Engaging pre-college minority students at a technical engineering research conference

Tizoc Cruz-Gonzalez, Sarah Rose Sobek, Julianna Marie Abel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Increasing diversity in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce and attracting diverse students into STEM disciplines have become issues of national importance. One method to aid in achieving this goal is through offering pre-college interventions to underserved students. This paper discusses and examines a novel pre-college STEM intervention that occurs at a technical engineering research conference. The intervention consists of a miniworkshop that has six components: (1) an introduction of graduate student mentors, (2) a general introduction to the engineering field of Smart Material and Structures through a PowerPoint presentation and live demonstrations of smart materials, (3) a low-cost design and build engineering activity that uses smart materials to demonstrate the applicability of the field of research, (4) an interactive tour of the conference hardware competition which provides concrete examples of cutting edge research, (5) a small group Q&A with graduate students engaged in research, and finally (6) a panel discussion with diverse research faculty committed to post-secondary engineering education. The challenges associated with this approach to outreach, the advantages of incorporating a STEM intervention into a technical research conference, and successful methods for locating a group of underserved students are discussed. In addition, the scale and impact of the intervention are evaluated through open-ended and quantitative surveys. The survey results document the positive student reaction to this intervention. The positive student feedback and logistics discussed in this paper demonstrate the feasibility of adoption of a similar outreach model at other technical conferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
StatePublished - Jun 26 2016
Event123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2016Jun 29 2016


Other123rd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
CountryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

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