RET Site: Enhancing Teacher Knowledge & Skills in Modern Manufacturing
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This new three-year Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site Program, Enhancing Teacher Knowledge and Skills in Modern Manufacturing, at Texas A&M University (TAMU) will enhance the knowledge and skill-level of a diverse cohort of middle and high school teachers with limited access to research opportunities, in both traditional and advanced manufacturing. Though Texas had a manufacturing output of $232.2B or 15.2% of the gross state product (in 2014), it had only 7.6% of its workforce in manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing development is facing a serious shortage of qualified personnel stemming from a lack of student interest. Many middle/high schools are limited in their growth of technology, robotics, or SkillsUSA programs due to budget constraints and/or lack of technical expertise among teachers. It is necessary to reverse this trend by providing infrastructure and manufacturing expertise to teachers, so that young students are inspired to join engineering and technology programs and choose STEM careers. This site is a direct response to such concerns, generating a motivated workforce well-rooted in manufacturing knowledge/skills, fuse research with education activities at the middle and high schools, motivate students for higher education, and build long-term collaborative partnerships in the region.Each summer, a group of 12 teachers (a total of 36 teachers over 3-years) will be hosted at TAMU for 6 weeks, where they will immerse in hands-on research experiences in both traditional and advanced manufacturing, specifically in the areas of (i) processes, (ii) materials, and (iii) metrology techniques. The on-site experience will be supplemented with integration and follow-up visits at their respective home institutions, as well as regular status updates. While at TAMU, these teachers will take part in capsulated technical sessions, complementary lab practice, field tours, research seminars, and guided research projects. Deliverables will include an implementation lesson and lab plan, as well as dissemination of the developed curriculum at annual teacher summits. The target school districts are near TAMU, focusing on those in rural areas, or those with a large number of under-represented students. This program is supported by local, state, and national-level industries and professional societies. The expected outcomes of this program will be the transfer of knowledge and skills to excite, empower, and educate students through new class/lab activities. This will enable and inspire students to effectively participate in science/engineering projects and pursue STEM/manufacturing careers.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.