Science, Technology & Energy: Expanding Potential (STEEP)
This project is attracting students to and retaining students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields via involvement with sustainable technologies in two ways. The project includes a summer Precalculus Preparedness Seminar, a summer Energy Laboratory Academy as a preparation for a later internship, placement in undergraduate research and/or industry internships, and counseling, mentoring and tutoring support through an existing Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) center. A capstone activity of the Energy Laboratory Academy is a community service project involving photovoltaics. Other efforts aimed at increasing retention within STEM majors include provision of instruction to strengthen skill sets important in gateway courses in math and laboratory science. The project's intellectual merit stems from the interplay of the many interventions being employed: project based learning, service learning, learning through teaching, intensive cohort experiences, individualized learning, and longitudinal support through established learning communities. It addresses the need for improved performance in two gateway classes: Precalculus, the course necessary for almost all lower division college technical coursework, and Circuits, a prerequisite for almost all upper division college technical coursework in many engineering disciplines. It builds on past successes of the MESA center and a current STEP project (0336644) involving a consortium of MESA Centers at a number of community colleges. The project's broader impacts are twofold: results from the comprehensive evaluation of the project are being widely disseminated to encourage others to try similar efforts; and the students graduating from the project are helping to meet the workforce needs in the greater Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay area.