July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
The researchers were awarded an NSF S-STEM grant through DUE to explore the connection between student support networks and success within collegiate STEM field majors in this on-going diversity study. The Rising Scholar student participants were selected from a pool of low socio-economic status applicants that were denied admission straight into engineering, but given admission into the university. Acceptance into the Rising Scholar program was evaluated on the basis of the quality of the student’s support networks and their readiness for higher education. A four year annual scholarship of $6,500 was offered in exchange for providing data to the researchers and following a proscribed path through the institution filled with opportunities to meet professional contacts and potential support network members. A significant portion of the recommended process for the Rising Scholar students was their involvement in on-going multi-disciplinary research activities within the institution through pre-existing programs.
Long-term feedback from BAE students has shown how the varied activities of our discipline appeal to students that do not feel comfortable with the rigid academic silos of the larger engineering disciplines. It was hypothesized that this broad-based approach to engineering problems might also appeal to the undecided general nature of the Rising Scholar student population. Project opportunities were felt to be the optimal manner to appeal to this interest, and they were provided at the pre-sophomore and pre-junior levels, with the aim to get the student associated with an on-going faculty directed project initially and then to let them conduct their own project next. Larger communication exercises based upon the research activities were incorporated into the seminar classes with the ultimate aim of producing undergraduate journal papers for the students.
Multiple Rising Scholar students have elected to become involved with an interdisciplinary engineering research project co-directed by the Principle Investigator, an effort to develop a cooling pad for sows in farrowing crates. This project is on-going and utilizes researchers from BAE, Animal Sciences, and the animal behavioral unit of USDA. There are US and foreign patents pending on the technology, and a commercial partner has concluded an agreement with the university licensing arm. Students are exposed to the merged worlds of academic research and commercial product development. The overall technical effort involves thermodynamics, heat transfer, electronic sensor selection and placement, computerized data acquisition, agricultural building technology, swine physiology and behavior, and the interplay between the various elements. The students have the ability to find an element within the work to call their own and pursue, and there have been six unique Rising Scholar projects in three years.
The data collection under the approved research protocols was aimed at the tracking the growth of the students’ professional support networks, so there were no pre-approved questions regarding the efficacy of multi-disciplinary projects. However, after-the-fact data would seem to indicate that the Rising Scholar students have selected final STEM majors within the university that are smaller and create a more familial environment for their students, like Biological & Agricultural Engineering.
Stwalley, C. S., & Stwalley, R. M., & Booth-Womack, V. L., & Baldwin, G. L., & Larose, S. (2021, July), Using Board Spectrum Technological Projects to Introduce Diverse Student Populations to Biological & Agricultural Engineering Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37986
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