Engineers of Tomorrow

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Brinkman, Jilliane
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Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.

Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.

The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.


To address the critical issues of U.S. competitiveness and to better prepare the workforce, A Framework for K-12 Science Education calls for new approaches to K-12 science education that will attract students' interest and provide them with the necessary foundational knowledge in scientific fields (Quinn, n.d.). Responding to this call, we report on an intervention we co-designed and implemented to develop interest in industrial engineering topics, particularly optimization among elementary school students. Our design follows arguments made in the K-12 literature regarding the benefits of introducing engineering concepts at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Our inductive insights suggest that anchor charts serve well as visual models illustrating the steps involved in solving a problem. Further, kindergarten school students who receive instruction in the use of anchor charts may be able to transfer their use to successfully solve arithmetic problems. Reflecting on guided conversations with elementary school teachers who continued to use anchor charts, we find that problem-solving skills taught through optimization strategies can be an effective teaching tool. Early exposure to engineering methods may enhance students’ problem solving skills and potentially increase students’ foundational skills in the science, engineering, and technology fields