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  1. This Work in Progress (WIP) paper describes the development of a middle school program focused on an integrated STEM architectural engineering design project and exploration of career pathways. The current engineering workforce is increasingly aging, needing new engineering graduates to meet the industry demands. It is crucial to create inclusive educational programs in STEM to expose and connect with youths from diverse backgrounds, especially the demographics that are underrepresented, in STEM career paths. Middle school is a pivotal time for generating students’ awareness of and promoting pathways into STEM careers; however, opportunities to engage in engineering are often lacking or nonexistent, particularly for low-income students. Additionally, low-income students may bring particular experiences and skills from their backgrounds to engineering that may increase the innovation of engineering solutions. These assets are important to recognize and cultivate in young students. The Middle School Architectural Engineering Pilot Program (MSAEPP), drawing from social cognitive career theory and identity-based motivation, is an intervention designed to affect STEM related content and STEM identities, motivation, and career goals for low-income students using relatable topics within the building industry. The focus on architectural engineering activities is because buildings, and the industry they represent, touch everyone’s lives. The MSAEPPmore »is planned to be implemented through the Talent Search Programs at middle schools in Pennsylvania. The Talent Search Program is one of the Federal TRIO Programs dedicated to assisting high school students in furthering their education. Penn State Talent Search Programs serve 22 schools in 8 impoverished school districts. The pilot program engages middle school students (seventh and eighth grade) in architectural engineering related lessons and activities, by exploring engineering identities interactions with architectural engineering industry professionals, and by planning potential career pathways in architectural engineering and other STEM careers with Talent Search Counselors. The purpose of this paper is to present the background and process used in this funded NSF project for developing the suite of architectural engineering related lessons and activities and the research plan for answering the research question: How does the combination of meaningful engineering learning, exposure to professional engineers, and career planning, focused on building industry engineering applications, increase identity-based motivation of students from low-income households and marginalized students in pursuing STEM careers? Answering this question will inform future work developing interventions that target similar goals and will validate and expand the identity-based motivation framework. Keywords: middle school, identity, motivation, informal education.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023