Enrichment Experiences in Engineering (E3) for Teachers Summer Research Program: an NSF RET Site Conference Paper uri icon


  • For several years, the NSF-funded Enrichment Experiences in Engineering (E 3 ) program has developed partnerships with high schools across Texas, many of which are magnet programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects, and all have student bodies that are primarily from underrepresented minority groups (average 88%), low income (average 77%), and first generation to college. The goal "to involve teachers in engineering research" has been accomplished by satisfying 3 objectives linked to the intended outcomes and impacts. The objectives are: 1) Provide contemporary engineering research experiences and enhance understanding of the nature of engineering; 2) Scaffold teacher development of authentic inquiry activities for the high school classroom; and 3) Improve public school teachers' knowledge about careers in engineering. Assessment of the program is integrated into its structure providing regular feedback which is used to continuously improve the program experience and impact. It should be noted that this is not a research project, and as such, there are neither research questions nor a research design. However, the E3 program has goals and anticipated outcomes, and has used qualitative questions to measure these outcomes. The program has become more refined and impact is being felt through the state. Teachers are recruited from targeted schools, but the application is open to all teachers. Selection is rigorous and competition for available positions has intensified. Selected secondary (grade 8-12) science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers work in teams of 2 with engineering faculty in his/her laboratory during a 4-week summer residential experience. Working in groundbreaking research, the teachers have the opportunity to participate in experiments that they can integrate into their science/mathematics curriculum. Teacher teams apply in-depth education theory and learning experiences to better prepare them to transfer their research experiences into the classroom. Teachers engage in dialogues about contemporary engineering issues and visit industrial sites on field trips. The outcomes of the summer research experience demonstrate the effectiveness of this program. Teacher understanding of the nature of engineering has increased through immersion in authentic engineering research experiences. Having the teachers develop inquiry-based learning activities built on their research experiences and current educational research on inquiry, learning styles, and diversity has been successful. By highlighting career information in the learning activities designed by the participating teachers, their students' knowledge about engineering careers has improved. A representative classroom project developed by an E 3 participant focused on cell encapsulation for drug delivery. It was the culmination of a multi-week unit that covered scientific processes, graphing, data collection and analysis, living systems, chemistry and physics concepts. Each team was tasked to find a new way to encapsulate a drug. The students conducted experiments to create a feasible encapsulation with the correct properties. The encapsulation was to meet certain criteria depending on the classroom subject being taught. The expected outcome was that the students would understand the engineering process, and how applicable science and math knowledge is to this process. Using multiple performance metrics and evaluation techniques, the E 3 program has progressively developed into a program with demonstrated impact. With 86 teachers participating to date, a substantial workforce has been tapped for disseminating engineering principles and appreciation. Ties between the cohorts are fostered through an annual Teacher Summit sponsored by the Colleges of Engineering and Science, as well through annual E 3 workshops during the academic year. Industrial support has resulted in subsequent internship opportunities. Many of the faculty/teacher relationships continue after the summer experience. Texas A & M University (TAMU) is actively recruiting the students of these teachers into the engineering program. American Society for Engineering Education, 2009.

name of conference

  • 2008 IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting - Conversion and Delivery of Electrical Energy in the 21st Century

published proceedings

  • ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

author list (cited authors)

  • Butler-Purry, K.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Butler-Purry, Karen

publication date

  • July 2008