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Thoughts from ASEE: Engineering Ambassadors

While presenting research at the American Society for Engineering Education (PPT here), I met some fascinating people engaging in some high-quality work. These “Thoughts from ASEE” posts highlight that work.

At Manhattan College, engineering or education undgrads can become Engineering Ambassadors. Sr. Mary Ann Jacobs and Dr. Zahra Shahbazi described how their undergrads support students in grades 6 through 12 explore engineering. They use engineering workshops and hands-on experiences so students were directly engaging in scaffolded problem-based activities. They found that 85% of students strongly agreed or agreed that the workshops helped them understand the work of engineers.

The Engineering Ambassador Network described this teaching as Right Messenger and Right Message, and we could not agree more. Students learn a lot from their peers and their near peers (students slightly older). Utilizing this fundamental connection to facilitate STEM growth seems like a win-win proposition.

They found that 78% of students felt they better understood how to “think like an engineer” after completing these activities. We saw similar gains with the FLEET engineering simulator (82% were more interested in pursuing a STEM career). Connecting students to engineering through hands-on challenges and near peer relationships is definitely a recipe for growing the STEM pipeline for years to come.

You can read their paper and see related work from their session at: