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Work In Progress: Middle School Architectural Engineering Education Pilot Program : Exploring Building Industry Careers as a Catalyst for Pursuing Engineering Careers

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Architectural Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Architectural Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Laura Jun Chee Yong Pennsylvania State University

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Laura Jun Chee Yong is an MS student and a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Architectural Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. Her interest includes promoting interest in STEM and STEM careers through outreach; structural design of buildings, sustainability in buildings.

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Linda M Hanagan P.E. Pennsylvania State University

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Linda M. Hanagan, PhD, PE, is an Associate Professor of Architectural Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. She has been on the faculty at Penn State since 1998. After receiving her PhD in 1994 from Virginia Tech, she served on the faculty at the University of Miami before joining Penn State. Dr. Hanagan has focused most of her research career on floor vibration serviceability, with a strong emphasis on steel structures. She has overseen dozens of research projects, participated in several committees, supervised many students, and written numerous papers that have contributed to the body of knowledge in vibration serviceability. While Dr. Hanagan's primary research interest has been in the vibration serviceability of structures, one of her greatest passions is teaching. Her area of teaching specialization is structural engineering with a particular emphasis in the analysis and design of buildings. At Penn State she currently teaches a structural analysis course, the advanced steel design course and a graduate level course in steel connections. Her approach to these courses is to provide strategies for complex problem solving and a framework for lifelong learning. She is the recipient of the Penn State Engineering Society’s Outstanding Teaching Award (2003) and the Premier Teaching Award (2008). Building on a strong teaching record and an interest in building a more diverse engineering community, Dr. Hanagan has begun to expand her research into engineering education in the K12 realm with a focus on strategies to increase interest in pursuing engineering careers, particularly in under-represented groups.

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Allison Godwin Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE) Orcid 16x16

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Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and Chemical Engineering at Purdue University. Her research focuses what factors influence diverse students to choose engineering and stay in engineering through their careers and how different experiences within the practice and culture of engineering foster or hinder belongingness and identity development. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education. Her research earned her a National Science Foundation CAREER Award focused on characterizing latent diversity, which includes diverse attitudes, mindsets, and approaches to learning, to understand engineering students’ identity development. She has won several awards for her research including the 2016 American Society of Engineering Education Educational Research and Methods Division Best Paper Award and the 2018 Benjamin J. Dasher Best Paper Award for the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. She has also been recognized for the synergy of research and teaching as an invited participant of the 2016 National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium and the Purdue University 2018 recipient of School of Engineering Education Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the 2018 College of Engineering Exceptional Early Career Teaching Award.

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Studies have shown that engineering does not attract and retain enough underrepresented engineering graduates to meet the demand for engineers in the workforce. Providing opportunities for children from diverse backgrounds to participate, learn, engage, and excel in STEM subjects in an inclusive environment at an early age may attract more diverse individuals to pursue STEM careers. The years in middle school are essential periods in promoting student’s interest in pursuing and preparing for a career path in STEM. There are so many opportunities in the building industry to connect students to engineering and potentially spark interest in pursuing engineering careers. Because buidlings are accessible and relatble, engineering learning can be made socially relevant to students by leveraging the connections that have already been established between students and buildings.

This paper aims to lay the groundwork for developing, implementing, and assessing the efficacy of a classroom intervention. The purpose of the proposed classroom intervention is to increase interest of 8th grade students from low-income households and STEM underrepresented groups in pursuing STEM-related careers, with a focus on engineering careers in the building industry. We draw on social cognitive career theory and identity-based motivation to understand how this intervention can support identity development, goal setting, and motivation for these future goals. The short-term classroom intervention provides opportunities for students to (1) engage in architectural engineering project-based learning activities ;(2) converse with a small group of architectural engineers from different background and areas of expertise through a panel discussion session about identities, perceptions, and experiences of being an engineer, motivation and pathway to becoming an engineer, information about tasks and responsibilities of current work; and (3) participate in career planning activities, with a focus on academic pathways to prepare for STEM oriented careers, implemented by the school counseling department. We hypothesize that this intervention will help support students’ abilities to see themselves as STEM people (i.e., identity) and support students future goals in STEM. To assess these outcomes, student’s pre- and post-intervention self-efficacy, personal goals, outcome expectations, and interest in engineering activities and careers will be assessed using the combined discipline-specific subscales from STEM Career Interest Survey (STEM-CIS) to understand the effects of the intervention on student’s interest in STEM subjects and careers. Additional student reflection data, prompted with open-ended questions, will be collected to provide insight to improve the intervention strategies. We plan to analyze the quantitative data using paired t-test for pre/post data and conduct a thematic analysis of the open-ended survey responses. These data will inform one another to understand how this effort provides supports for students career pathways. The results of this work can provide useful ways to better support STEM career pathways in middle-school students.

Yong, L. J. C., & Hanagan, L. M., & Godwin, A. (2021, July), Work In Progress: Middle School Architectural Engineering Education Pilot Program : Exploring Building Industry Careers as a Catalyst for Pursuing Engineering Careers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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