1. Joanna Garner
  2. Executive Director
  3. The Engineering Ambassadors Network
  4. http://www.engineeringambassadors.com/
  5. Old Dominion University
  1. Michael Alley
  2. The Engineering Ambassadors Network
  3. http://www.engineeringambassadors.com/
  4. Pennsylvania State University
  1. Lori Miraldi
  2. Director of the Engineering Ambassadors Program and Student Engagement Initiatives
  3. The Engineering Ambassadors Network
  4. http://www.engineeringambassadors.com/
  5. Pennsylvania State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Michael Alley

    Michael Alley

    Researcher
    May 14, 2018 | 02:44 a.m.

    Thank you for viewing our film. The Engineering Ambassadors Network not only communicates messages of NAE's Changing the Conversation to more than 40,000 K-12 students each year, but helps the more than 500 participating Engineering Ambassadors grow as professionals. In particular, the Ambassadors learn cutting-edge techniques for presenting engineering to a wide range of audiences and then give those presentations in K-12 classrooms across the U.S.

     
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    Joanna Garner
  • Icon for: Joanna Garner

    Joanna Garner

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 09:41 a.m.

    Welcome to our presentation! We hope that you will join the conversation. We are especially interested in hearing from current and former EAs, and our amazing alumni! We would love to hear how being an EA has impacted you. We would also welcome hearing from teachers or students who have had a visit from Engineering Ambassadors. What did you learn about? How did it impact you?

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 01:30 p.m.

    Thank you for very clearly laying out the problem with your video! For those who may be thinking about having their institutions participate, could you please provide additional information about:

    - What the EAs actually do when they engage with younger students?

    - Where do these interactions take place? In schools? Informal learning environments?

    - What kind of background do the EAs have? For example, are they upper-level engineering students? Or do first year engineering students also participate?

    - What kinds of commitment (e.g., financial, space, commitment of faculty sponsors, etc.) are required for engineering programs to join the EA movement?

    -To date, what kinds of evidence has the EA program collected to examine the benefits to students (both EAs and the younger students with whom the work) as well as program evaluation data?

    Thank you again for making this community better aware of this initiative!

     
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    Lori Miraldi
  • Icon for: Lori Miraldi

    Lori Miraldi

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:31 p.m.

    Hi Jay, Thank you for the questions!

    What the EAs actually do when they engage with younger students?

    • Each EA program has the freedom to adapt their program depending on their resources and the population they are serving. However, generally, the EAs give a short presentation on an engineering topic that is delivered in an engaging way. The engineering concepts are related to familiar topics like roller coasters or airplanes. In additions, the presentations use a very effective style of presenting called the Assertion-Evidence Approach (to learn more go to: assertion-evidence.com). After the presentation, the students facilitate a hands-on activity with the students that further engage them in the engineering concepts discussed in the presentation. This re-inforces the concepts and gives the students a chance to interact one-on-one with the EAs. Many of the programs also give some sort of a "Careers Presentation." This presentation gives an overview of the many different career opportunities with the field of engineering.

    Where do these interactions take place? In schools? Informal learning environments?

    • Many of the interactions happen in K-12 classrooms. We also do expo-style events that may happen at schools, community events, or on campuses. Other programs reach their program through unique ways like having a mobile classroom that they bring to the a K-12 schools. 

    What kind of background do the EAs have? For example, are they upper-level engineering students? Or do first year engineering students also participate?

    • The EAs are typically in their sophomore through senior years. Some students may apply and be accepted in their freshman year; However, training typically happens toward the end of the spring semester or beginning of the fall semester. Therefore, they typically don't become active EAs until their sophomore year at the earliest. 

    What kinds of commitment (e.g., financial, space, commitment of faculty sponsors, etc.) are required for engineering programs to join the EA movement?

    • We have programs of all shapes and sizes! Some of flagship programs are quite large and require more time from a faculty advisor. Other programs have a small and strong group. The inaugural program at Penn State started with two students and now, nine years later, has 81 students! I would say that it's necessary to have an advisor to keep the program moving effectively. For many programs, this is one of many responsibilities that the advisor has. Programs can be done on a budget, traveling locally, and using inexpensive supplies. Programs can also engage in more extensive travel or more pricey activities if funds permit. Overall, Programs can be adapted to what's feasible at each university. The common thread is that we provide common training to EA Network Programs and we all have a common goal of changing the conversation around the field of engineering. 

    To date, what kinds of evidence has the EA program collected to examine the benefits to students (both EAs and the younger students with whom the work) as well as program evaluation data?

    • I'll let Joanna and Michael jump in on this question. They have most involved with the evaluation of the programs.

    Thank you for this opportunity to showcase this program that we love so much!

  • Icon for: Joanna Garner

    Joanna Garner

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 05:20 a.m.

    Hi Jay,

    Thank you for visiting our presentation. To address your question about evidence of having an impact, we have found that individual chapters across the country have conducted their own data collection efforts and have found evidence that K-12 students increase their understanding of engineering and the work of engineers. Representatives from the University of Nebraska Engineering Ambassadors will be presenting such work at ASEE.

    At the network level, our program evaluation data has been focused on assessing the impact of participation on the undergraduate ambassadors themselves. To do so, we have used interview and survey methods. Some highlights from this work are that:

    (1) the EA training, which includes specific training in the Assertion Evidence presentation style, increases students' confidence to present technical information and allows them to feel well prepared to give outreach talks into which the NAE Changing the Conversation messages are embedded;
    (2) participating as an EA facilitates the formulation of a mature professional identity as an engineer and as a presenter, which seems to promote confidence to persist in their degree program and provide a mechanism for integrating personal and career goals;
    (3) many of the students who participate as an EA report having strong, socially minded career goals as a reason for entering engineering as a field. Not only do they aspire to careers in which they can use engineering to make a difference in the world, but they embrace the Changing the Conversation messages and are highly motivated to reach out to the next generation of students with these messages;
    (4) the EA program provides networking and social support for undergraduate engineering students, particularly those from historically underrepresented groups;
    (5) many of the EAs we have interviewed report that they have gained valuable skills that will serve them in their careers.

    I hope that this is helpful!

  • Icon for: Jay Labov

    Jay Labov

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 11:04 a.m.

    Lori and Joanna,

    Thank you very much for these very detailed responses. I found them very helpful and think that the level of detail provided here will help many other viewers of your video realize that it will be possible for them and the organizations with which they're associated to become involved. This looks like a really terrific program!

    Jay

  • Small default profile

    Karen Drevo

    K-12 Teacher
    May 14, 2018 | 02:29 p.m.

    We LOVE having the Engineering Ambassadors come to our classrooms! It's true that students don't know what engineering is, and how important it is for our society in so many ways.  The students love the activities, and as I teacher, I always learn something too.  It's a fantastic program.  Thank you!!

     
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    Joanna Garner
    Lori Miraldi
  • Icon for: Lori Miraldi

    Lori Miraldi

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:49 p.m.

    Hi Karen! I'm so glad that you have had a positive experience with the Engineering Ambassadors. The EAs get as much out of the interactions in the classroom as the students do. They love sharing their passion for engineering and helping impact these young lives re-invigorates their studies. Thank you for supporting our program!

  • Small default profile

    Matt Krott

    Graduate Student
    May 14, 2018 | 10:40 p.m.

    As someone who was an Engineering Ambassador for 3 years at Penn State, I found the experience to be extremely impactful and rewarding. Even today, I still use many of the lessons about developing strong presentations and communicating ideas to general audiences. These Ambassadors are doing important work to create a more diverse group of future engineers!

     
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    Joanna Garner
    Danielle Watt
    Lori Miraldi
  • Icon for: Joanna Garner

    Joanna Garner

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 05:22 a.m.

    Matt, thank you for your comment!

  • Icon for: Michael Briscoe

    Michael Briscoe

    Researcher
    May 15, 2018 | 07:11 a.m.

     What an interesting idea! I am interested in using this with our professional society, the American Society of Naval Engineers. We have college-aged students giving presentations at most of our events, so I am looking for some materials that I can use to help them share their passion to the K-12 audience.

    I am on your Resources page, and was hoping you could direct me to the resources that help EAs most quickly understand how to answer this burning question. Do the examples work best? Or, do you have resources that help them organize their ideas?

    Also, if you are interested in connecting with our student chapters, you can email me any time.

  • Icon for: Lori Miraldi

    Lori Miraldi

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 12:24 a.m.

    Hi Michael. I have found that the EAs connect best with the K-12 students when they talk about their own passions and experiences. As they share their journey in engineering, what inspires them to study engineering, and what they hope to do with their degrees, the young students become engaged and interested.

    We do a "Careers Presentation" in many K-12 schools. This presentations gives an overview of all the different disciplines within engineering along with examples of those disciplines do in the workplace. We try to pick examples that will peak their interest. For example, a popular one is pointing out that industrial engineers helped to design the FastPass system at Disney World! 

    We also try to point out what types of engineers are involved in the concepts that are using in the Outreach Presentations. For example, if they are talking about Roller Coasters, the EAs will point out that mechanical engineers tend to focus on the moving parts of the coaster, civil engineers can contribute to the supporting structure of the coaster, computer scientist work with the controls that ensure the cars are spaced out on the track safely, etc.

    By exposing the students to the variety of career paths and jobs that engineers can do and giving them concrete examples of what engineers can do, young students are better able to imagine themselves in these roles. Our goal is to open their minds to reality that engineers impact the world around them in rich and exciting ways. We want to help these students potentially see themselves in these roles.

    We do help them craft these messages. We give the EA communication training to be able to craft and organize an effective presentation. The modules on our resources page give a glimpse into this training: http://www.engineeringambassadors.com/resources...

    In addition, we rely heavily on the Assertion-Evidence Approach to presentations: https://www.assertion-evidence.com 

    This approach to presentations is effective at enhancing audience understanding and retention of information. In addition to benefitting the audience, the A-E approach enhances the focus and delivery of a presentation. 

    Let me know if I answered your questions or if I can provide additional information. 

  • Icon for: Danielle Watt

    Danielle Watt

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 03:25 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your project and informing the community about this field! I also have a question regarding the impact on the participants (students and EAs) after the program so I will wait for the additional post but nice feedback from Matt, former EA.

  • Icon for: Joanna Garner

    Joanna Garner

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 06:39 a.m.

    Hi Danielle,

    I posted a brief overview of some findings in the thread above. Please let me know if you have difficulty locating the post.

    Joanna

  • Icon for: Whitney Erby

    Whitney Erby

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:41 p.m.

    Great project! I am wondering how the EAs are recruited and how do you keep them engaged? The video says that you are changing the conversation around stereotypes. How do you train students to effectively discuss stereotypes and how do you help them facilitate a different conversation around them? 

  • Icon for: Lori Miraldi

    Lori Miraldi

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:58 p.m.

    Hi Whitney, thank you for your questions! The recruitment and engagement varies across universities. I can speak to Penn State's program. We recruit through word-of-mouth, social media, campus advertising, and through short promo presentations in certain classes (e.g., first-year seminar, engineering design, technical speaking). Students fill out an online application that includes an prompt for a short essay. From that pool, we choose a group to interview in-person. Our in-person interviews are 15 minutes. We then choose our new cohort based on their application and interview. Although I have the final say, I do involve my EAs through that entire process. 

    I set an expectation of engagement from the start. I give them a realistic estimate of the hours they should expect to commit each semester. I ask them to consider their other commitments and be realistic about what they can do before accepting membership. Although this is not the case at all programs, the Penn State EAs receive a financial award for active participation. That being said, the vast majority of them simply love to do the work involved and would do it without financial compensation. This quickly becomes one of their favorite groups to be a part of. In addition, we offer a variety of professional development opportunities through the program. These opportunities often help them prepare for the workforce and network with companies.

    In terms of stereotypes, the first EA program was developed with the goal of increasing the number of women in Mechanical Engineering. This focus on women has remained strong. In many of our EA programs, women are disproportionately represented compared to the numbers of women in engineering (Penn State's EA program is 68% women). This is intentional. We want girls in K-12 classrooms to see themselves in these EA women and entertain the idea that engineering might be a good path for them. Some programs focus more heavily on educational equity across other under-represented groups. Tufts University is a great example of this. They have a strong mission to bring more and more young students of color into the STEM fields. It's important for the EAs increase their own awareness and understanding of these issues so they can more effectively empathize and reach young students who may be impacted by educational inequity. This is an opportunity for growth in my program, I am looking to experts on my campus to help facilitate these conversations with my EAs in the coming year. 

  • Icon for: Debora Liberi

    Debora Liberi

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 15, 2018 | 11:07 p.m.

    Thank you Joanna and Lori. I really like the concept of Engineering Ambassadors.  It addresses a real need in an interactive way.  How is this funded?

  • Icon for: Lori Miraldi

    Lori Miraldi

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 12:01 a.m.

    Hi Debora, thank you for your question. The EA programs vary greatly in size and structure. Some programs have funding through their college or department. Other programs are funded through corporate sponsorships. Some are a combination of the two. Our program at Penn State started with some initial funding from the college and then developed enough corporate sponsorship funds over the years to be self-sustaining.

  • Icon for: Joanna Garner

    Joanna Garner

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 05:26 a.m.

    Debora,

    Thank you for your question. As Lori stated, programs have various sources of funding and sponsorship. I will just add that we were very fortunate to receive funding through NSF to be able to provide training events for ambassadors at multiple sites across the country. This allowed new EA chapters to form and strengthened the cohorts within existing programs. In many cases, these conferences brought multiple schools together, which provided valuable networking and sharing opportunities across programs. 

  • Icon for: Abigail Haworth

    Abigail Haworth

    Undergraduate Student
    May 17, 2018 | 11:19 p.m.

    I am an undergraduate Biological Systems Engineering student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and I am so excited to be a part of this organization next year! Going through training I was extremely impressed by the effective presentation style and engaging themes the Ambassadors use. The message that Ambassadors have to share can really make a difference for the young people of today.

  • Icon for: Lori Miraldi

    Lori Miraldi

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 10:25 a.m.

    Hi Abigail! We're so thrilled to have you as a new EA! The University of Nebraska has such a wonderful EA program and I know the veteran EAs in your program will be great mentors. In addition to Joanna's question below about what topics are messages are most engaging to students, what attracted you to join this group? What do you hope to gain by being part of the EA program? 

  • Icon for: Joanna Garner

    Joanna Garner

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 08:03 a.m.

    Hi Abigail, 

    Thank you for your post! I am so pleased to welcome you as an Engineering Ambassador! I'm glad you found the training to be helpful. I am curious as to the topics or messages that you think will be most engaging to young students?

  • Small default profile

    Emma Brimdyr

    Undergraduate Student
    May 18, 2018 | 10:36 a.m.

    I'm a undergraduate studying Mechanical Engineering and Society, Technology and Policy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and I have been a part of this or organization for 2 years! It's one of my favorite school activities because I get to engage with the younger generation. We mostly do outreach to students in 4th-8th grade, and it's really great watching the kids come alive during the activities. While in the beginning they can be hesitant to try something new, by the end they are passionately sharing ideas and trying new things and become absorbed with the activity challenge. My favorite is watching teachers become engaged as well, and asking to try out the challenge and then competing with the kids (often times the kids end up winning!). The students often ask a lot of follow up engineering questions to our presentation, and sometimes ask about different majors they could possibly go into,and this is another one of my favorite parts since I know I wouldn't have gone into engineering if someone hadn't convinced me that engineering was more than just building things mechanically. I think that is one of the best parts about this organization, is that it helps spread the word that engineering is more than we originally think it is. Many of the student's have either gone through the program the year before, or other students at their school have gone through the program before, so gossip often goes around how coming to an EA presentation is one of the best days of the year.

  • Icon for: Lori Miraldi

    Lori Miraldi

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 10:47 a.m.

    Hi Emma! Thank you for sharing your experiences as an EA! It is so rewarding to see the kids engaged in these activities. In addition, I know from seeing my own EAs in action that one of the most impactful experiences for the K-12 students and getting to interact with you and your fellow EAs. By having the opportunity to interact with you one-on-one, their understanding of what an engineering is expands and they can often see themselves in that role. Thank you for the time, effort, and passion you have put into your EA program. You are changing young lives!

  • Icon for: Joanna Garner

    Joanna Garner

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 05:49 p.m.

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for visiting our page, joining the conversation, and reading and adding to our discussion thread. If you would like more information about the Engineering Ambassadors Network, please visit www.engineeringambassadors.com. There you will find links to training and other resources, as well as a list of our current member institutions. Feel free to contact any of us listed here to learn more!

    Joanna

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.