Elsa Villa, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at The University of Texas at El Paso, has been awarded a grant from The Boeing Company to expand the Engineering is Elementary (EIE) program in the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD).
EIE’s mission is to foster engineering and technological literacy among all elementary-aged children by reaching those who are underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and improving educators’ abilities to teach engineering and technology.
Over the course of the past year, 40 EPISD teachers have attended professional development workshops to implement EIE in their classrooms and have learned about different engineering design projects, such as solving problems with alarm systems and windmills, to engage students in the classroom.
With the new grant, Villa plans to double the number of classes impacted by the program and increase the number of teachers receiving training by 50.
“Boeing is proud to provide a grant to UTEP to support Engineering is Elementary, a program that teaches elementary school students about engineering design and processes,” said Rosaura Corral-Perez, Boeing El Paso Operations site leader. “I had the opportunity to observe fourth graders working in teams as they designed a bridge or created an electrical circuit. The passion in their faces convinced me that this program will have a positive effect in developing student interest in STEM fields. Building student skills in this area will help ensure a future workforce in the engineering fields.‘’
After participating in EIE, UTEP researchers found students expressed an increased interest in engineering as a career. The hope is the growing framework will help advance the public’s scientific and technological literacy, as well as meet the growing demands of the 21st century workforce in STEM fields.
Villa said, “UTEP’s Center for Research Engineering and Technology Education is excited to be involved in this meaningful interdisciplinary grant project that has potential for increasing interest in engineering careers. I want to acknowledge Eric Hagedorn, William Medina-Jerez, and Debra Little for their work in making this project successful.”