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Chassapis and team awarded $3 million GK-12 grant from NSF for multiscale research

HOBOKEN, N.J. Through its GK-12 program, the graduate education division of the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a grant of $3,000,000 to a multidisciplinary research team at Stevens Institute of Technology, under the leadership of Professor Constantin Chassapis, Director of the Mechanical Engineering Department. In addition to Chassapis, who serves as the Principal Investigator, the team includes Associate Professor Sven Esche and Assistant Professor Frank Fisher from the Mechanical Engineering Department; Research Assistant Professor Rustam Stolkin from the Environmental and Ocean Engineering Department; as well as Elisabeth McGrath, Director of the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE). Associate Professor Thomas Lechler from the School of Technology Management will also be involved.

Over a period of five years, this project will provide fellowships to ten Stevens doctoral students per year (nine during the first year) who will conduct research in the area of multiscale engineered systems. Working closely with high school teachers, the students will disseminate their research results to several participating high schools within the framework of the New Jersey Alliance for Engineering Education (NJAEE). The Alliance brings a diverse set of high schools throughout New Jersey together with faculty, researchers, and graduate students from Stevens Institute of Technology, and educators at Montclair State University, the University of California-Berkeley, Lawrence Hall of Science, and Bergen Community College.

This Alliance will have a major impact on how we prepare and train the next generation of technology leaders, necessary for the US to maintain its leadership-role in emerging areas of technology in a global economy, while strengthening partnerships to better recruit and retain disadvantaged and under-represented minorities in the engineering pipeline, said Stevens Provost & University Vice President George P. Korfiatis. It is totally appropriate that Stevens be recognized as a leader in these efforts, as we have implemented innovative science, engineering and mathematics curricula in primary and secondary classrooms with great success for several decades.

This is a multi-faceted project, explained Chassapis, which will provide Stevens with a unique and very exciting opportunity. It will combine a significant expansion of our research efforts in the area of multiscale engineered systems with innovative approaches to preparing doctoral students for careers in teaching, while at the same time stimulating wide-reaching transformative changes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education at the high school and community college levels.

In addition to their doctoral research, the Fellows, devoting ten hours per week during the academic year within a high school setting, will collaborate closely with engineering professors, education professionals, and high school teachers to design, develop, implement and help deliver motivating educational modules that are based on their research work, with the aim of motivating the next generation of students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

The fellows research will address a variety of issues related to multiscale engineered systems, one of the major multidisciplinary research areas identified in Stevens Strategic Positioning Plan. An additional focus on engineering design, innovation and inventiveness will help differentiate this unique doctoral program from competing offerings at other institutions.

By developing and integrating a course on Communicating Engineering and a nine-credit graduate education certificate on Teaching and Learning in STEM Disciplines, this program will further enhance the educational and research experience of the participating fellows, helping to attract highly qualified and motivated candidates to our rapidly growing full-time Ph.D. student population in the area of multiscale engineered systems, remarked Esche, Director of the Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program.

The outreach component of this project will positively affect approximately 11,700 high school students and provide considerable professional development opportunities to 130 participating high school teachers. Through the project, a sustainable model for a graduate education certificate program Teaching and Learning in STEM Disciplines as a supplement to traditional doctoral student technical training in engineering will be developed, assessed, and disseminated nationwide. This project has the potential to enrich secondary science classrooms with exciting, leading edge research that enables students to apply their science learning to real-world engineering problems. The pairing of graduate students with talented high school teachers is a powerful combination that can yield valuable curricular products that will benefit students in New Jersey and throughout the US, said McGrath.

Those public schools participating in the project include the Jersey City Public Schools, the Bayonne Public School District, Hoboken Public Schools, North Brunswick and Robbinsville High School, Mercer County-Washington Township Public Schools, Ridgewood Public Schools, the Great Meadows Regional School District, and Bergen County Academies.


Contact: Patrick A. Berzinski
Stevens Institute of Technology

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