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Work in Progress: Linking Clemson University General Engineering and South Carolina High Schools

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

First-Year Programs: Sunday 5-Minute Work-in-Progress Postcard Session

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First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Sarah Corinne Rowlinson University of Florida

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Sarah Rowlinson received the B.S. degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL, USA in 2012, and the Ph.D. degree in bioengineering from Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA in 2017.

She is a Lecturer in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering with the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA. As a doctoral student, she studied breast tissue engineering and was an Instructor for the Clemson University General Engineering Program. She also participated in the NSF’s Innovation Corps for Learning (I-Corps L) program and was a research mentor through National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experience and Mentoring (REM).

Dr. Rowlinson is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education, Biomedical Engineering Society, and Society For Biomaterials.

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Elizabeth Anne Stephan Clemson University

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Dr. Elizabeth Stephan is the Director of Academics for the General Engineering Program at Clemson University. She holds a B.S. and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Akron. Since 2002, she has taught, developed, and and now coordinates the first-year curriculum. As the lead author of the "Thinking Like an Engineer" textbook, currently in its 3rd edition, she has been the primary author team–member in charge of the development of the MyEngineeringLab system. She is also the Chief Advisor for SC Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.

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Jonathan R. A. Maier Clemson University

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Jonathan R.A. Maier earned his PhD and MS degrees in mechanical engineering from Clemson University, and an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Maier has conducted research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and both large and small companies. Now in his seventh year of teaching for the General Engineering Program at Clemson University, Dr. Maier teaches courses ranging from introductory engineering to engineering programming, graphics, and the history of design and technology. In his copious spare time, Dr. Maier enjoys photography and the great outdoors. You can follow him on twitter @JRAMaier.

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This Work in Progress paper describes the statewide program Accelerate, an immersive linkage/transfer pathway for South Carolina high school students interested in engineering. With increases in traditional and transfer enrollment, Clemson University is educating more South Carolina students today than ever before in its 120-year history. Educational attainment in South Carolina for high school is 86% and for secondary degrees is 26.2% [National Center for Education Statistics 2016]. Creating intentional pathways to higher education for South Carolina residents can lead to increased educational attainment and fulfillment of regional and national STEM workforce demands. Our state has drastically expanded in recent years to provide a manufacturing basis for industries in the areas of energy, logistics, aviation, transportation, and healthcare. This has resulted in a substantial need for growth within the engineering workforce.

Science and Mathematics (GSSM) to 1) cultivate and maintain in-state engineering talent, 2) attract more women and minorities into engineering, especially from under-resourced school districts, and 3) keep gifted students challenged while developing collegiate study skills. Beginning in their sophomore year, motivated high school students enroll in an integrated set of courses in mathematics, engineering, English, and science. The engineering courses are taught remotely by the General Engineering faculty from Clemson University. Upon completion of the program and graduation from high school, students earn college credit hours that, upon acceptance, can be applied to an engineering degree at three universities in South Carolina, including Clemson, the flagship engineering program in the state.

Throughout the year, students participate in synchronous online classes and routinely use learning management platforms such as Canvas and Pearson MyLabPlus to access in class activities, homework assignments and recorded classes. Accelerate facilitators at each site enable students to work in their home district while receiving critical mentoring, proctoring and communication services. Accelerate has expanded over the years, starting with five school district partners and growing to eleven districts across the state.

As of Fall 2016, one cohort has graduated the Accelerate program and three cohorts are currently active (from sophomore through senior year). We can now begin to assess program success in terms of program retention on a year-to-year basis, retention of students in South Carolina higher education, and transition into the Clemson University engineering program. In general, we see programmatic retention improvement in the transition between the first and second year of the program. The inaugural cohort graduated 16 students, with 15 of the students attended a South Carolina university and 14 enrolled in Clemson University. Of the 14 Clemson University students, 13 enrolled in a STEM discipline and 12 enrolled in an engineering discipline. In this paper, we further discuss persistence of inaugural students in their first semester at the university and lessons learned for implementing a statewide program. These preliminary findings indicate that Accelerate is a working, improving, and expanding statewide model for linking public high schools and higher education in South Carolina.

Rowlinson, S. C., & Stephan, E. A., & Maier, J. R. A. (2017, June), Work in Progress: Linking Clemson University General Engineering and South Carolina High Schools Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29168

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