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Student Driven Engineering Design Projects

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Christine Ann Newman Johns Hopkins University

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Assistant Dean, Center for Educational Outreach, Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
Phone: (410) 516-4473; Fax: (410) 516-0264; email:

Professional Preparation:
Virginia Polytechnic and State University B.S. Mechanical Engineering 1989
Marshall University MBA 1995

2010-Present Assistant Dean, Center for Educational Outreach, Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
2007-2009 Director, Business Transformation Office, Single Family Mortgage Division, Fannie Mae, Washington DC
2005-2007 Program Pricing Director, Restatement Division, Fannie Mae, Washington, DC
2000-2005 Senior Program Manager, eBusiness Division, Fannie Mae, Washington, DC
1999-2000 Senior Product Manager, Essential Technologies, Inc., Rockville, MD
1998-1999 Product Manager, Essential Technologies, Inc., Rockville, MD
1994-1998 Manager, Air Programs, Apex Environmental Inc., Rockville, MD
1993-1994 Senior Environmental Engineer, Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics, Inc., Charleston, WV
1989-1992 Advanced Systems Engineer, Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics, Inc., Charleston, WV

Synergistic Activities:
Project Leadership Team for STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES), an NSF Funded Math Science Partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools Grant No. DUE-1237992, 2012 – present.
Co-Lead, STEM workgroup, Consortium for Urban Education, Baltimore, MD 2014-2015
Maryland State Department of Education STEM Equity workgroup 2014-2015
Professional Engineer, Commonwealth of Virginia, License No. 021864, 1996-2010
Board of Directors, Maryland Science Olympiad, 2010-present
Champions Board, Mid Atlantic Girls Collaborative Network

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Carolyn Parker Johns Hopkins University

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Carolyn Parker is a STEM education faculty member and researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Her work appears in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Written Communication, and School Science and Mathematics and the edited volume: Research on Women in Education Series: Girls and Women in STEM Fields: A Never Ending Story.

Dr. Parker is a co-principal investigator for JHU’s National Science Foundation STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES) grant. The SABES grant is a 7.4 million dollar award that leverages the skills and resources of the schools, community, and businesses in three high-minority, low-resource Baltimore city neighborhoods. The goal is to integrate science into a child’s world as opposed to bringing a student into the world of scientists.

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Alisha Nicole Sparks Johns Hopkins University/Ctr for Educational Outreach

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Alisha N. Sparks works to educate and inspire parents to see their roles and responsibilities as a privilege in coordinating the raising and education of their children. Her current work as the Elementary STEM Program Manager with the Center for Educational Outreach at Johns Hopkins University allows her to capitalize on her 15 years of experience in formal and informal education to bring STEM educational experiences to students and parents in Baltimore. Her passion is working with young people and helping them to succeed as she firmly believes that "it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men [and women]" as stated by Frederick Douglass.

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Michael L. Falk Johns Hopkins University Orcid 16x16

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Michael Falk is Vice Dean of Undergraduate Education at Johns Hopkins University's Whiting School of Engineering where he has served on the faculty since 2008 as a Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering with secondary appointments in Mechanical Engineering and in Physics and Astronomy. He holds a B.A. in Physics (1990) and a M.S.E. in Computer Science (1991) from Johns Hopkins University and a Ph.D. in Physics (1998) from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been twice selected as a visiting Chaire Joliot at the École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles at Paris Tech and has organized extended workshops on the physics of glasses and on friction, fracture and earthquakes at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. He has received several awards for his educational accomplishments, and in 2011 he received an award from the university's Diversity Leadership Council for his work on LGBT inclusion. His education research focuses on integrating computation into the undergraduate core curriculum. Falk also serves as the lead investigator for STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES) an NSF funded Community Enterprise for STEM Learning partnership between JHU and Baltimore City Schools.

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As part of an NSF math science partnership between an east coast City Public School district and a u university, city youth from three high minority, high poverty neighborhoods were taught the engineering design process both in school and afterschool. Those in the afterschool program had STEM experts as mentors as well as a paid facilitator. They did projects from NPASS2 and from Engineering Adventures for the first half of the year. Then, in the second half of the school year, they were given the opportunity to do student-driven projects. Students determined what problems they saw in their own communities and which of those problems they wanted to try to solve using their engineering design skills. Third, fourth and fifth grades students were all able to come up with their projects and design and build prototypes to attempt to solve those problems. For example students designed portable homeless shelters, high frequency buzzers to free waste receptacles of rodents and track sensors to prevent train crashes. They then presented their designs or prototypes at a STEM showcase where their families, their classmates and teachers as well as their STEM expert mentors could see the results. Preliminary research indicates that students in the afterschool program have a stronger understanding of the engineering design process than their classmates who were only learning it in school. Particularly strong is their understanding of the test and improve steps in the process.

Newman, C. A., & Parker, C., & Sparks, A. N., & Falk, M. L. (2017, June), Student Driven Engineering Design Projects Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28856

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