Developing STEM Identity in Rural Audiences through Community-based Engineering Design (DeSIRE)

DeSIREĀ is a partnership between the College of Engineering and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University (NCSU), the NC Mathematics and Science Education Network Pre-College Program (MSEN), the Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) district, and local advanced manufacturing industry. The Friday Institute (FI) is pleased to serve as the research partner for the DeSIRE project.

The goal of this four-year NSF-funded project is to create community-based engineering design experiences for underserved middle school students (grades 6-8) from rural NC aimed to improve their cognitive (STEM content knowledge and career awareness) and non-cognitive (interest, self-efficacy and STEM identity) outcomes, and ultimately lead to their increased participation in STEM fields, particularly engineering.

DeSIRE will accomplish the overarching project goal by: 1) developing a 3-part Engineering Design elective course for grade levels 6-8 in which rural middle school students engage in engineering design experiences closely tied to local advanced manufacturing technologies and practices, 2) incorporating a mentoring component whereby undergraduate engineering students from the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) at NC State and STEM professionals from industry serve as mentors to the middle school students during the course and 3) providing In-depth STEM Experiences where students engage in supplemental STEM enrichment activities outside of the classroom such as industry and university tours.