With a grant of nearly $ 4 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the CRF College of Engineering and Computer Science (CEC) and partner institutions are developing a unique national high school engineering course in its own right. kind.
The program, titled Engineering For US All (e4usa), began in 2018 as a pilot project to test the effectiveness of a standardized engineering degree program in multiple states with the aim of developing a possible pathway for high school students get college credits. It offers an educational program for high school students to learn and demonstrate engineering principles, skills, and practices, while training their educators in how to teach specialty courses. Students are recruited from public, independent and parish schools in rural, suburban and urban areas.
The program is in partnership with the University of Maryland, Arizona State University, Morgan State University, and Virginia Tech. During its initial three-year pilot phase, researchers refined a curriculum developed by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the College Board. Currently, the curriculum of the program incorporates engineering principles and a student design project and aligns with next-generation science standards for K-12 education.
Assistant professor of engineering training and director of the SUCCEED undergraduate program, Bruk Berhane, has been leading the efforts of the CRF’s CEC since its transition to the CRF in 2019.
“Exposure and access to engineering can really level the playing field for the next generation of students and professionals. Engineering careers offer direct entry into an increasingly small middle class, ”said Berhane. “Even though e4usa students end up choosing other specializations in academic or professional fields, the engineering exposure teaches very valuable processes and ways of thinking. ”
Today, the e4usa program has more than 50 high school students participating through the CRF. Nationally, e4usa works with 36 high schools and over 2,000 students in 12 states, the District of Columbia and the US Virgin Islands. New NSF funding will help expand the reach of e4usa to include approximately 5,000 students and 50 teachers nationwide.
“This is a program that fills me with pride and hope as it prepares for a future where engineering education is accessible to all. When we partner with schools that benefit from a diverse student body, we reach those who were previously under-represented in engineering and in many cases have not been able to access engineering courses at all, ”he said. said Darryll J. Pines, president of the University of Maryland and principal investigator of the program. “I know firsthand the life-changing benefit of quality engineering education, and I’m proud that our university and Engineering for US All will continue to break down barriers for future students.”
Students in the program explore engineering in society, develop professional skills, and engage in community-driven engineering design experiences, all aimed at helping them see themselves as engineers. However, one of the hallmarks of e4usa is that the program assumes that not all program participants will pursue a career in engineering, but recognizes that all still benefit from being exposed to engineering thinking and skills.
Since its inception, Vanderbilt University has supported the program by evaluating the curriculum, student learning, and teacher training. Stacy Klein-Gardner, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University and Co-Director and Co-PI for e4usa, said: “Unlike other current introductory engineering course offerings, e4usa presents low barriers to entry and is less expensive to implement. Students only need to be in Algebra I, and educators can learn to teach engineering regardless of background.
Other contributors include NASA Goddard, Project Lead the Way, and the College Board.
“NSF is helping build the country’s future engineering workforce, and a key part of this is enabling more students to access and prepare for undergraduate engineering education.” said Dawn Tilbury, deputy director of the NSF Engineering Branch. “e4usa is helping to solve the mystery and democratize the learning and practice of engineering.”
The program brings high school teachers together to form a network to create a large learning community. An online platform offered as part of the program allows teachers to collaborate, learn from each other, and receive support by sharing educational materials and challenges.
“The teacher is one of the most important elements in student learning,” Berhane said. “The way we teach design-based thinking to students transcends scientific standards and other disciplines, which is why it is essential to effectively train teachers to present this way of thinking to their students and to build community.” collaborative for them. ”
As the # 1 college in the United States for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students and # 6 for awarding bachelor’s degrees to African Americans according to the American Society for Engineering Association (ASEE) , our participation in e4usa validates our commitment to preparing the next generation of highly skilled engineering and IT professionals, ”said John. L Volakis, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science of the FIU. “I am delighted that the program is even closer to offering this incredible opportunity to all American students.”