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Acting Like an Engineer in High School

  • Author(s): Barry, Katie
  • Advisor(s): Brenner, Mary Betsy
  • et al.

Engineering is a relevant tool to solve current challenges in a variety of fields. There is a demand for engineers in the workforce and a method to solve that demand is to introduce students to engineering prior to college coursework. One of the ways that students can engage with engineering earlier is through engineering design projects. This research takes place in a high school setting and engages freshmen in an engineering design project. Four groups of student participants were included in the research. The students conducted video recordings, which were analyzed to determine the abilities that students possessed in a design project. Students were given a modified engineering design cycle to provide structure and guidance for their work throughout the project. The engineering design cycle is a method used to solve problems. The final step of the project was for each group to create a video from their video recordings that explained their engineering design process.

Generally, students did not spend a lot of time in the understanding, brainstorming, or planning phases of the design cycle. However, they did spend a lot of time designing and improving their design. The communication that the students exhibited through their videos varied. Two of the groups had effective communication styles and were able to describe their process, while two of the groups were not effective communicators and did not correctly describe their process. The project offered a scholarly contribution to the field of engineering by highlighting engineering for high school students, promoting the use of the engineering design cycle, and demonstrated how students can act like an engineer given an engineering design project.

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