$561,793 National Science Foundation grant supports science and engineering education

Kumar YelamarthiKumar Yelamarthi, associate professor of engineering in Central Michigan University's College of Science and Technology, has been awarded a $561,793 grant from the National Science Foundation along with Janis Voege, director of the Central Michigan​ Science/Mathematics/Technology Center.  Led by Yelamarthi, the NSF grant will help establish a strong science and engineering learning partnership between Central Michigan University and other educational entities in rural Michigan, and support them as they raise the STEM knowledge base of their students, increasing their opportunities for employment and for becoming entrepreneurs.

Over the three-year grant period, CMU engineering faculty will mentor in-service secondary school teachers, community college faculty, and pre-service teachers from CMU's science education program, with a focus on those serving groups that are underrepresented in science and engineering.

"Engaging pre-service teachers in cutting-edge research ensures that they begin their careers well-equipped with research experience and confidence to take into their classrooms," Yelamarthi said.  "Similarly, pre-service teachers with nurtured next generation science standards (NGSS) based curriculum design and implementation expertise will take on leadership roles in their employing schools, thereby multiplying the effect of this project."

Program participants will begin by engaging in cutting-edge research on Smart Vehicles, under the guidance of a CMU engineering faculty mentor who leads an active research program.

Researching Smart Vehicles will allow the participants to be "exposed to leading research spanning mobile robotics, kinematics and kinetics, vehicle manufacturing robots, vehicular sensor networks, ergonomics, material science, and circuit design," Yelamarthi said.  "The multidisciplinary nature of Smart Vehicles will provide a coherent ground for developing creative course modules in physics, chemistry, engineering, and technology that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Criteria for STEM curriculum."

Ongoing activities throughout the academic year will include on-site instructional coaching, team meetings, engineering faculty involvement in secondary school and community college classrooms, and cross classroom collaborations to ensure the proper translation of research experience into practice.

Participants will work cooperatively with CMU engineering faculty mentors, curriculum development specialists, instructional coaches from CMU's Science/Mathematics/Technology Center, and staff from CMU's Center for Teaching and Learning to create new instructional material on engineering principles for middle and high school students, create improved instructional resources for community college faculty, develop a national model for replication at other institutions, and generate technological advancements in the broader area of Smart Vehicles.

The goal, upon completion of the program, is to provide participants with the necessary technical and pedagogical resources to be able to influence the learning and career paths of young students in rural Michigan who have traditionally been underrepresented in STEM education and employment, with the knowledge, skills, abilities and attitudes that are in high demand.