked to accident occurrences. This research not only has implications for improving the health and safety of P-12 engineering education students and educators, it can also help reduce exposure to potential safety hazards and resulting risks. In addition, it can save schools money resulting from potential legal safety issues involving students and/or teacher accidents. Furthermore, this research can help post-secondary engineering education programs and industry partners focus their safety efforts on areas where the data indicates incoming students and young workers will need the most support. Post-secondary engineering education programs, P-12 engineering education programs, and industry partners should collaborate to address the critical safety gaps identified in this study. Addressing these gaps can help develop greater safety awareness and safer habits among prospective engineers and our future workforce.

Love, T. S., & Roy, K. R. (2023, June), Safety Factors and Accidents in P-12 Pre-Engineering and Engineering Design Courses: Results from a National Study (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44178

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