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The Role Of Engineering In Pre College Education

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1031.1 - 6.1031.9



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Paper Authors

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Beverly Baartmans

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Sheryl Sorby

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

Session 2793

The Role of Engineering in Pre-College Education

Sheryl A. Sorby, Beverly J. Baartmans Engineering Fundamentals/Mathematical Sciences Michigan Technological University Houghton, Michigan 49931


As engineering educators, we often complain about the lack of preparation in math and science that our students exhibit when they first arrive on campus. Many who have been on the engineer- ing faculty for a long time remark that the situation is worsening with time (or maybe it’s just a sign of aging!). Increasing the number as well as the diversity of students who enroll in our engi- neering programs as well as improving the preparation of the students we do attract are also often cited as goals among engineering faculty/chairs/deans, but as engineering faculty we usually assume an attitude of “it’s not my problem” when it comes to improving pre-college math and sci- ence instruction or addressing diversity issues. Michigan Tech has received funding for three major initiatives aimed at improving pre-college math and science instruction. In 1998 the Col- lege of Engineering received an Action Agenda grant with a portion of the funding earmarked for a workshop aimed at introducing engineering to pre-college teachers. In 1999 the Mathematics Department received a grant from the NSF under the GK-12 Teaching Fellows program to place Michigan Tech graduate students majoring in Science, Math or Engineering in local school dis- tricts. These graduate students assist teachers in the development of K-12 mathematics and sci- ence courses and programs that more closely align with what is recommended by state and national standards. Finally, in the spring of 2000 the College of Engineering received a significant grant from the NSF Collaborative for Excellence in Teacher Preparation (CETP) with three major thrust areas focused on bringing engineering applications into the pre-college classroom. This paper outlines the major activities from each of these grants as well as initial assessment results.

Initiative 1: An Introduction to Engineering Workshop for K-12 Teachers

The Rationale. Increasing the number of women and minorities who choose to study engineering has been a significant area of national endeavor for the past 15-20 years, however, despite a great deal of effort, the percentage of women who choose engineering has remained fairly static. Typi- cally, less than 20% of the engineering students nationwide are women, although some engineer- ing disciplines have a significantly higher proportion of women in their ranks. The number of minority students who choose engineering is depressingly low. Virtually millions of dollars have been spent in trying to improve this situation, with relatively minor gains. Many efforts have been aimed at bringing qualified high school women/minorities to campus for a summer session which is meant to serve as an introduction to engineering and to encourage these underrepresented groups to enroll in an engineering or technological field. Recently, new directions have been investigated which appear to be effective in getting to the roots of this complex problem. Some of the more promising projects for increasing the participation of women and minorities in engineer-

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Baartmans, B., & Sorby, S. (2001, June), The Role Of Engineering In Pre College Education Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9752

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