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Louisiana Tech University

Integrated STEM Education Research Center

Current Projects

Project: Cyber Discovery 1.0, 2.0
Principal Investigator:
Co-Principal Investigators:

Cyber Discovery 1.0, a professional development program for high school teachers, culminates in a week-long experience where student teams of rising sophomores participate in cyber-related challenges integrating disciplines such as engineering, computer science, English, history, mathematics, architecture, cryptography and political science challenges. Curricular threads include: history of cyberspace, ethical and social issues, citizenship, applications, and the need for and use of security in cyberspace.

The Cyber Discovery 2.0 program is a scenario-based approach to security issues incorporating hands-on engineering and computer science labs, a cryptographic component, and a challenge integrating the techniques learned through the program. Cyber Discovery 2.0 provides high school juniors with a broader exposure to liberal arts, mathematics, and science in the context of cyber-security.

Project: STEM-Discovery
Funding: NSF-TrackIII; 2014-2019; $749,000
Principal Investigator: Michael Khonsari
Co-Principal Investigators: Kelly Crittenden, Heath Tims, David Hall
Senior Personnel: Marisa Orr

STEM-Discovery, a new program led by Louisiana Tech University, aims to directly engage high school teachers and students across Louisiana and to spark their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The primary objective is to provide a foundation for research in effective teaching and learning through the creation of virtual modules centered on a project-driven STEM core. A major focus of the program will be to broaden the participation of underrepresented minority students. Over the next five years, the STEMDiscovery team will develop a sustainable, innovative and effective program to deliver STEM content that can be expanded and adopted throughout the State and the nation. The resulting program will equip high school teachers with the motivation and knowledge required to effectively incorporate STEM topics into their courses. To accomplish this, virtual teaching modules paired with STEM-Discovery camps and design competitions will be developed to facilitate the development of strong analytical skills, creativity and a “can-do” spirit in students.

Project: Technology-Rich Transportation Engineering Projects
Funding: SPTC; $131,627
Principal Investigator: Sanjay Tewari
Co-Principal Investigators: David Hall, Norman Pumphrey, Raghava Kommalapati
Senior Personnel: Marisa Orr

Project: OPES: Making the WeB Work
Funding: National Science Foundation DUE-1244833; 2013-2016; $250,000
Principal Investigator: Katie Evans

The purpose of OPES is to create an online library of engineering homework sets for integration into the existing WeBWorK open-source, digital homework system and determine the effect of online engineering homework on student learning. This project targets homework development for three core engineering courses – statics and strength of materials, circuits, and thermodynamics – that can be found in any engineering program across the country. Beyond homework implementation in existing courses, this project supports training and dissemination workshops to be held for engineering faculty from other universities and assessment of the impact of online homework in engineering.

Project: Creating a Culture of Success for Women in STEM
 National Science Foundation HRD-0930232; 2009-2015; $736,500
Principal Investigator:
 Jenna Carpenter
Co-Principal Investigators:
 Patrick O’Neal, Despina Davis

The ADVANCEing Faculty Program in the College of Engineering and Science (COES) at Louisiana Tech University strives to create a culture of success for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) through a college-wide, systemic, sustainable approach. This approach provides a framework and resources to educate and enable all faculty to participate in a supportive work environment that enhances job satisfaction, research productivity, and retention. The goals of the ADVANCEing Faculty Program are to: 1) strengthen the climate by reducing isolation of faculty, instituting faculty training and mentoring programs, and examining worklife policies; 2) increase retention of faculty through increased research successes, career networking, and exposure to role models; 3) enhance management training, as well as promotion and leadership opportunities, for faculty.

Project: Sophomore Fast-Forward: A Summer Bridge Program to Support Retention in Engineering
Funding: National Science Foundation DUE# 1564768, 2016-2021, $999,234
Principal Investigator: Katie Evans
Co-Principal Investigators: Marisa Orr, Mitzi Desselles, David Hall, and Heath Tims

The overall objective of this project to increase engineering retention, leading to an increase in the number of STEM graduates prepared to enter the workforce and be successful. The program offers scholarships for rising sophomores who demonstrate academic talent and financial need. Support includes attendance in a full-time summer session in which students will take some of the required engineering and mathematics courses normally taken during the Fall semester. This approach will provide a smoother transition into more difficult engineering coursework for this at-risk group. This program will include professional and student development activities, as well as mentoring from faculty. Scholarships and support for low-income and academically talented students, who may not otherwise be able to obtain engineering degrees, will help to produce a well-trained STEM workforce that will contribute to the economic well-being of the nation.

The project will investigate the hypothesis that encouraging talented but at-risk students to pursue statics during a full-time summer session will facilitate these at-risk students in overcoming this identified attrition point in the undergraduate engineering curriculum. Retaining more students in the critical sophomore transition will result in more STEM graduates. The cohorts of S-STEM Scholars will be mentored by a faculty team and participate in other support activities including industry field trips, professional development training and team-building activities. The findings from the program will be disseminated widely to the STEM education community and will help to increase understanding of the attributes and practices of successful student scholarship and support programs for academically talented, low-income engineering students.