This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.0963146. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Summer Development Conference – Integration of STEM Research and Education Track:
In Spring 2011 there was a new track in the collection of tracks that FCTL (Faculty Center of Teaching and Learning) solicited faculty participation for. This track, called STEM Research and Education track, had as its objective to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research findings into course content and learning applications. This track was sponsored by the ICubed project. A number of STEM faculty and Visual Arts faculty participated in this track. This track was led by Debbie Reinhart one of the ICubed project co-PIs. The track opened with a presentation by Dr. Reinhart who talked about the ICubed STEAM activities that result in the creation of STEM inspired artifacts. Other presenters included (a) Dr. Efthimiou from Physics who presented the results of a successful experiment of incorporating Hollywood movies in a physics class with the intent of encouraging students to learn the physics material better (b) Dr. Linda Walters a biologists who presented her experiences in incorporating a service learning component in biology classes and other instructors’ experience incorporating service learning in chemistry courses, and (c) Ms. Smith from the Institute of Simulation and Training, one of the UCF institutes, whose presentation described a successful ISE (informal science education) project from NSF and provided pointers of what is needed for a successful NSF ISE proposal. A good part of this conference workshop was dedicated to encourage the continued collaboration of STEM and Visual Arts faculty for incorporation of STEM content into Visual Arts and Design courses, and to investigate opportunities for new collaborations of faculty.×
Engaging STEM is a campus-wide initiative funded by Florida Campus Compact and managed by the UCF Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning and Office of Experiential Education. It is designed to support and encourage faculty members in the STEM disciplines to incorporate service-learning and other community-based activities into their courses. The goals are to improve UCF student learning through this pedagogical approach as well as to have a positive impact in the community. The initiative supported a successful day institute in the fall of 2010 and continues to fund relevant faculty development activities.×
Seven NSF CAREER Awardees were invited to participate in a panel discussion on February 22nd, 2011, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. The CAREER awardees came from a variety of disciplines, such as: Computer Science (Joe LaViola, Gita Sukthankar), Computer Engineering (Jun Wang), Physics (Enrique Del Barco), Chemistry (Steven Kuebler), Nano-Science (Saiful Khondaker), and Education (Bobbie Jeanpierre). Assistant professors from UCF were invited to participate in this panel discussion (potential future CAREER proposers); more than 50 assistant professors participated. The panel discussion had a moderator (Vaidy Vaidyanathan from the Office of Research and Commercialization) who has extensive experience in guiding faculty members from UCF to write competitive CAREER proposals. The meeting started with an opening statement from the chair of the STEMREC council (Michael Georgiopoulos) who explained the purpose of the meeting and emphasized the structure of the panel discussion. The moderator asked the panel questions, from a list of scripted questions, prepared in coordination with the panelists and an NSF CAREER Program Manager (Julio E. Lopez-Ferrao). Each scripted question was answered by a panelist (lead) and then additional answers were provided by other panelists (follow-up). After the lead and follow-up answers from the panelists were provided, the audience had an opportunity to answer one or two questions related to the scripted question answered. The time allotted for this panel discussion allowed the moderator to ask ten distinct questions. The panel discussion ended by a closing statement from the moderator, who encouraged all the attendees to get in touch with the panelists for additional clarifications and person-to-person discussions of how to write a successful CAREER proposal (all the attendees were provided information about each and every panelist and their contact information). At the end of the panel discussion all the participants (audience) were asked to evaluate the panel discussion from the perspective of content, organization, and value. The results of this assessment are included in the ICubed annual report (2011-2012 report). This event was video-taped by UCF TV. The video is available at the UCF ORC (Office of Research and Commercialization).×
For the past six years, the University of Central Florida via its College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) has hosted the Florida Engineering Education Conference (FEEC). The lead organizer of this conference is Mr. Bruce Furino, one of the ICubed Co-PIs. This event is one of the only “engineering education” conferences of its kind in Florida. Working with the conference partners, the goals continue to be to highlight the importance of pre-college engineering education in Florida, to showcase successful formal and informal pre-college engineering education programs and share the information with STEM educators and administrators. The conference also provides a venue for the conference partners (comprised of industry, government and professional organizations) to present and showcase what they are doing in field of engineering. This enables to link relevance to formal and informal STEM curricula.
2011 FEEC: The breakout of the 120 persons who attended the 2011 FEEC is shown below. 47% K-12 STEM teacher, 17% K- 12 other subject teacher , 19% K-12 administrator/coordinator, 5% Informal science educator, 2% Higher education faculty/administrator, 5% practicing engineer, 5% Workforce organization representative. The conference had as a theme space education and research. A number of distinguished individuals from the industry and the government participated in a panel discussion that talked about the importance of space education and research. Furthermore, a number of K-12 educators emphasized initiatives at their schools that educated their students about space education and research. After lunch, the participants were broken down in breakout sessions to talk about topics of common interest. Based on those who responded to the evaluation (58% of the attendees): 100% believed the Florida Engineering Education Conference contributes to STEM and in particular, engineering education in Florida. Additionally, of those who responded (Very good and Good) to the survey: 92% believed the FEEC showcased what is happening in engineering education; 91% felt the FEEC provided useful engineering information to their organization; 81% indicated it enabled them to make important contacts; and 88% reported it aided them in terms of their job responsibilities.
The University of Central Florida’s Synthetic Reality Laboratory (SREAL), New York Hall of Science (NYHS) and Queens Museum of Art (QMA) are developing Interconnections: Revisiting the Future – an immersive online 3D experience set in the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair (NYWF). Virtual Fairgoers are transported to an accurately modeled venue where they can freely explore more than 140 pavilions. Interconnections weaves together individual threads of singular disciplines found within the Fair into a multidisciplinary tapestry of exploration. Throughout the environment Discovery Points afford opportunities for in-depth interaction with STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) topics while empowering visitors to explore the broader consequences of technological innovations. Key objectives involve instilling enthusiasm in the target audience, age 9-13 adolescents, to nurture their creativity and encourage them to pursue their own parallel and divergent lines of research. The centerpiece of user-generated content for our project is FutureFair, an area where users can let their minds create a vision of the future based on STEM knowledge acquired within the larger NYWF environment.×
The University of Central Florida’s Synthetic Reality Laboratory (SREAL) is developing virtual experiences based on digital puppetry. Here, digital puppetry refers to the interactive control of virtual characters, an approach that can make simulations come to life with animated behaviors that compete with those of live humans. The process involves capturing the actions and explicit intents of an actor and imposing these on a digitally animated character. The technology and art of digital puppetry underlie SREAL’s efforts in training teachers and first responders; helping middle school-aged children deal with peer pressure; bootstrapping the social interactions of those with autism spectrum disorders; assessing and rehabilitating cognitive disabilities; and supporting remote docents in physical and virtual free-choice learning venues. The work with teacher training is in support of Lisa Dieker’s TeachME project, providing the technology underlying that effort. The work on resist/avoid strategies for middle school children is in collaboration with Anne Norris of the College of Nursing.×
Michael Georgiopoulos, ICubed Co-PI, coordinated with Laurianne Torres, Director of the ORC Proposal Development Team at UCF, to offer a series of NSF sponsored TUES/CAREER proposal webinars to the UCF community.
TUES supports Type 1 proposals (2-3 year awards of up to $250,000), Type 2 proposals (2-4 years in duration of up to $600,000) and Type 3 proposals (3-5 years awards of up to $5,000,000). The deadline for Type 2 or 3 proposals is January 13, 2012, while the deadline for Type 1 proposals is May 28, 2012. This solicitation especially encourages projects that have the potential to transform undergraduate STEM education, for example, by bringing about widespread adoption of classroom practices that embody understanding of how students learn most effectively. Thus transferability and dissemination are critical aspects for projects developing instructional materials and methods and should be considered throughout the project's lifetime. More advanced projects should involve efforts to facilitate adaptation at other sites.
Each webinar in the series is designed to give a competitive edge in writing proposals for educational research and development projects such as those supported by NSF’s TUES (formerly CCLI) or for research projects with significant educational components (e.g., BRIGE and CAREER). Each session will be followed by a Q&A session and the opportunity for further discussion and interaction with potential collaborators.
The TUES webinars that ICubed and ORC supported were as follows:
DUE Funding Decision Processes at NSF (FDP) Workshop
F112 FDP Thursday October 20, 2011 1:00 pm EDT
Proposal Writing Strategies & Reviewer Feedback Workshop
F113 PWS Tuesday October 25, 2011 1:00 pm EDT
Project Evaluation (PE) Workshop
F115 PE Tuesday November 1, 2011 1:00 pm EDT
Making an Impact: Building Transportable Projects (MI) Workshop
F117 MI Tuesday November 8, 2011 1:00 pm EDT
Michael Georgiopoulos played the role of the moderator for each one of these webinars. Laurianne Torres and her group from ORC facilitated the handout of needed documents and power point presentations, pertinent to these webinars. Bonnie Swan, ICubed evaluator, and ICubed’s program assistants also attended these webinars. Each webinar featured NSF program directors that provided useful information about the aforementioned topic. During these webinars, questions were posed to the attendees by the NSF program directors that all the participants had to provide answers for through a think individually, share with local participant, report to the virtual participants’ group, learn from directors’ answers approach.
A number of participants from UCF attended these TUES webinars (8-10 participants were present in each one of these webinars. It is expected that at least five TUES proposals will be submitted in response to the Type 1 TUES NSF proposal solicitation (proposals are due on May 28, 2012).×
To support undergraduate research and internship opportunities for UCF students Workforce Central Florida (WCF) has funded the work experiences of students who were pursuing research under the mentorship of a UCF STEM faculty or were working as an intern at the premises of a company. In particular, WCF funded two distinct projects one called WCF-NEI (New and Emerging Industries) project and the other one called WCF-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics project).
In 2010-2011, UCF-NEI funded 36 students for research and 6 students for internship experiences, for a total of 42 supported individuals. Students from 12 different STEM majors were mentored by 33 faculty/industry mentors from eight different STEM disciplines and five companies. Out of the 36 student participants, 17 were female (40%) and 25 were male (60%). In our mentor pool we had two female mentors and 31 male mentors. Thirteen (13) first generation college students participated (31%), which means neither of the parents have a college education. Our student group consisted of three African Americans (7%), ten Hispanics/Latinos (24%), for a total of 13 (31%) students coming from underrepresented populations.
In 2010-2011, UCF-STEM funded 60 students for summer research experiences and 19 students for STEAM projects, for a total of 79 supported individuals. Students from 16 different STEM majors were mentored by 38 faculty mentors from 9 different STEM disciplines. Out of the 79 student participants, 33 were female (42%) and 46 were male (58%). In our mentor pool we had seven female mentors and 31 male mentors. Eleven (11) first generation college students participated (20%), which means neither of the parents have a college education (23 students did not report status). Our student group consisted of 54 Caucasians (68%), 14 Hispanics (17%), six Asians (8%), and five African Americas (6%); so in summary we involved 23% of underrepresented minorities in this effort.
What is worth noting is that the WCF funding created stronger synergies of existing programs at UCF that support undergraduate research experiences and internship experiences for students. These increased synergies involved programs such as, EXCEL (an NSF funded STEP project), YES (an NSF funded S-STEM project), ICubed (an NSF funded I^3 program), McNair (a DOE funded project), RAMP (a UCF funded project), LEARN (an NSF funded TUES project), and the Experiential Learning Office at UCF. These synergies are expected to continue in 2011-2012 and expanded to other programs as well.×
This event was sponsored by UCF’s ICubed grant and the Office of Research and Commercialization at UCF. Six NSF CAREER Awardees were invited to participate in a panel discussion on January 26, 2012, 3:00–5:00 p.m. The CAREER awardees came from a variety of disciplines, such as: Electrical Engineering (Xun Gong), College of Education (Bobby Jeanpierre), Nano-Science Technology Center and Physics (Saiful Khondaker), Chemistry and Optics (Steven Kuebler), Computer Science (Joe LaViola) and Materials (Nina Orlovskaya). Assistant professors, post-doctoral associates and graduate students from UCF were invited to participate in this panel discussion (potential future CAREER proposers). More than 40 people have RSVP’d that they will participate. In the actual panel discussion more than 30 attendees participated.
The panel discussion had a moderator (Michael Georgiopoulos) from the Office of Research and Commercialization. The meeting started with an opening statement from the moderator and chair of the STEMREC council (Michael Georgiopoulos) who explained the purpose of the meeting and emphasized the structure of the panel discussion. Then, each panelist introduced himself/herself and provided a brief overview of their CAREER grant. The moderator asked the panel questions, from a list of scripted questions, prepared in coordination with the panelists, prior to the occurrence of the event. Each scripted question was answered by a panelist (lead) and then additional answers were provided by other panelists (follow-up). After the lead and follow-up answers from the panelists were provided, the audience had an opportunity to answer one or two questions related to the scripted question answered. The time allotted for this panel discussion allowed the moderator to ask ten distinct questions. At the end of this panel discussion, participants from the audience had the opportunity to ask the panelists additional questions. The panel discussion ended by a closing statement from the moderator, who encouraged all the attendees to get in touch with the panelists for additional clarifications and person-to-person discussions of how to write a successful CAREER proposal (all the attendees were provided information about each and every panelist and their contact information). Furthermore, the participants were reminded that there would be a follow-up of this discussion that would include workshops, sponsored by the Office and Research and Commercialization, to help the NSF CAREER proposers with certain aspects of their CAREER proposal.
At the end of the panel discussion all the participants (audience) were asked to evaluate the panel discussion from the perspective of content, organization, and value. The results of this assessment are included in the ICubed annual report (2011-2012 report).
This event was video-taped by UCF TV. The video will be available at the UCF ORC (Office of Research and Commercialization) web-site, soon.×
In response to an e-mail sent by Elliot Vittes in the fall of 2011, Interim Vice-Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, a team of individuals was identified to look into the opportunities of federally funded fellowships that UCF undergraduate students can compete for in the pursuit of funded graduate studies at UCF or other institutions around the nation. These individuals were Michael Georgiopoulos (ICubed Co-PI), Michael Stern (Associate Dean of Graduate College), Michael Aldarondo Jeffries (Director of the RAMP and McNair programs at UCF), Teresa Dorman (Assistant Dean of the COS), Kimberly Schneider (Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research), and Nicole Gelfert, Assistant Director of Academic Support Services for the Honors and the designated person from Honors for prestigious fellowships. Two meetings were conducted in the fall of 2011. The outcome of these meetings was that each one of the meeting participants (see above) would identify a limited set of federal fellowships that they are familiar with and they have resources for. The plan for spring 2012 is to hold another set of meetings in which notes will be compared about the fellowships that resources are available for; then a small list of federally funded fellowships will be identified for which workshops will be conducted for UCF undergraduate students that will help them write competitive application packages in the pursuit of these fellowships.×
ICubed is planning a Winter Conference under the auspices of the bigger Winter Conference that the Faculty Center of Teaching and Learning (FCTL) at UCF is conducting on a yearly basis. In this ICubed recommended conference select STEM professors, as well as Visual Arts professors will be invited to participate, and paid a stipend for their participation. This conference will be a week-long conference and will have as its focus a specific NSF proposal solicitation that the invited professors would be interested in targeting. Examples of solicitations that fit ICubed’s interests are: TUES, Informal Science Education, others. The outcome of this conference is for the attendees to come up with a good 1st draft of the proposal, which will be further enhanced, after the conference’s conclusion, for final submission to NSF. At this point in time, it seems that a good theme for this proposal is related to the STEAM Gallery Initiative that ICubed has been pursuing for two years now. Select ORC (Office of Research and Commercialization) personnel will also participate in this conference and conduct workshops for the attendees pertaining to important proposal elements.×
Michael Georgiopoulos, ICubed Project Director/CoPI/STEM Research Activity Coordinator, EXCEL PI, YES PI, PI, CoPI of various Workforce Central Florida (WCF) contracts; Michael Aldarondo Jeffries, Director of RAMP and McNair, CoPI on various WCF contracts; Chris Parkinson, EXCEL URE Coordinator, PI, CoPI on various WCF contracts; and Amber Reece, Program Assistant for EXCEL program and its spin-off programs. According the project director, this group meets bi-weekly. He provided a description of what has transpired as a result of the collaboration, which is summarized below.
One method of increasing student retention in STEM fields is to expand their involvement in undergraduate research and internship experiences. To facilitate this goal, funding was received from Workforce Central Florida (WCF) to pay undergraduate students in STEM disciplines to work on research projects and partake in internship experiences during the 2011‐2012 academic year and in the Summer 2012. See the WCF website: http://www.workforcecentralflorida.com/. Towards this goal WCF has funded the work experiences of students who were pursuing research under the mentorship of a UCF STEM faculty or were working as an intern at the premises of a company. In particular, WCF funded two distinct projects one called UCF-NEI (New and Emerging Industries) project and the other one called UCF-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics project). In their totality the UCF-NEI and UCF-STEM projects supported in total 374 students in their research, internship or senior design experiences.×
This is the project committee of the GEMS program consisting of Michael Georgiopoulos, ICubed Project Director/CoPI; Melissa Dagley, Director of Academic Affairs and UG Advising, CECS; Lauren Cavettee, Lead GEMS Mentor; and Jean Alexander, Program Manager, Workforce Central Florida. According the project director, this group meets bi-weekly. According to the project director this group met bi-weekly and no agenda and minutes are kept. He provided a description of what has transpired with GEMS, which is summarized below.
GEMS (Girls EXCELing in Math and Science), is a spin-off program of the EXCEL program at UCF. GEMS is funded by Workforce Central Florida (WCF). EXCEL was initially funded in 2006 by NSF and is now supported by UCF, NSF, Workforce Central Florida and Progress Energy. Both of these programs, EXCEL and GEMS, have as their primary goal to increase the retention of UCF students in STEM disciplines by providing them enhanced educational opportunities and support. GEMS, by offering a peer mentorship support network for female students only, places a special retention emphasis on the women in EXCEL.
The purpose of EXCEL is to increase the success of students who pursue a degree in a STEM discipline. EXCEL retention data illustrate that the project has been successful in retaining these students at about 40% higher rate than the retention rate attained by a comparison group.
The GEMS program’s inaugural year was 2010-11 when the EXCEL cohort consisted of 203 students of which 131 were male and 72 were female. In Fall 2010, the retention rate for the 2009 EXCEL male students was 85% compared to a 70% retention rate for the 2009 EXCEL female students. Considering that 75% of the women in EXCEL belong to Engineering and Computer Science disciplines, the GEMS program is fulfilling the national need to equalize the degrees awarded to men and women in these disciplines by reducing the STEM retention gap between EXCEL men and women.
To summarize, in its second year of existence, GEMS resulted in reducing the retention gap of male to female EXCEL students by 10.5% (the 2009 cohort retention gap of 15% was reduced to a 2011 cohort retention gap of 4.5%). It is also worth mentioning that GEMS impacted a lot more than the 146 female EXCEL students in the 2010 and 2011 cohorts. The outreach efforts impacted all freshman and sophomore students in either one of these two academic years—which is approximately 400 students.
Due to the success of the GEMS program, UCF is funding GEMS in 2012-2013. In 2012-2013 EXCEL has recruited 136 male in the program while EXCEL/GEMS recruited 71 women. The expectation is that after two years of GEMS experiences that the retention gap between male and female EXCEL students will continue to be reduced.
The EXCEL/GEMS program supports underrepresented student population in STEM disciplines (female students) to go through this juncture of their college career (from freshman to sophomore), and preparing them for the rigors of more difficult coursework.×
Michael Georgiopoulos, ICubed Project Director/CoPI; Cynthia Young, EXCEL CoPI, and CoPI of other Workforce Central Florida funded programs; Melissa Dagley Director of Academic Affairs and UG Advising, CECS; Suzzy Bobbit and Trian Gettig of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC);and Jennifer Sellers, Vice President of The Training Connection (TTC). According to the ICubed project director, this group meets occasionally, as needed, and no agenda and minutes are kept.
In 2011-2012, motivated by the strong success of the GEMS program, SAIC is offering a mentorship program for EXCEL female sophomore students, called WISE Mentoring at UCF (WISE). This effort bridges multiple projects at UCF. The purpose of WISE is to provide role models for EXCEL sophomore female students that sustain their interest in STEM and offer them meaningful STEM career experiences. The program is funded by SAIC and other companies in the vicinity of UCF. In WISE, EXCEL female sophomore students are paired up with STEM female role models from companies for a six-month mentoring experience. This mentorship program is organized and run, with GEMS supervision and support, by an outside mentorship company (Mentorship Connection) that provides training for mentors and mentees, appropriate pairing up of mentors and mentees, and periodic follow-ups of the established connections and common gatherings for all mentors and mentees throughout this six month internship experience. Mentorship Connection will provide a report at the end of the mentorship experience that details the feedback from these established connections. The EXCEL female sophomore students will have the opportunity, after this experience is completed, to continue the relationship with their mentor and her corresponding company, as they see fit.
During September 2011, professional female mentors were recruited from 10 different local companies and paired with 25 students (mostly sophomores and all from the EXCEL program). Companies included TriQuint Semiconductors, Lockheed Martin, Harris Corporation, SAIC, Progress Energy, Dignitas Technologies, PEOSTRI, Northrop Grumman, and two private businesses. Ninety-two percent of the mentor/mentee pairs completed the 2011-2012 program successfully.
The WISE Mentoring program at UCF, helps an underrepresented, in certain STEM disciplines, cohort (female students) overcome the challenges of the sophomore year in college (an important juncture in a STEM student’s college experience), educates them about STEM disciplines and offers them the potential of meaningful internship opportunities in their junior and senior years. WISE is continuing in 2012-2013 with a new cohort of around 25 students and it is supported by the EXCEL program at UCF.×
Michael Georgiopoulos, ICubed Project Director/CoPI, Michael Stern, Associate Dean of the Graduate College; Kim Schneider, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research; Michael Aldarondo Jeffries, Director of the RAMP and McNair programs at UCF; Nicole Gelfert, Director of the Prestigious Fellowships Program at Honors College; and Teresa Dorman, Assistant Dean of the College of Sciences. This group did not meet in 2012, but a number of initiatives are planned for Spring 2013.
In response to an e-mail in 2011 sent by Elliot Vittes, Interim Vice-Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, a team of individuals was identified to look into the opportunities of federally funded fellowships that UCF undergraduate students can compete for in the pursuit of funded graduate studies at UCF or other institutions around the nation. The outcome of these meetings was that each one of the meeting participants (see above) would identify a limited set of federal fellowships that they are familiar with and have resources for. Later the group met again, in Spring 2012 or Summer 2012, and currently this effort is now part of a bigger STEMREC effort, mentioned below [STEMREC Group Effort # 8; iSTEM (Initiatives in STEM)], which has as one of its goals to inform and help UCF undergraduates compete for federal scholarships and fellowships. In short, this effort will now proceed with a number of definitive action items (e.g. informative workshops, mentor-mentee pairings, student (mentee) mentorship, others) in Spring 2013.×
Laurianne Torres, Director of Research Development at ORC, the ICubed project director, Cynthia Young, Associate Dean, College of Sciences (COS), Louis Chow, Associate Dean of COS, and Andrew Daire, Associate Dean of Research at the College of Education, met five times according the project director, to discuss and come up with ideas to support faculty in increasing the number of funded proposals. Ms. Torres has resigned and will soon be replaced by a new Director of Research Development.
According to the ICubed project director, some of the activities of this group will be subsumed by the new STEMRE effort (STEMRE Group #8; iSTEM Initiatives). In particular, the members of this group will consist of the associate deans of research of the College of Sciences, College of Education and College of Engineering and Computer Science and one of their goals is to identify research opportunities for the faculty in these colleges through the new Research Opportunities Management system, called ComPAS developed by Bruce Furino, one of the ICubed CoPIs.×
Michael Georgiopoulos, ICubed Project Director/CoPI, Sam Richie, Co-Director of National Science Olympiad (NSO), and Mike McKee, State Director of the Florida Science Olympiad met frequently in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 to plan and carry out this event. Occasionally this STEMRE Group involves other people. The following information was provided by the project director.
UCF hosted the 28th Annual NSO Tournament in May 2012, where more than 7,000 high school students, families and teachers from across the U.S. competed in the largest science tournament of its kind in the country. The national tournament included 46 STEM related events covering many areas of science, mathematics, engineering, inquiry and discovery. These interscholastic competitions encourage on improving learning in engineering, biology, earth science, chemistry, physics, problem solving and technology.
For the past 28 years, NSO has promoted science education. What began as a grassroots assembly of science teachers is now one of the premiere science competitions in the nation, providing rigorous, standard-based challenges to nearly 6,200 teams in all 50 states. The event lineup provides a variety of career choices and exposure to practicing scientists and mentors. UCF’s goal in hosting the event is to let young students know that engineering and science can be fun, exciting and challenging all at the same time. In college and the workplace, students have opportunities to find that the team spirit and good sportsmanship they develop during Science Olympiad will be deciding factors in their future professional success. Attached in Appendix C is a brochure outlining the event.
The project director was involved in this effort from two perspectives: to both help secure enough financial backing to allow the event to reach its desired potential; and to make sure that the attendees were exposed to a good representation of the education and research opportunities offered by UCF. For instance, Workforce Central Florida (WCO) organized the transport of more than 200 middle and high school students from area schools that would benefit from the activities. Additionally, the project director initiated discussions with Directors of Centers and Institutes (NSTC, CREOL, IST, FSEC, FSI), the Directors of the Incubation and GrowthFL programs at UCF, and many other to make sure that the appropriate financial resources and programming were in place to warrant a successful event. ICubed students, as well as students from other programs (EXCEL, YES, RAMP, McNair, Honors, others), served as volunteers and helped in the coordination of all the planned NSO activities.
In retrospect, this NSO event was successful to the point that the UCF organizing team was invited, and accepted to host the event again in 2014 (the 30th Anniversary year of NSO).×
Michael Georgiopoulos, ICubed Project Director/CoPI coordinated with the Office of Research Staff (ORC) for this initiative.
A two-hour UCF-NSF CAREER Award Panel Discussion that took place at UCF on January 26, 2012. Members of the panel were provided with a list of scripted questions in advance, and the event was moderated by the project director/then Interim Assistant Vice President of Research, ORC at UCF. The 33 faculty members and others, who attended, were well engaged in interesting and meaningful discussion. Survey results indicated the participants were satisfied, and felt it was a worthwhile experience.
As a follow up activity, the project director arranged for past and current NSF CAREER awardees at UCF to serve as mentors of UCF faculty interested in working on an NSF CAREER proposal. As a result, for 2012 10 mentor/mentee pairs were formed that interacted closely for the time period spanning the end of the panel discussion (end of January 2012) to July 2012 (time of the submission of the NSF CAREER awards). Anecdotal information and some survey results collected during and immediately after this mentor/mentee interaction time interval indicated that this effort is worthwhile and it should be continued.
ORC staff reported that 39 percent of the panel attendees in 2012 submitted CAREER proposals, up from 25 percent who submitted after attending a similar event the previous year. Data also indicate that individuals who had attended previous panels were also likely to submit a proposal.
Results from an analysis of UCF records—revealed that since these panels were first initiated—25 proposals have been submitted, three panel attendee proposals have been awarded, two in 2011 and one in 2012.×
This initiative began in late Summer 2012 with all the College deans and the Center/Institute directors. (AMPAC, CREOL, NSTC) and met approximately 15 times in Fall 2012 according to the project director. The Project Director (Interim dean of CECS) provided the following description.
Faculty in CECS and COS are very active in STEM education, including outreach, recruitment, programs to improve student success, and research. To build on this success, and expand collaboration, the two colleges have agreed to work together on multi-disciplinary STEM education research, programs, and outreach efforts. Therefore, the CECS/COS Initiatives in STEM (iSTEM) effort has as its core mission to promote and enhance CECS and COS collaborative efforts on STEM education and research. iSTEM will help us develop close ties with other colleges, centers, and institutes on campus, as well as other stakeholders with a similar interest in STEM initiatives. This includes both STEM and non-STEM units with an interest in STEM-related education.
The four goals of iSTEM are: 1) To bring coherence to the many externally and internally STEM funded projects at UCF; 2) To increase grant and philanthropic funding efforts that support STEM education and related research by bringing together interested participants from throughout UCF and from outside UCF; 3) To position UCF in Florida and nationally as a hub for STEM education and related research; and 4) To improve the STEM pipeline and produce a better STEM workforce.
During the Fall 2012 semester the deans of CECS and COS (Georgiopoulos and Johnson) have met with deans from each of the UCF Colleges and the Directors of Centers and Institutes. The intent of these meetings was to inform them of iSTEM’s purpose, goals and initiatives with the eventual goal of establishing a coalition that expands well and beyond the two colleges (College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Sciences). Furthermore, the two deans have hired a new director of iSTEM who will initially focus on the initiatives set forth for iSTEM. The creation of iSTEM will include many of the STEMREC group initiatives that were proposed.×
Michael Georgiopoulos, Interim Dean of CECS (College of Engineering and Computer Science) and ICubed Project Director/CoPI, Fran Korosec, Director of the DOL-YES Program, Ms. Kim Smith, Associate Director of Research Programs and Services, Lisa Massi, Director of Operations and Analysis, and representatives of Workforce Central Florida (WCF), Lockheed Martin Corporation, IBM and AT&T. According to the project director, the group met monthly beginning in Summer 2012. He provided the following description.
UCF, WCF, Lockheed Martin, AT&T and IBM submitted a proposal to the Department of Labor, called CF STEM (Central Florida STEM), which was awarded in 2012. The effort is multi-faceted, with three goals relevant to ICubed:
• Provide support for the long-term unemployed in Central Florida by offering them the opportunity for funded work over a limited time period (8 weeks) at the premise of a Central Florida company with the anticipation that this would lead to long term employment with the company.
• Provide training that is needed for the professional development of employees for the good of the company.
• Provide internship opportunities for UCF junior and seniors to learn the skills needed to succeed in the workforce upon graduation.
As a result of this effort, which is supported by DOL and YES (an NSF supported S-STEM program): the plan was to award 15 UCF student internships to juniors and seniors, each year. In addition to the internship, these students have the opportunity to enroll in entrepreneurship courses at UCF, paid for by the DOL contract. They are assigned two mentors: 1 mentor at the industry where they intern, and 1 mentor from the College of Business (supported by the DOL contract) both of whom helped in assuring that the internship provides meaningful and rewarding experiences for both the student and the partner company involved. Students learn business skills in the internship, which is for 10-15 hours each a week for 30 weeks.
Expectations for mentees include: minimum 3.0 GPA each semester and full time enrollment; qualify for financial need (per FAFSA); major in engineering or computer science; participate successfully in the internship for a minimum 15 hours required each week; participate in the DOL-YES Distinguished Speaker Series and the DOL-YES Annual Symposium; participate in DOL-YES social activities; adhere to company policies; meet with DOL-YES advisor each semester; and participate in DOL-YES assessment activities.
For the first cohort (2012), of the 10 UCF students who were chosen as potential interns, two were placed with a partner company.×