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Universities across the country are investigating various ways to successfully recruit and retain minority students in an effort to train a more diverse pool of scholars prepared for careers in science and engineering. Furthermore, many engineering departments have committed themselves to developing educational programs that deepen students’ understanding of fundamental concepts, enhance students’ active participation in learning, and establish engineering’s role in meeting the needs of a global society. The U.S. Department of Education supports such worthy initiatives through the Minority Science and Engineering Program (MSEIP), advancing America’s capacity to build and create by strengthening education programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and by supporting a diverse pool of talent in the STEM fields.

In 2012, the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico at Bayamon was the recipient of the MSEIP award for the engineering project, “Increasing Retention and Graduation Rates of Hispanic Engineering Students by Active Learning Activities and Undergraduate Research Experiences”. This November, IAUPR engineering faculty members Eduardo Perez and Omar Castillo extended an invitation to Xraise to speak at the annual MSEIP faculty workshop to share their expertise in provoking interest and engagement in science and engineering. Professors Perez and Omar recognize that the key to retaining freshman in the IAUPR’s Mechanical Engineering program is to provide meaningful activities, demonstrations, and team projects that act as the “hook” to sustained interest and meaningful learning.

 Lora Hine leads discussion on Empowering Minds through Dynamic Design, Xraise's innovative approach to education.

Once on IAUPR’s Bayamon campus, Xraise met with mechanical engineering undergraduate students and high school seniors interested in pursuing STEM-related careers. Over 30 IAUPR faculty attended the presentation Empowering Minds through Dynamic Design, introducing Xraise’s innovative approach to education and highlighting specific programs that were the most relevant to retention in engineering at the university. Xraise has designed numerous pre-college learning activities based upon the groundswell of research in education and empirical evidence gathered through fieldwork espousing the benefits of both play and making. These engineering experiences are goal-driven, design-based, student-centered, hands-on, and collaborative in nature — emphasizing 21st Century skills needed in the workforce and mirrored in the activity of experts at the CHESS research facility. The IAUPR Bayamon workshop also provided faculty with an opportunity to participate in tabletop activities illustrating such physics concepts as rotational inertia, eccentric motion, and mechanical resonance, sparking creativity and lively discussion.

 Xraise Director Lora Hine, center, stands with members of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico at Bayamon during the Minority Science and Engineering Program faculty workshop.

 

 

Submitted by: Lora Hine, CHESS, Cornell University
12/10/2016