Collaborative Research: Creating a National Network of Engineering Ambassadors: A Professional Development Program with an Outreach Mission

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project addresses the need for a more diverse enrollment in engineering by creating a national network of the Engineering Ambassador Programs that are currently under way at Penn State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the University of Connecticut (UConn), and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). These programs develop the communication and leadership skills of undergraduate engineers by having them perform an outreach mission to middle and high schools. The Engineering Ambassador Programs place the right messenger - engineering students who have been taught advanced presentation skills - with the right message - messages about engineering from Changing the Conversation, a study done by the National Academy of Engineering - in front of middle and high school students. An NSF workshop grant was used to train 2-4 engineering ambassadors at 17 other geographically diverse institutions. Now the project is expanding the network by increasing ten-fold the 2-4 ambassadors at these 17 pilot programs. This expansion has two key goals: (1) providing valuable communication and leadership skills to additional engineering students who are becoming Ambassadors, and (2) having those Ambassadors speak to middle and high school students to further increase the diversity of students entering engineering.

This project is determining whether the success that the Engineering Ambassador programs have had on the professional development of Ambassadors at Penn State, RPI, UConn, and WPI will transfer to 16 additional institutions across the United States. The project is empowering 500 undergraduate engineers, most of whom are from under-represented groups, with advanced presentation skills, such as the assertion-evidence approach to slide design. These 500 undergraduates are then creating and delivering well-crafted presentations to more than 70,000 students in middle and high schools across the United States. Because these presentations carry the messages of Changing the Conversation, these presentations are increasing interest in engineering among those students. Moreover, more than 750 science and math teachers in these middle and high schools are being influenced by the presentations and they are being placed in a position to deliver those messages after the Ambassadors have left.

Effective start/end date9/1/1312/31/17


  • National Science Foundation: $547,970.00


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