Joint ENG-SED Program Meets Need for STEM Educator-Engineers

By Kathrin Havrilla


The College of Engineering is partnering with the School of Education to address a need for educators who have the knowledge and passion to teach technology in the nation’s K-12 systems. This unique program is called the STEM Educator-Engineer Program (STEEP) and will enable ENG undergraduates to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in their chosen engineering major and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in five years. The result will be an inspirational educator-engineer licensed to teach in math, science, technology and engineering in nearly every state in the nation.

Current national efforts in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focus largely on science and math, often because teachers do not have backgrounds in technology and engineering. STEEP is aimed at populating secondary schools with teachers who are naturally able to connect science and math to engineering and better able to communicate the excitement of the field to young learners.

“This unique and powerful partnership between the College of Engineering and the School of Education is aimed at addressing the long-term impact of teaching how science and math connect to engineering and technology innovation throughout the K-12 education system,” said ENG Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen. “This program will differentiate Boston University nationally, producing a new kind of educator who helps fill the nation’s pipeline with young people inspired to improve society through innovative and exciting technologies.”

“The preparation of great engineers starts with the quality of the science education they receive, starting in middle school and going through college and graduate school,” said SED Dean Hardin Coleman. “This joint program between the schools of Education and Engineering will allow engineering students to become certified teachers, pursue academic careers in a university with their strong pedagogical training, or become professional engineers. In any case, they will be prepared to increase the numbers who are interested in starting a career in science, technology, math and engineering.”

The program will be directed by Gretchen Fougere, ENG’s assistant dean for Outreach and Diversity. “This program is designed to create teachers who regularly and naturally guide the application of math and science lessons to engineering design and technology development,” she said. “These STEEP graduates have a passion for technology, an understanding of the innovation process, and hold strong pedagogical skills to be effective educators, impacting and inspiring in a regular and sustained way. Engineers are motivated to solve problems and improve the lives of others, and this program creates another career path for the BU Societal Engineers to fulfill their mission.”

Fougere noted that the program is likely to find Inspiration Ambassadors in the Technology Innovation Scholars Program (TISP) among its early applicants. These engineering undergraduates go into schools in the Boston area and beyond to deliver interactive and engaging presentations and hands-on design challenges. TISP, which began in January 2011 with funding from the Kern Family Foundation and alumni, is quickly gaining interest among both ENG students and schools in the Boston area and beyond.

TISP recently signed a three-year partnership with the Newton Public School district to provide technology and engineering outreach to their secondary students and allow engineers to shadow teachers.  “These types of innovative partnerships are critical to our ability to effectively prepare our students to tackle issues and challenges we can only begin to imagine,” said Jen Price, the principal of Newton North High School.

Dr. David A. Fleishman, superintendent of the Newton Public Schools, added, “I congratulate BU for having the vision and commitment to training talented engineers to make a difference in K-12 education.  While there is significant interest in this critical area, districts cannot build and expand programs without well-trained people in place.”

The STEEP curriculum has been designed to fit both degrees without accommodations or need for summer courses. Students will complete the required courses for any of the four engineering majors and will be guided by graduate advisors from SED, in addition to their undergraduate ENG advisor. The advisors will help plan the required coursework, field experience and student teaching to fulfill both degree requirements simultaneously. Students will start education courses during their undergraduate years, and can explore this potential career by participating as Inspiration Ambassadors in TISP or in other ENG outreach programs. After the fifth year, STEEP graduates will be certified to teach in middle or high schools in 44 states.

ENG sophomores may apply for the program under an expedited admission process. Applications are due January 21. Interested students should contact Gretchen Fougere at gfougere@bu.edu.

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