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Attracting College and High School Students to Study Engineering Technology Engineering technology encompasses many engineering technology fields: mechanical engineering technology, electrical engineering technology, and computer engineering technology, etc. This poster presents the work on using hands-on mechatronics design activities to attract high school and college students to study engineering technology. Technology education has been a key in producing college graduates to work in today’s fast paced, highly competitive public and private enterprises. Unfortunately, the supply of qualified workforce has been reduced in the United States due to the steady drop of enrollment of college and high school students in STEM related fields for the past twenty years of which technology is an important component. To tackle the dwindling enrollment of STEM students and low quality of STEM graduates, the National Science Board submitted a report to Congress in 2007 suggesting all students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past with an increased emphasis on technology and engineering at all levels in the Nation’s education system. The Board gave two priority recommendations: (1) Ensure Coherence in Nation’s STEM Education System; (2) Ensure that Students Are Taught by Well-Prepared and Highly Effective STEM Teachers. This poster aims at addressing the two issues that many educational institutions are facing through the introduction of mechatronics technology into undergraduate students as well as to high school students. To change the landscape of technology education in the US, many things must be done. Hands-on engaging activities have been proven as important tools for attracting young people. In his keynote speech called “21st Century Skills - From Industry to Education and Back” at 2010 NSF ATE Principal Investigator Conference, Mr. Charles Fadel, Global Education Research Lead at Cisco Systems, presented a study which indicates that students learn well in teams, in project based activities, and in collaborative environments. The hands-on project based activities will also strengthen students’ skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity/innovation. These skills have been identified by top U.S. companies as priorities for employee development, talent management and succession planning. It is only natural for the technology education to incorporate hands-on practical applications at every stage of a student’s education. This connection should be made earlier during a student’s high school years and be reinforced every semester during student’s college years so as to allow the student to reach a level of maturity expected by companies for entry level or junior level positions. In August 2010, the college received a grant from National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education (ATE) division to establish a Mechatronics Technology Center (MTC) to introduce the mechatronics technology to college as well to high school students. Our ATE project focuses on Integrated STEM Education using mechatronics products as vehicles to build student interest and to emphasize the intrinsic relations among various STEM fields. Robotics competitions held regularly at different levels enabled students to immerse themselves in STEM and to build their STEM skills gradually. This helped create, sustain, and foster long lasting interest on STEM. College students served as mentors to help faculty members conduct the training in various engineering topics as well as in learning the 21st century skills.


Zhang, A. S., & Berri, S., & Heng, I. H., & Zia, F. (2013, June), Attracting College and High School Students to Study Engineering Technology through Hands-on Mechatronics Product Design Projects Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19246 © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education.



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