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Transitioning America’s Veterans into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academic Programs

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1550.1 - 22.1550.11



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Paper Authors


Sarah A. Rajala Mississippi State University

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Sarah A. Rajala is currently professor and dean of engineering at Mississippi State University. Previously, she served as department head of electrical and computer engineering at Mississippi State University, professor, associate dean for research and graduate programs, and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University. From 1987 - 1998, she held a visiting appointment in the School of Electrical Engineering at Purdue University. During her career she conducted research on the analysis and process of images and image sequences with application to the areas of color imaging, image coding/compression, and motion estimation and on engineering educational assessment. She has authored and co-authored over 100 refereed papers in these areas and has had contributions published in thirteen books.

Rajala has received numerous awards for her research and professional contributions, including the 2010 WEPAN Educator Award, 2010 Phi Kappa Phi Scholar Award, Michigan Technological University Outstanding Alumnus in 2008, Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 2000, and she is a Fellow of AAAS, ASEE, and IEEE. She has an extensive record of leadership to professional and volunteer organizations including ABET, ASEE, IEEE, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Xi. She served as the President of ASEE during 2008 - 2009.

She received her B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1974, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from Rice University, in 1977 and 1979, respectively.

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Robert A. Green Mississippi State University

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Mr. Green is the Undergraduate Coordinator for the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. In this position he represents the Dean in matters relating to undergraduate students. He directs recruiting programs, manages the college’s scholarship programs, and performs analysis of data related to undergraduate education functions. He is also the college representative to the Community Colleges and other four-year institutions and oversees the dual-enrollment agreements with these institutions. He is actively engaged with the community colleges in terms of developing articulation agreements and is assisting in the development of an introduction to engineering course. Mr. Green also chairs the university’s Leadership Studies Minor committee. He is also a Commander (O-5) in U.S. Navy Reserve where he has served for eighteen years and is currently the Naval Sea Systems Command Reserve Program Manager for the Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration. Mr. Green is also actively engaged in the community where he chairs the local Military Affairs Committee, serves on the Chamber of Commerce Advisory Board, and is on the Board of Directors of the Base Community Council which supports the Columbus Air Force Base. He is working on his Ph.D. dissertation in Public Policy and Administration with a focus on organizational change in the engineering and military professions.

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Rayford B. Vaughn Mississippi State University

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Dr. Vaughn received his Ph.D. from Kansas State University in 1988. He is a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor and the Associate Vice President for Research at Mississippi State University. He teaches and conducts research in the area of Information Security. Prior to joining the University, he completed a twenty-six year career in the US Army retiring as a Colonel and three years as a Vice President of DISA Integration Services, EDS Government Systems. Dr. Vaughn has over 100 publications to his credit and is an active contributor to software engineering and information security conferences and journals. In 2004, Dr. Vaughn was named a Mississippi State University Eminent Scholar and in 2008 he was named Mississippi State University’s most outstanding faculty member. He serves as the Department Head for Computer Science and Engineering from 2009 to 2010. He is the current Director of the MSU Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection and the Center for Computer Security Research where he conducts both classified and unclassified research in a wide variety of areas to include digital forensics; industrial control systems security; and high performance computing security. His research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and private industry.

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Transitioning America’s Veterans into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academic ProgramsThe new GI Bill presents opportunities to bring motivated, mature, dedicated, and disciplinedstudents into academia, especially into STEM fields closely related to their military jobexperience. However, many of these students may have been away from the classroom forseveral years and may not be as prepared to enter college as they might have been prior toentering the military. These veterans have a very high potential for success as students in STEMfields of study, but may need some special assistance and mentoring in refreshing their academicskills.Through two grants from the National Science Foundation, EEC-0951441 and EEC-1037619,the authors are implementing strategies designed to ease and facilitate the transition of theseveterans into STEM curricula at two- and four-year institutions. Demographic data is beingcollected to better understand where these students would be transitioning out of military serviceand where they are likely to enroll in higher education. A consortium of geographicallydistributed industrial and academic partners was developed to forge the necessary articulationagreements with participating partners, conduct a needs assessment, develop transition curricula,and implement pilot projects from which we can gain lessons learned in this overall effort.An initial needs assessment was conducted with a pilot group of veterans to determine whatcoursework might be needed most, what military training and education could be articulated tocollege credit, and what additional special needs this non-traditional group of students had. Somespecial review courses were developed in key subject areas to assist in the students’ preparationfor entry into mainstream classes. These classes will likely prove to be important to the long-term success of these students. Veterans generally do not need the in-depth instruction typicallygiven in remedial courses and the time limit on their GI Bill benefits dictate that the studentscomplete degree requirements in as short a period of time as possible. In addition, our planningtakes into consideration involvement of these students in co-op and internship programs as ameans of assisting them with financial concerns and re-entry into the workforce.The second grant will focus on implementation of a pilot program based on the lessons learnedfrom the first grant. The results presented here will be of benefit to any post-secondary institutioninterested in integrating military veterans into existing STEM curricula.

Rajala, S. A., & Green, R. A., & Vaughn, R. B. (2011, June), Transitioning America’s Veterans into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academic Programs Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18992

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