Collaborative Research: Connected STEM Promoting STEM Education through Connected Devices and Building Automation
Building automation is a topic that incorporates issues associated with global warming, renewable energy, green resources, and energy efficiency. It touches most people’s lives, and makes an easy-to-understand and inexpensive environment for exploring STEM concepts. Through commercial-off-the-shelf sensors, low-cost custom solutions, and already available computers and wireless data infrastructures (i.e., 802.11) available in schools, a building automation lab can be created at relatively low costs. Specifically, this project will use connected devices (known as the internet of things) and additive manufacturing (3D printing) to create these building automation labs.
This ITEST Strategies project will use the combination of teacher training, community outreach, industry support, and community college partnership to promote STEM careers among junior high school and high school students. The project plan consists of three main activities: 1) the incorporation of authentic design activities related to building automation and supported by bringing industry professionals into junior high and high school classes; 2) the creation of summer programs for junior high school students to create connected devices; and 3) the creation of a dual credit course to be offered in high schools for community college credit using examples from building automation.
This project will systematically evaluate the effect of authentic experiential learning activities related to engineering design on students’ interests, skills, knowledge, and career aspirations. This work will also examine the effectiveness of a teacher professional development program in preparing teachers to implement authentic engineering design activities. By utilizing both university faculty and industry representatives as collaborators, the work will examine the role these other professionals play in helping teachers overcome any doubts or apprehension they have in engineering design instruction. This work will also analyze the role of dual credit course participation on career aspirations and matriculation to institutions of higher education. The inclusion of building automation applications will expose students to a large and growing industry.