CSULB Receives Grants For Programs That Encourage Young Girls to Consider The Field of Engineering

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The California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) College of Engineering recently received three grants for summer programs to encourage young girls to consider studying for the field of engineering.

All three multiple-day programs will be held in July and August and will include students, parents, and teachers visiting the Columbia Memorial Space Center to experience a simulation voyage to Mars.

Engineering Girls – It Takes a Village

As the newest of several CSULB women-in-engineering K-12 outreach programs, this program will serve the most under-resourced children in the Long Beach area. In this residential program, students will learn about all disciplines of engineering and also receive motivation through CSULB faculty and staff mentors to continue on a pathway toward college success. The intent of the program is to offer resources and connections for children to succeed, even when their home life may offer very little in the way of support.

“In serving on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, I had the opportunity last December to visit the Villages at Cabrillo, a homeless shelter in Long Beach. I was struck by the number of children, particularly those from single-parent and veteran families, and I was reminded that we don’t need to look far to find people in need of help,” said Lily Gossage, director of the College of Engineering Recruitment and Retention Center and principal investigator for the grant supporting the program. “This is a challenging population to work with simply because of its transitory nature, but we have to try . . . all of us together; so it really does take a village.”

The grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office through the Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathways Initiative was an $86,653 two-year award, of which $54,818 has been allocated for program.

About 40 Long Beach Unified School District girls in the fifth and sixth grade, who currently reside at the Villages at Cabrillo, which is transitional housing for homeless veterans, families, and youth, will be selected to stay in the CSULB dorms for one-week. They will be learning about engineering and success for college.

My Daughter is An Engineer

Now in its third year, this residential program continues to serve fifth-grade girls and their parents. Girls and parents will learn about electronics in everyday life and will work together alongside their own teachers to build and program a robot. They will compete against each other for prizes.

Thirty fifth-grade girls and their parents will participate.

It is being funded with a $12,500 grant from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Controls Systems Society.

The grant’s principal investigator is Bei Lu, a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and co-principal investigators are Gossage and Panadda Marayong, a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

“Our program also serves parents because it is really in the home where good habits, both academic and interpersonal, begin,” said Beu Lu. “Parents will be just as engaged. In the past, I observed many who were enthusiastically engaged in the program. They are the ones who see their children the most, so by supporting parents, we are supporting children.”

Support for NASA Content Dissemination for Two Summer Residential Programs for K-12 Educators

Teachers from elementary and middles schools will participate in both the “Engineering Girls – It Takes a Village” and the “My Daughter is an Engineer” programs. For both programs, they will reside alongside students to assist with program activities. However, teachers will receive additional information. They will be introduced to fundamental concepts in aerospace engineering, including those that correspond to NASA directorates. They will also explore various ways that NASA content can be incorporated into classroom lesson plans.

Gossage is the principal investigator and Eric Besnard, a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is the co-principal investigator. They received a $10,000 grant from the California Space Grant Consortium to support the program.

“Teachers, counselors and other school personnel serve as the gatekeepers to our children’s future career aspirations, so we must engage them as much as possible,” said Gossage. “The California Space Grant Consortium has been supporting our women-in-engineering outreach programs for the last two years, and we appreciate that they recognize the value of teacher professional development. They know that this type of activity directly enhances classroom teaching and learning.”

Such programs have been held for years on the campus.

“Research has shown us that we can help students help themselves with their academic success, but teaching parents to become fully engaged in their children’s educational pursuits is the greatest investment of effort that any outreach program can hope for. Obviously, having parents who support their children’s education makes the greatest difference. Social stigmas discourage girls from considering engineering even though they’re often well prepared, but we can show them that engineering is quite a lucrative and awesome career for women,” Gossage said.

“The idea of reaching out to students at the earliest age possible, before they are subjected to peer pressure in the later years, is also supported by research” she added. “Another factor is the way math is taught in many schools. We can help young girls overcome the negative mindset about math by showing them the practical uses of math.”

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