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Title: Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) High: Preliminary Findings Regarding Learning Outcomes for Underrepresented Students (Work in Progress, Diversity; Board 130)
Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) High utilizes human-centered design processes to teach high school students how to develop solutions to real-world problems within their communities. The goals of EPICS High are to utilize both principles from engineering and social entrepreneurship to engage high and middle school students as problem-solvers and spark interest in STEM careers. Recently, the Cisco corporate advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, granted Arizona State University funds to expand EPICS High to underrepresented students and study the student outcomes from participation in this innovative program. In this exploratory study we combined qualitative methods—in person observations and informal interviews—along with pre and post surveys with high school students, to answer the questions: What skills do students gain and how does their mindset about engineering entrepreneurship develop through participation in EPICS High? Research took place in Title I schools (meaning they have a high number of students from low-income families) as well as non-Title I schools. Our preliminary results show that students made gains in the following areas: their attitudes toward engineering; ability to improve upon existing ideas; incorporating stakeholders; overcoming obstacles; social responsibility; and appreciation of multiple perspectives when solving engineering problems. While males have better baseline scores for most measures, females tend to have the most growth in many of these areas. We conclude that these initial measures show positive outcomes for students participating in EPICS High, and provide questions for further research.  more » « less
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ASEE annual conference & exposition proceedings
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National Science Foundation
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  5. Abstract Background

    Determining the root causes of persistent underrepresentation of different subpopulations in engineering remains a continued challenge. Because place‐based variation of resource distribution is not random and because school and community contexts influence high school outcomes, considering variation across those contexts should be paramount in broadening participation research.


    This study takes a macroscopic systems view of engineering enrollments to understand variation across one state's public high school rates of engineering matriculation.


    This study uses a dataset from the Virginia Longitudinal Data System that includes all students who completed high school from a Virginia public school from 2007 to 2014 (N= 685,429). We explore geographic variation in four‐year undergraduate engineering enrollment as a function of gender, race/ethnicity, and economically disadvantaged status. Additionally, we investigate the relationship between characteristics of the high school and community contexts and undergraduate engineering enrollment across Virginia's high schools using regression analysis.


    Our findings illuminate inequality in enrollment in engineering programs at four‐year institutions across high schools by gender, race, and socioeconomic status (and the intersections among those demographics). Different high schools have different engineering enrollment rates among students who attend four‐year postsecondary institutions. We show strong associations between high schools' engineering enrollment rates and four‐year institution enrollment rates as well as moderate associations for high schools' community socioeconomic status.


    Strong systemic forces need to be overcome to broaden participation in engineering. We demonstrate the insights that state longitudinal data systems can illuminate in engineering education research.

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