University to strengthen and build engineering education, workforce development

New position created in collaboration between Colleges of Education and Engineering

12/18/2013 - By: Mike Wolterbeek
engineering education Middle school students at Washoe County School District’s Dilworth Stem Academy watch as their experiments are readied to be launched with weather balloons to the top of the atmosphere in a University of Nevada, Reno STEM engineering program. Photo by Mike Wolterbeek.

The University of Nevada, Reno has embarked on a new initiative to help build engineering education at all levels of Nevada schools and provide a path for students to enter the Nevada workforce in the many fields of engineering.

The program, under the guidance of a new faculty position, will combine curriculum from the College of Education and the College of Engineering to develop teacher preparation courses that include engineering. It will also support innovative enterprises to enhance STEM education in Nevada, scholarly research, a new engineering education graduate program and outreach to the community.

"This position will initiate a new era for the University and the Colleges of Education and Engineering as well as the State of Nevada," Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering said. "It will put us among few programs in the nation that will have the ability to graduate educators who can teach engineering to our K-12 youth. This will contribute to the creation of a pipeline of a technologically advanced workforce, which is critical for the State's economic development efforts."

The new assistant professor will also teach existing engineering and education courses as well as develop new courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The University has begun advertising for the position that will start in July 2014 in hopes of beginning new courses next fall.

"This new faculty position will play a leadership role in developing the program," Ken Coll, dean of the College of Education, said. "It will be one of the national models in this emerging field. Through this position, and our other active initiatives, we are on a path to be a national leader in graduate and undergraduate engineering education."

The engineering education position complements other joint efforts between the two colleges, such as the new masters level course the University offers to current Nevada K-12 teachers to educate them on fundamental science, technology, engineering and mathematics principles, the Raggio Research Center for STEM Education and last year's Distinguished Engineering Lecture presented by director of the Museum of Science in Boston, Ioannis Miaoulis, about the importance of STEM education.

"This new position is the result of the continuing, close collaboration between the two colleges and brings a systematic approach to introducing engineering to the state's K-12 curriculum," Maragakis said.  "It will also complement the UTeach program led by the College of Education."

Uteach is a program that aims to recruit, prepare and retain qualified STEM teachers by introducing undergraduate math, science and computer science majors to secondary teaching.

The new faculty position is a joint appointment between the College of Engineering and the College of Education. The position will be housed in the College of Engineering.


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