Asee peer logo

Thriving Or Surviving K 12 Engineering Outreach At A Research Extensive University

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Assessing K - 12 Engineering Education Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1341.1 - 11.1341.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Gary Ybarra Duke University

visit author page

GARY A. YBARRA, Ph.D., is a Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering. He has been leading K-12 engineering outreach programs since 1988. He received a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1992 and has been on the ECE faculty at Duke University since 1993. He is the director of Engineering K-Ph.D., a K-12 Engineering Outreach Center in the Pratt School of Engineering. In addition to his K-12 outreach work, he conducts research in microwave imaging and electrical impedance tomography.

visit author page


Paul Klenk Duke University

visit author page

PAUL A. KLENK is a doctoral candidate in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering where he received a B.S.E. Degree in 2001. He just finished his fourth year as a Graduate Student Coordinator for the Techtronics After-School Program at Rogers Herr Middle School. He has taught engineering courses for the Talent Identification Program at Duke University and is working with the team creating the TeachEngineering Digital Library. In addition to his K-12 outreach work, he is researching novel therapeutic radiation delivery methods for cancer treatment on a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

visit author page


Glenda Kelly Duke University

visit author page

GLENDA KELLY, Ph.D., Research Associate for the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University serves as Program Manager and Evaluator for K-12 Engineering Outreach Initiatives. She has consulted to the Talent Identification Program at Duke University, was formerly Assistant Professor in the Medical School at the University of North Carolina, and received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Duke University in 1982. She coordinates and evaluates the Duke MUSIC and MUSCLE Engineering Teaching Fellows Programs and is the Evaluator for the Techtronics Program.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Thriving or Surviving K-12 Engineering Outreach at a Research Extensive University


Successful K-12 engineering outreach at any university requires substantial support from the administration at the department, school/college and university levels. It also requires dedication of faculty, staff and university students to the outreach activities. Historically the traditional faculty performance metrics at research extensive universities have not included K-12 outreach initiatives. Therefore faculty members at these universities may not have the incentive to create and sustain K-12 outreach programs. Many engineering faculty and students at research extensive universities are beginning to play a critical role in the education of K-12 students. A national trend is occurring at such universities, where K-12 engineering outreach excellence is deemed consistent with the mission of the research university. This trend represents institutional change, a required program attribute by the National Science Foundation. This paper examines the institutional changes taking place at research extensive universities across the nation that support K-12 engineering outreach and compares them to those taking place in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. We describe the critical events that have changed the Duke University institution and have led to faculty incentives for K-12 engineering outreach participation.


Flat or declining math and science competency in K-12 students in the U.S.1, flat or declining enrollments of U.S. citizens in undergraduate engineering programs2, and the rising dependence of society on technology have led to several initiatives in the last decade. These include the creation of the American Society for Engineering Education EngineeringK-12 Center3, the National Science Foundation’s GK-12 Teaching Fellows4 and Math Science Partnership5 programs, Project Lead the Way6, and a substantial list of institutions that have developed K-12 engineering outreach programs nationally7.

Doctoral/Research university engineering programs have a unique and essential role in K-12 engineering outreach. These programs have the resources to translate both the process and content from cutting edge research into lessons and activities that provide immediate relevance and add inspiration and excitement to the math and science concepts children learn in the K-12 classroom8. The primary commitment of a research university is the generation and transmission of new knowledge. The traditional metrics used in the appointment, promotion and tenure process for faculty at research universities include scholarly publication of cutting edge research results, successful graduation of Ph.D. students, funding of research activities leading to indirect cost recovery by the university, and to some extent effective teaching.

There are three necessary conditions for the development and sustainment of successful K-12 engineering outreach at a research university. First, the requirement of committed faculty members who are dedicated to the mission K-12 engineering outreach programs. Second, the faculty members’ careers must benefit from the outreach activities. Third, the institution must

Ybarra, G., & Klenk, P., & Kelly, G. (2006, June), Thriving Or Surviving K 12 Engineering Outreach At A Research Extensive University Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--685

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: © 2006 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