The McCants Middle School Pre-engineering class is designed to teach engineering skills to students with a predisposition for and interest in math and science. This team’s initiative is to use Industrial Engineering tools to enhance the existing pre-engineering course curriculum. The purpose of this study is to make middle school students better aware of an engineer’s thought process as it pertains to effectively planning and working on projects, and to measure the impact of our influence. Through this study, we want to improve the overall quality of the student’s projects and ultimately increase the retention and quantity of students interested in the engineering field. The current curriculum is limited to very few engineering disciplines, and the team will broaden the students’ knowledge of more types of engineering and how the various disciplines interact in industry. Undergraduate Industrial Engineering students ranging from sophomores to seniors presented lessons to middle school students in pre-engineering on the topics of production planning, cost analyses, quality control, and logistics. In every lesson, a hands-on activity accompanied the presentation, and students were asked to complete the activity in small groups to solidify the concepts and promote networked learning.
Through observation and attitude surveys, the team discovered that interactive discussions and hands-on activities were far more conducive to understanding and concept retention than lectures. As the study progressed, more of the students participating in the class became further interested in the pre-engineering class. The students’ projects were of better quality, and the inclusion of solution brainstorming and project planning made the exercise of completing the project more valuable to the students. Quantitatively, the team was unable to prove that their influence had a statistically significant impact. However, the team’s observations show that the changes to the middle school pre-engineering class made the students more excited about and more aware of real-world engineering.
Grubb, M.; Berger, A.; Browning, D.; Mayorga, M.; and Mears, Laine, "WARNING! Engineers in Training: Introducing Middle School Students to Industrial Engineering, its Usefulness, and its Applications" (2009). Publications. 89.