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Using Educational “Toys” To Recruit Female Students Into An Electrical Engineering Technology Program

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Diversity, Recruiting, and Retention in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1382.1 - 11.1382.7



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey Richardson Purdue University

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Jeffrey J. Richardson is an Assistant Professor for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Department at Purdue University where he teaches introductory and advanced embedded microcontroller courses. At Purdue, he is active in Project Lead the Way, recruitment and retention of students, applied research and has written several conference papers related to teaching embedded microcontroller systems.

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Emily Toner Purdue University

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EMILY C. TONER is a graduate student pursuing her Mastes Degree in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Department at Purdue University. Her teaching experience includes assisting in introductory programming and circuit analysis courses. Her industrial experience includes controls engineering, manufacturing operations, and project management.

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

Using Educational “Toys” to Recruit Female Students into an Electrical Engineering Technology Program


Recruiting is a major strategic area for many engineering and technology programs across the country. The recruitment of minorities and especially females is of high importance in these programs. As part of the recruiting initiative, a group of female Project Lead the Way students from area high schools attend a one-day workshop hosted by the College of Technology at Purdue University. The students attend various workshops hosted by the different departments within the college. The goal is to introduce the students to the various technology fields and the associated career within these fields. Once provided with this information, the hope is that the students will consider attending the College of Technology at Purdue University.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Department at Purdue University has employed the use of children’s educational toys and learning devices. An educational toy is created by the students when attending the Electrical Engineering Technology workshop. The project is based on a Leap Frog learning activity (Fridge Phonics™) which teaches children the letter names, letter sounds and learning sounds for the alphabet. The students are provided with a complete development environment for an embedded microcontroller which includes a digital speech device. The students complete the design of a toy that reads a decimal number between 0 and 9. When operated, the toy speaks the name of the number, and then spells the name for the user and repeats the name of the number. The students were successful at understanding the technical concepts required to complete the project and rated the workshop as excellent.


The College of Technology based its Project Lead the Way workshop by incorporating three related ideas: helping female students to build their confidence in technology, providing a hands-on opportunity to explore engineering, and highlighting technical careers. The students who attended the workshop would gain insight on technical fields that they may not have previously considered.

Several articles have been written regarding females’ interest in technical careers 1,2,3,4. The level of interest a student may have for engineering can be understood by studying the differences in male and female learning styles. These differences typically become evident at a young age. As children, girls and boys typically play with different types of games; girls play in a way that accentuates relationships while boys are involved with games that emphasize building1. As these youngsters enter classes that are specific to

Richardson, J., & Toner, E. (2006, June), Using Educational “Toys” To Recruit Female Students Into An Electrical Engineering Technology Program Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--853

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