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The Invention Bootcamp, a Four-Week Summer Course For High School Underrepresented Students in a University Setting

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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

Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Beyond the University

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Nathalie Neve Portland State University

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Nathalie Nève is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department of Portland State University, OR. She obtained her PhD from the same University in 2010. Her doctoral research focused on cellular biomechanics in microfluidics environments. After her graduation, Nathalie Nève joined Biotronik, a pacemaker/defibrillator company for three years. There, as a clinical studies engineer she managed a study involving more than 2700 patients and aimed at gaining knowledge about atrial fibrillation. She returned to academia in Fall 2013. She now teaches Fluid Dynamics and is in charge of the freshman engineering program in Mechanical Engineering department. It is a tri-term course introducing theoretical and hands-on engineering to a wide variety of students. She is also director of the Invention Bootcamp at PSU, a 4-weeks summer course for high school students in a university setting.
She received her BS and MS degrees in Mechanical and Materials Engineering from the EPF, Ecole Polytechnique Feminine, France, and an MS degree in Bioengineering from Clemson University, SC (2004).

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Shannon K. Keith-Marsoun Portland State University

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Shannon Keith-Marsoun has a B.S. in Community Health Education from Portland State University and has started pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from PSU. Shannon was an engineering mentor for the PSU Invention Bootcamp 2016 and she is the Project Coordinator for Invention Bootcamp 2017. Additionally, Shannon is a customer support specialist at Wold Consulting, focusing on association management for non-profit technical standards organizations. She is the Assistant Corporate Secretary for the Distributed Management Task Force, Inc. and has ten years of standards industry experience in customer support and project management.

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The Invention Bootcamp is a four-week interdisciplinary program where twenty-five high school students underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are invited to discover and experience the worlds of engineering, innovation, and entrepreneurship in a college setting. The course creates, deploys and tests in the field a new educational approach to inspire future inventors. In addition to teaching STEM skills in a hands-on and collaborative manner, the course presents high school students with role models in the form of undergraduate mentors, instructors, researchers, and guest speakers in class and during field trips. The course thus helps empower them, helps them gain confidence in the classroom, but also experience a foretaste of being a college student. By the end of the pilot course in Summer 2016, we asked students if they felt they could be engineers or inventors in the future. A strong majority (91%) agreed they could. Several aspects of the bootcamp are unique, and we would like to share the key learnings. They include: 1) The application process, which was based on non-cognitive variables. No grades were required. Applicants needed to deliver a 2-min video showing their motivation and how they would improve their school cafeteria. Students needed to have a curiosity towards STEM fields and the invention process. A recommendation letter was also needed. 2) The population targeted, which is underrepresented students in STEM such as minorities, women, and low income students. 3) The hiring and training of eight undergraduate mentors and a mentor coordinator. We had one mentor per group of three high school students. The mentor program created a supportive environment to provide students with the emotional, academic and technical support they needed to be successful in this course. By offering close, near-peer support, we enhanced student learning, classroom effectiveness, and retention of students. The majority of mentors was in the classroom with students for the entire program. They all are engineering students with a strong engineering background, and a good attitude under stress and in groups. 4) The hands-on curriculum, that meshed engineering tools (soldering iron, milling machine, hand tools, laser cutter, 3D printer), visit of guest lecturers (local entrepreneurs and innovators), and work on group projects using a human-center design thinking approach.

Neve, N., & Keith-Marsoun, S. K. (2017, June), The Invention Bootcamp, a Four-Week Summer Course For High School Underrepresented Students in a University Setting Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28983

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