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Work in Progress: STEM Energy Education in California's San Joaquin Valley

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Experiences of Underrepresented Students in Engineering

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Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Abbas Ghassemi University of California, Merced

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Dr. Ghassemi is a Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering and is currently a faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California Merced. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization, and Environmental Effects Journal. . His area of expertise and interest includes renewable energy, advanced water treatment, carbon cycle including carbon generation and management, and biofuels. He has extensive expertise in education, research, and outreach in energy resources including water quality and quantity, renewable energy and environmental issues. His research areas of interest include risk-based decision making, renewable energy and water, carbon management and sequestration, energy efficiency and pollution prevention, multiphase flow and process control.

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Christopher A. Butler University of California, Merced

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Since 2012, Christopher Butler has served as the Assistant Director of the Engineering Service Learning program at the University of California, Merced. In this time as Assistant Director, the Engineering Service Learning program has provided design experience to more than 1,800 students, completed over 15 community facing engineering student-lead projects, and produced more than 200,000 community service hours. Butler brings faculty and industry partners together to mentor and support these student projects as students gain real-world experiences the necessary skills for future careers.

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Title: STEM Energy Education in California San Juaquin valley (Work in Progress) By: Abbas Ghassemi, University of California, Merced; Marina Shapiro, California State University, Bakersfield; Stephen Waller, Bakersfield College

Abstract: There are abundant evidence demonstrating greater student success in terms of time to retention, graduation, job placement, and advancing to higher positions once hired when they are involved with adaptive learning throughout their academic experience. This is particularly true of first generation and underserved minority students, due in part to these students not having access to tools on their own outside their academic programs. This project seeks to reduce large educational equity gaps in STEM fields that are experienced by Hispanic and other underrepresented minority (URM) students who live in California's Central Valley. The collaboration between California State University at Bakersfield (CSU Bakersfield), the University of California at Merced (UC Merced), and Bakersfield College, three academic institutions, located in the San Joaquin valley to serve these students in this demonstration project. These equity gaps exist despite strong demand for STEM graduates in the local economy, which is largely based upon the energy and agricultural industries. The hypothesis underlying the project is that URM students have a limited perspective of their possible contributions to improving technology due to social issues, such as knowing few in their community who are scientists or engineers. Furthermore, when URM students enter STEM fields, they fail to see the connection between their studies and real-world problems because gateway courses in current curricula fail to make that connection explicit. This project will introduce the concepts behind practical technical problems at the intersection of energy, water, and agriculture, problems relevant to the Central Valley, into gateway STEM courses via a novel combination of two pedagogies, flipped classroom and Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL), which we call Flipped Classroom- Enhanced-Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (FC-E-POGIL). Implementation of these pedagogies will vary from academic institution to academic institution and from course to course as described in the body of the proposal. However, in all cases, the goal will be to increase student engagement so that URM STEM students will persist in their studies and thereby close the current large equity gaps. Suitable metrics will be collected during the project, and a final report that includes curricula will be produced and made available online for future scaling.

Ghassemi, A., & Butler, C. A. (2020, June), Work in Progress: STEM Energy Education in California's San Joaquin Valley Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35681

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