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Unique Extracurricular Program Recruits Women into Engineering Through Orthopaedic Biomechanics

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session - Pre-college Programs for Women

Tagged Divisions

Women in Engineering and Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Jenni Buckley University of Delaware

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Dr. Buckley is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Delaware. She received her Bachelor’s of Engineering (2001) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware, and her MS (2004) and PhD (2006) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked on computational and experimental methods in spinal biomechanics. Since 2006, her research efforts have focused on the development and mechanical evaluation of medical and rehabilitation devices, particularly orthopaedic, neurosurgical, and pediatric devices. She teaches courses in design, biomechanics, and mechanics at University of Delaware and is heavily involved in K12 engineering education efforts at the local, state, and national levels.

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Amy Trauth University of Delaware Orcid 16x16

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Amy Trauth-Nare, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of Science Education at the University of Delaware's Professional Development Center for Educators. In her role, Amy works collaboratively with K-12 science and engineering teachers to develop and implement standards-based curricula and assessments. She also provides mentoring and coaching and co-teaching support to K-12 teachers across the entire trajectory of the profession. Her research focuses on teacher education, classroom assessment, and P-16 environmental and engineering education.

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Laura Meszaros Dearolf The Perry Initiative


Amy C Bucha The Perry Initiative

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Amy has been involved in the Perry Initiative since 2012. Since then she has run programs in multiple cites, managed all local volunteers, and created a functional inventory and shipping system. While working with Perry, Amy received her Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware and now works for the University of Delaware as a Researcher in the Nursing Department designing and testing teaching equipment for nursing trainees.

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Lisa L Lattanza MD University of California San Francisco

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Professor and Chief of Hand, Elbow and Upper Extremity Surgery at UCSF
Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery Fellowship Director
President and Co-Founder of The Perry Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in STEM and Orthopaedic Surgery.

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To recruit women into the engineering pipeline, the field of engineering should be framed at the pre-college level intellectually as accessible, universally beneficial to society, and highly engaging. We have developed a unique, daylong extracurricular program; the program’s goal is to encourage high school women to enter the engineering pipeline by introducing concepts in orthopaedic biomechanics. Our program reaches approximately 1,200 students annually at 34 program locations nationwide. Our curriculum consists of four hours of hands-on mock surgeries and biomechanics experiments interspersed with two hours of interactive lecture from practicing women engineers and surgeons.

To assess program impact, we conducted an online follow-up survey of program alumnae (N=2524). A similar survey was sent to a control group of STEM-inclined high school females (N=2216). Thirty-four percent of alumnae and 8.8% of control group responded to the survey. For program alumnae still in high school, 98% plan to enroll in a 4-year college or university, and 97% intend to major in STEM – of those, 32% plan to major in engineering. For alumnae currently enrolled in higher education, 100% are enrolled in 4-year institutions, with 93% in STEM majors and 23% in engineering majors. Compared to the control group, program alumnae in high school were less likely to be undecided majors (23% and 32% controls, p=0.04); a relatively higher percentage of alumnae majored in engineering (8.3% vs. 23%), although this trend failed to reach statistical significance due to a relatively small control population (p=0.07).

Results provide strong evidence that our program is effective for recruiting and retaining high school women in engineering. We believe efficacy of our program is attributed to its stickiness; that is, program curricula are participant-centered, challenging, focused on women engineering and orthopaedics. Ours may be a model for other out-of-school time programs focused on diversifying the STEM workforce.

Buckley, J., & Trauth, A., & Meszaros Dearolf, L., & Bucha, A. C., & Lattanza, L. L. (2016, June), Unique Extracurricular Program Recruits Women into Engineering Through Orthopaedic Biomechanics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27106

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