The goal of the research in engineering education and outreach is to increase awareness and interest in pursuing engineering as a career, as well as to understand what factors help students be successful once they have chosen engineering as a major.
These efforts are being developed by the department in partnership with other UMBC faculty, the University of Maryland Medical School, George Washington University, the Maryland State Department of Education, high school technology education teachers and key businesses.
Under development is the INSPIRES (INcreasing Student Participation, Interest and Recruitment in Engineering and Science) curriculum for high school students, which incorporates hands-on activities, on-line interactive animations, mathematical design simulation and inquiry based learning with ‘real world’ engineering design exercises. These exercises increase interest by bridging the gap between real life and the classroom. Teacher training is a vital component of this project and is provided to in-service teachers.
In addition, we have developed curricula which introduce math students to simple engineering problems and applications which can be solved using algebra. Middle and high school algebra teachers are paired with undergraduate engineering students to learn how to complete simple experiments and activities and apply basic mathematics. This project addresses the need to increase both the awareness of and interest in career opportunities in engineering while building students’ math skills and understanding through the use of engineering applications. We are also involved with Northrop Grumman’s TEAACH program and provide teacher workshops with hands-on activities and demonstrations to increase student understanding in math and science while providing an interest in engineering.
The department’s outreach programs include involvement with middle school and high school students through YESS and Computer Mania Day, as well as the development of a high-quality video, “You Can Be Anything,” which encourages young women to study science and technology; which is featured during Computer Mania Day. In addition, our undergraduate chemical engineering students visit area middle and high schools each academic year to introduce engineering concepts and opportunities using hands-on activities and demonstrations. We continue to explore ways to increase the number and success of students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, receiving degrees in STEM areas through the investigation of a two-week summer bridge program, a mentoring program, a scholarship program and an internship program on student enrollment and retention.