Asee peer logo

Techtronics: Hands On Exploration Of Technology In Everyday Life

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1222.1 - 9.1222.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Rodger Dalton

author page

Paul Klenk

author page

Gary Ybarra

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2004-761


Paul A. Klenk, Gary A. Ybarra, Rodger D. Dalton Duke University Pratt School of Engineering


Techtronics is an after school science enrichment program that encourages at-risk middle school students to pursue careers in engineering and technical fields. A joint venture between the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University and Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, North Carolina, Techtronics seeks to stimulate intellectual curiosity in engineering through exposure to four engineering disciplines: civil, mechanical, electrical/computer, and biomedical engineering. The mature program now includes fully developed lesson plans for two sections of students, Techtronics I for 6th grade and Techtronics II for 7th grade, each led by a graduate student coordinator and five undergraduate teaching Fellows. Emphasis is placed on learning through hands-on experience and creating an environment that encourages inquiry. Students first study applicable scientific theory and are introduced to instrumentation and software tools that will be needed later. Each unit then culminates in the construction of a related project such as balsa wood bridges, Lego robotics, AM radios, or heart monitors. With a student return rate of over 70% for 2003-2004, the program is achieving its goal to provide a stimulating creative outlet for students with interest in science and engineering. Techtronics is funded by a three-year grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Student Science Enrichment Program whose goals are to improve students’ competence in science, to nurture their enthusiasm for science and engineering, and to stimulate interest in pursuing careers in engineering and the sciences. This paper gives a brief overview of the Techtronics program and discusses methods of motivating students in an after school setting


The Techtronics after school program, funded by a three year grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, places undergraduate and graduate engineering students in the classroom teaching engineering to students at Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, North Carolina. The program is an extension of the K-PhD program at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering1. Initiated in the fall of 2001, Techtronics utilizes college engineering students as instructors and mentors for middle school students in an after school program that teaches engineering through small group projects. Undergraduate and graduate engineering students have been used in middle school classrooms in engineering outreach classrooms at other institutions including the University of Colorado at Boulder2, the University of Texas at El Paso3, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology4.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Dalton, R., & Klenk, P., & Ybarra, G. (2004, June), Techtronics: Hands On Exploration Of Technology In Everyday Life Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13981

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015