A team at Stony Brook University, led by the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), has developed a comprehensive program to work with school districts on Long Island to better prepare students for careers in engineering, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Grid, a corporate partner.
Research has shown that early exposure to science and engineering can significantly increase student awareness of engineering as a career pathway. The National Research Council’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aims to create a national foundation for all students to have a solid K-12 science education. But students need additional preparation and technical training to prepare for higher education and a career in engineering fields.
Building partnerships with K-12 educators offers Long Island students a foundation for post-secondary study in engineering, and fuels the workforce with well prepared for local industry and research. To address NGSS mandates, the Stony Brook team will align activities and workshops to be consistent with the American Society for Engineering Education’s objective that “all Americans will be able to apply concepts of science, technology, and mathematics to engineering processes and problems.”
“Today more than ever, we need to expose more students to the excitement and potential of STEM careers. Stony Brook is uniquely positioned to initiate outreach programs that leverage the scientific and engineering expertise of our award-winning faculty in educating pre-college students,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD.
“Through research-based programs like this, we look forward to enhanced collaboration with schools and districts to encourage students from all social and economic backgrounds to pursue degrees in the sciences. Together, I am confident we will succeed.”
The program, entitled Education, Guidance, Advancement, and Learning in Technology and Engineering (EGALITE), was designed to initiate partnerships and strategies to engage students, teachers, counselors, and faculty in the passion, challenge and opportunity of engineering. The project is based on a rigorous research plan focused on how pre-college and university students are attracted to and retained in engineering fields. Phase I – attraction – will concentrate on educating high school students, teachers and guidance counselors. Phase II – retention – will emphasize diversity by developing engineering teaching practices that encourage more women to pursue engineering as a course of study and career path.
Aligned with NGSS standards, workshops will be offered on and off campus during the academic year and summer and taught by Stony Brook faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. With students as the primary focus, programs will also be designed for teachers and science school coordinators to implement NGSS in science instruction. Engineering teaching labs will be subsidized for high needs schools and new WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) programs will be implemented to enhance diversity in engineering undergraduate enrollment – a critical factor in achieving equity in the profession. Special attention will be given to school guidance counselors, gatekeepers of information and influential advisors, so they can better lead students on post-secondary engineering study and careers.
“While our objective is to provide students and educators with the tools they need to be successful in the field, we also want students to see engineering as part of their everyday decision-making processes and understanding how things work in the world,” said Angela Kelly, associate director of the Science Education Program and Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy. “We can’t train every teacher on Long Island, but want to encourage them to become ambassadors within their districts and help professional learning communities to take root.”
Stony Brook launched EGALITE in January by hosting more than 75 administrators from 50 school districts in Suffolk and Nassau counties on campus to share information on the University’s engineering and science outreach programs. These programs include externally funded opportunities for teacher and school counselor professional development, and K-12 outreach activities at both on campus and within the school districts.
Committed to partnering with school districts in the region to promote STEM education, and well-positioned to share resources and expertise, Stony Brook University is already actively engaged in STEM outreach for K-12 students, teachers and counselors. For example:
- Last year, 4,000 Long Island students participated in Stony Brook STEM outreach programs.
- On average, Stony Brook certifies 50 science and mathematics teachers each year.
- Stony Brook is among the top three universities producing physics teachers in the United States, according to PhysTEC, a partnership between the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).
At Stony Brook, CEAS is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse pool of talent with in-depth programs and outreach initiatives that inspire students in science and engineering fields at a young, impressionable time in their educational development.
“Engineering is an exciting, innovation-based career path that can lead to economic and social mobility for students locally here on Long Island, across the country and around the world,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “From our perspective, interest is strong. We are encouraged not only by student growth but by the quality of students that join us, and offer programs and research opportunities to spark and retain their interest.”
For example, within CEAS:
- Undergraduate headcounts have increased by 119% since 2008 (graduate headcount increased by 57%).
- The average SAT scores of admitted students have increased more than 100 points in recent years, and high school GPAs have grown from 91% to 95%.
- Special platforms like the honors Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program promote and reward diversity.
- Investments in research and educational initiatives are reaching high-impact areas like energy, smart cities, cyber-security and engineering-driven medicine.
The global economy is increasingly reliant on engineering and technological advances to improve economic vitality. Through programs like EGALITE, Stony Brook is providing actionable steps toward the advancement of STEM throughout the academic pipeline.