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The Stem Outreach Initiative At Robert Morris University

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Our Future in Manufacturing: STEM Outreach

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Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1253.1 - 14.1253.14



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Paper Authors


Winston Erevelles Robert Morris University

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Winston F. Erevelles is a Professor of Engineering and the Dean of the School of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science at Robert Morris University. He was also the founding Director of the PRIME coalition – a partnership delivering innovative manufacturing education and career development in Southwest Pennsylvania. Dr. Erevelles was responsible for the design and implementation of the RMU Learning Factory and has raised over $4 million at Robert Morris University (over $6 million in total funding to date) in external funding in the form of grants, gifts, and contracts from foundations, industrial and government sources. His teaching, research, service, and publishing interests are in the areas of Automation, Robotics, Rapid Prototyping, Reverse Engineering, Process Monitoring & Control, and Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

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Jennifer Parsons Robert Morris University

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Jennifer Parsons is the Director of STEM Outreach Programs within the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science. She previously served as the SEMS Outreach Programs Specialist and PRIME Business Manager and is an integral part of all grants from Pittsburgh area foundations, the SME Education Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the US Department of Labor. She continues to work closely with and directly for the Dean of the School in designing outreach programs and has spearheaded the design, implementation, and evaluation of the Molds Minds in Manufacturing outreach initiative for PRIME that reached over 600 students.

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

The STEM Outreach Initiative at Robert Morris University


Numerous reports have called attention to the STEM crisis that threatens the competitiveness of the United States1, 2, 3. The National Academies report “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future”, identifies high priority actions that the United States needs to take for the nation to successfully compete, prosper, and be secure in the global community of the 21st century. These actions include K-12 STEM education improvement including strengthening the skills of teachers through training and education programs and enlarging the pipeline of students who are prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, engineering, or mathematics. Since its inception, the School of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science has been actively involved in outreach activities and reaches over 750 students, parents, and teachers each year. This paper discusses the rationale for the School’s outreach efforts, describes the various programs and their design, analyzes the impact of the outreach program to date, identifies attributes of a successful outreach program, and discusses the future direction and growth of the STEM outreach initiative at the institution.


The appreciation of the importance of manufacturing to the economy dates back to the writings of Adam Smith and Alexander Hamilton. While the manufacturing sector has experienced cyclical change (growth and contraction) over time, it has been one of the most important contributors to the prosperity and competitiveness of industrialized nations. A recent report by from the Economic Policy Institute highlights the continued importance of manufacturing to our economy1. The report states “While U.S. manufacturing has been hit hard by a decade of rapid import growth and job loss, the manufacturing sector remains a vital part of the U.S. economy. The manufacturing sector supported 14 million jobs in 2007, or about 10.1% of total employment.” Manufacturing still accounts for a significant share of U.S. economic production, generating $1.6 trillion or 12.2% of the GDP in 2006. As documented by the Bureau for Economic Analysis, manufacturing casts a bigger shadow by virtue of the trillions of dollars worth of commodities and services that serve as inputs to the sector.

However, the nature of the manufacturing profession has changed over time. Advances in computing, communications, and distribution systems have fundamentally changed the face of manufacturing (Friedman, among others has written extensively about the flattening of the globe) and have resulted in companies manufacturing and competing on a global playing field2, 3. For example, the Boeing 777 airliner has 3 million parts that are provided by over 900 suppliers from 17 countries around the world. The development effort for the new 787 airliner involves 10 countries4, 5. Similar stories may be found across the manufacturing sector. Changes in political, social, and economic conditions in many parts of the world continue to provide interesting new opportunities and challenges to manufacturers.

Erevelles, W., & Parsons, J. (2009, June), The Stem Outreach Initiative At Robert Morris University Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5645

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