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Using the Engineering Design Process to Develop and Implement a High School Introduction to Engineering Course

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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

Innovative Program and Curricular Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1644.1 - 22.1644.12



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Paper Authors


Eugene Rutz University of Cincinnati

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Eugene Rutz, M.S., P.E., is an Academic Director in the College of Engineering & Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati. He manages the college's dual degree programs and the outreach to local high schools. Mr. Rutz has experience as a mechanical design engineer, in nuclear power engineering and as a radiological engineer. He teaches courses for the College using distance learning and instructional technologies.

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The Significance of Instruction, Activities and Interactions for Learning Engineering in a High School SettingThe University in collaboration with local schools offers a collaborative Introduction toEngineering course for high school students. The program is structured to provide the high schoolstudents a similar experience that University students have who participate in the course EngineeringConcepts, a course offered for college students who are undecided about the major they will pursue. Thecollege course provides an introduction to the engineering disciplines offered in the college, facilitatesinteractions between the new students and faculty and current students and introduces new students to thepractice of engineering.The high school program provides this same introduction to engineering so that high school students areinformed regarding the opportunities in these fields. Anderson and Gilbride (2007) have demonstratedthat a participatory program develops greater interest in women students. Tyson et al. (2007) describe theneed for better preparation in order to encourage minorities to enter STEM disciplines. Besterfield-Sacreet al. (2001) report on the significance of students’ attitude toward problem solving and backgroundknowledge to persistence in engineering. To address these needs, the high school program incorporatesthese elements: project-based activities, instruction from high school teachers and university faculty,interactions between students and working professionals, and interaction with current engineering andtechnology students.The collaborators developed the course by first focusing on the learning goals (Wiggins and McTighe,2001) – increasing students’ understanding of, and enthusiasm for, engineering and engineeringtechnology careers so that more students choose to pursue these types of careers – before designing thelearning experiences. The project based nature of the course provides the essential second step in thebackward design process described by Wiggins and McTighe in that demonstration of studentunderstanding for the projects requires students to explain, interpret and apply principles.In this paper we report on students’ evaluation of the significance of instruction, activities, andinteractions in order to learn and apply engineering concepts and increase interest in pursuingengineering and technology careers. We also report on high school teachers’ observationsregarding these three program elements. For the current academic year 10 schools and over 300students are participating.Anderson, L. and K. Gilbride. 2007. The Future of Engineering: A Study of the Gender Bias. McGill Journal ofEducation. Vol. 42, No. 1, pgs. 103-117.Besterfield-Sacre, M., M. Moreno, L. Shuman, and C. Atman. 2001. Gender and Ethnicity Differences in FreshmanEngineering Student Attitudes: A Cross-Institutional Study. Journal of Engineering Education. Vol. 90, No. 4, pgs447-490.Tyson, W,. L. Geginald, K. Borman, and M. Hanson. 2007. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics(STEM) Pathways: High School Science and Math Coursework and Postsecondary Degree Attainment. Journal ofEducation for Students Placed at Risk. Vol. 12, No. 3, pgs. 243-270.Wiggins,G., McTighe, J. 2001. Understanding by Design. Prentice Hall.

Rutz, E. (2011, June), Using the Engineering Design Process to Develop and Implement a High School Introduction to Engineering Course Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18762

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