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University Partnership with High School Teachers to Increase Student Awareness of Engineering

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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

Descriptions of Outreach Programs

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1581.1 - 22.1581.15



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Paper Authors


David W. Richerson University of Utah

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Adjunct Associate Professor, Materials Science and Engineering;
Program Manager NSF STEP program "Utah's Engineers: a Statewide Initiative for Growth;"
Mineral Collections Manager, Utah Museum of Natural History

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Cynthia Furse University of Utah Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Cynthia Furse is the Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Utah and a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is the PI of an NSF DLR project (Integrated System Level Design) and an NSF STEP program (Utah’s Engineers: A Statewide Initiative for Growth). Dr. Furse received her B.S. in electrical engineering with a mathematics minor in 1985, M.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1988, and her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Utah in 1994. Dr. Furse has taught electromagnetics, wireless communication, computational electromagnetics, microwave engineering, antenna design, and introductory electrical engineering. Dr. Furse works to interest young students, particularly women and minorities in engineering and routinely volunteers in Utah's K-12 schools as an engineering mentor, science educator, and engineering career guidance counselor and is active with the Society of Women Engineers, Junior Engineering State, Expanding your Horizons, School-to-Careers, MESA, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Dr. Furse was the Professor of the Year in the College of Engineering at Utah State University for the year 2000. She is the Director of the Center of Excellence for Smart Sensors, an active, funded research program including electromagnetics for biology and remote sensing. The Center focuses on imbedded antennas and sensors in complex environments, including sensors for location of faults on aging aircraft wiring and telemetry systems in the human body. Dr. Furse has directed the Utah “Smart Wiring” program, sponsored by NAVAIR and USAF, since 1998. She is Chief Scientist for LiveWire Test Labs, Inc., a spin off company commercializing devices to locate intermittent faults on live wires. Dr. Furse is a Fellow of the IEEE.

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Amy Aldous Bergerson University of Utah

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Amy Aldous Bergerson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. Dr. Bergerson’s research focuses on college choice and college student retention. In particular, Dr. Bergerson is interested in exploring how underrepresented student populations (i.e., students of color, women, and first-generation college students) make the decision to attend college, and how institutions can improve persistence rates for these students. This research agenda has provided Dr. Bergerson with the opportunity to present papers at the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Association for College Student Personnel Administrators. Dr. Bergerson teaches courses in college access and choice, college student retention theory, leadership theory, and qualitative research methods. Prior to attaining her Ph.D. in 2002, Dr. Bergerson worked as an administrator in higher education for 10 years, serving students at a number of colleges and universities across the United States.

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University Partnership with High School Teachers to Establish a Pipeline of Engineering StudentsMultiple approaches to achieve increases in college enrollment and retention in engineering wereexplored under the first four years of a National Science Foundation funded program. The initialapproach during the first year was to form a team in each of the seven engineering departmentsconsisting of a high school teacher, a faculty member and five undergraduate students. Theobjective was for each team to work with the teacher to develop engineering-based curriculummodules and class demonstrations that the undergraduate team would implement in the teacher’sclassroom. The modules/demonstrations would then be revised as appropriate and offered toother teachers.Assessment during the first year determined that this initial approach was not as effective asdesired due to an inadequate fit between the focus of the specific department and the specificteacher. A new approach was tried the second year. Seven teachers were invited to a daylongworkshop where each student team presented the demonstrations and modules developed duringthe first year. Each teacher filled out a worksheet for each team identifying where in theircurriculum specific activities would fit and also suggesting where that teacher could work withthat specific team for class visits and further module development. This modified approachresulted in improved partnerships with teachers and greater opportunity for each teacher andclass to become more familiar with multiple engineering fields.The successful approach of the second year was expanded for the third and fourth years withgreater than 30 teachers representing more than 20 schools attended the teacher workshop eachyear. This resulted in many more requests from teachers for teams to visit classrooms. Toaccommodate these additional requests, the undergraduate teams were increase from fivestudents to as many as 14 for one team. This addressed another objective of the program,retention. Assessments during the first two years clearly showed that outreach participation andmentoring by college students plus the team and faculty interaction significantly increasedundergraduate excitement in engineering and had a positive effect on retention.The paper provides specific examples of the experiences of the first four years of the program,describes the level of interaction with teachers, describes some of the successfulmodules/demonstrations that have been developed, and presents detailed quantitative assessmentresults.

Richerson, D. W., & Furse, C., & Bergerson, A. A. (2011, June), University Partnership with High School Teachers to Increase Student Awareness of Engineering Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18785

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