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Using Information Technology For Nationwide Engineering Outreach: Assessing The Outcomes

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Instructional Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1375.1 - 9.1375.18



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Marionneaux

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Michael Edmondson

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Matthew McDaniel

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Jay Daly

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Eugene Ressler

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Stephen Ressler

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

Session 2615

Using Information Technology for Nationwide Engineering Outreach to Middle-School and High-School Students: Assessing the Outcomes

Stephen Ressler, Eugene Ressler, Jay Daly, Michael Edmondson, Stephen A. Marionneaux, Matthew McDaniel United States Military Academy/Newtown High School/ Northside High School/ Lexington Traditional Magnet School/Douglas MacArthur High School


This paper presents a description and comprehensive assessment of the West Point Bridge Design Contest—a nationwide, Internet-based competition that has provided an engaging introductory engineering experience to over 30,000 high-school and middle-school students in the past two years. We begin by outlining the challenge presented by the growing shortage of home-grown engineers in the United States. We review existing national engineering competitions and note their influences on the development of our contest infrastructure—a specially developed simulation software package and a web-based judging system. We briefly describe the implementation of the contest and present an assessment of the extent to which it is accomplishing its goals. The assessment results serve as the basis for conclusions about the viability of IT-enabled engineering outreach.

The Challenge

Through their role in research, development, and industrial innovation, engineers make a disproportionately large contribution to U.S. economic health and national security. These contributions notwithstanding, the U.S. faces a potentially serious shortage of engineers in the near future. According to the National Science Board, the U.S. is unable to keep pace with other countries in the rate at which college-age youth earn science and engineering (S&E) degrees. Six percent of American 24-year olds hold S&E degrees, versus 10% in the United Kingdom and 9% in South Korea. Even as U.S. degree production lags, the number of S&E jobs is expected to increase three times faster than all other occupations in the next decade.1

To compensate for this shortfall, the U.S. has increasingly relied on foreign-born engineers. In 1999, 10% of U.S. residents holding S&E bachelor’s degrees, 20% of those holding master’s degrees, and 25% of those holding doctorates were born abroad. This situation produces many economic and social benefits but also entails some significant risks. First, many critical public sector engineering jobs require U.S. citizenship.2 Second, the continued availability of foreign engineers depends, in part, on America's attractiveness as a place to live and work. And America’s relative attractiveness will continue to decline as worldwide economic development increases the demand and opportunities for foreign-born engineers in their own countries. Without a commensurate increase in the number of home-grown engineers, U.S. preeminence in science and technology will eventually erode.1

Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Marionneaux, S., & Edmondson, M., & McDaniel, M., & Daly, J., & Ressler, E., & Ressler, S. (2004, June), Using Information Technology For Nationwide Engineering Outreach: Assessing The Outcomes Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13078

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