Showcase Track: STEM

Showcase Track: STEM

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The STEM track is focused on technology-based projects aimed at opening access and closing the achievement gap for Hispanic learners in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

These are the Best Practices in STEM which use innovative technology approaches to increase recruitment, retention, and success opportunities for Hispanics in the STEM areas.   Below is a table listing the presentations selected to showcase during the conference. Please refer below for the official time schedule of this track.

Date Time Room Presenters Presentation Title & Abstract
February 16 ,2012 11:00 AM Amphitheater 2 Juan C. Morales, Ph. D, P.E.
Dept. Mechanical EngineeringUniversidad del Turabo (AGMUS)
(This presentation will be conducted in Spanish, translation services available.)Increasing Graduation Rates of Hispanic Engineering Students by Achieving Deep Learning Concepts.  

UT is hereby submitting an individual grant proposal with the overarching goal of increasing the number of Hispanic students attaining degrees in engineering (Priority 1). UT will also develop a model transfer and articulation agreement with Mech Tech community college located in the Central-East region of Puerto Rico (Priority 2). The project will also enable more data-based decision-making, thus the Competitive Preference Priority is also addressed by hiring a statistician to create the structure that will enable data-based decision-making.

The educational focus of this proposal is to provide “… a set of learning experiences that allow students to construct deep conceptual knowledge, to develop the ability to apply key technical and professional skills fluently, and to engage in a number of authentic engineering projects”, as expressed by T.A. Litzinger in a recent paper in the Journal of Engineering Education. This project is as much about deep learning of fundamentals by the students as it is about transforming the vision of engineering education of faculty members. The program will consist of two Interactive Engineering Learning Centers, IELC1 and IELC2 (Activity I) focused on providing direct services to engineering students; the creation of a Summer Faculty Immersion Program (SFIP) that will ignite innovative teaching in engineering courses (Activity II); and, to build the infrastructure required to offer a new civil engineering program that will attract 200 new Hispanic students into engineering (Activity III). This combination of the IELCs and SFIP represents a model of the Teaching and Learning Centers recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academies.


February 17 ,2012 10:30 AM Amphitheater 1 Dr. Antonio Vantaggiato
Professor University of the Sacred Heart
(Watch Webcast)
STEMmED: A Successful Infrastructure for Science Learning.In this presentation we will discuss the five interconnected components of our project STEMmED, which aims to create the conditions for students to pursue careers in STEM and achieve success with higher rates of retention. The project is directed by a team of five members, all colleagues and friends from the Natural Sciences Department of the University of the Sacred Heart: Professors Doribel Rodríguez, Mayra Alonso, María Lázaro, John Olmo and myself as Project Director. Each of us oversees his/her own academic areas, respectively Computing, Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry. Plus, each has direct responsibilities on the management of some of the project’s components. The components are:
1) Infrastructure: Labs and Learning Spaces to provide students the right conditions to approach and study science;
2) Curricular redesign: providing the right curricular, pedagogical context to pursue studies in science, by means of Web 2.0 technologies; Redesign is done by committed faculty.
3) Faculty Improvement: providing our faculty the knowledge needed to redesign courses and enhance their pedagogical skills;
4) Faculty & student research: students opportunities to see science in action and develop new knowledge and skills;
5) Pipeline from High School: Providing Freshmen with an immersive Summer Program to introduce them to math, science… and pseudo-science.
In the Project’s two-year lifespan we achieved a retention rate of the control group of 86%, and we have monitored students’ enthusiasm when working in new, state-of-the-art science labs
with courses that take advantage of the new Web to better engage them.

February 17 ,2012 9:00 AM Theater Nathan H. Lents, Ph.D.
Deputy Chair, Department of Sciences,John Jay College of Criminal Justice
(Watch Webcast)
Promoting Success in Science Courses by Replacing Textbooks with Free Online Content.This session will be a demonstration of Visionlearning, a free online resource of modular interdisciplinary content for use in innovative science education. The Visionlearning project has been funded for more than ten years by the National Science Foundation and the United States Department of Education to develop both content and teaching tools for science students and educators, provided free of charge to students and teachers around the world at (or .org). The latest round of funding from USDOE (FIPSE program) has focused on developing content to more explicitly teach the process and nature of science. This is done in two ways: first, a series of 19 modules that cover the process of science explicitly; and second, the development of modules that teach disciplinary content in chemistry, biology, and earth science from the process and discovery perspective. The library now stands at 75 completed modules, all of which are available in both English and Spanish, and is used as a complete textbook replacement in at least 85 classrooms (in the USA, Mexico, Spain, Puerto Rico, Australia, the UK, and Macedonia) at no cost to students or teachers. It is used as supplementary content in countless others.  


February 16, 2012 1:30 PM Theater Dr. Paul Marchese
Associate Dean
Prof. Robert Kueper
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology

Scott Beltzer
Freshman Coordinator of STEM Academy

Queensborough Community College
Presentation (Watch Webcast)
The Latino STEM Support Network at Queensborough Community College. In the spring of 2010 International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) awarded a grant to Queensborough Community College of the City University of New York (QCC) to provide support to Latino students in STEM. The goal of the grant was to build on the work of the STEM academy and provide a system that would enable academy personnel to better address the needs of the students and help them overcome some of the barriers to graduation. After an in-depth analysis of student needs and capabilities of the college it was decided that IBM would develop an alert reporting system that would enable college support personnel to assist students more comprehensively and efficiently. The systems automates many of the activities currently carried out by academy coordinators and faculty, and enable them to better focus on students that are most in need of support, with a specific focus on Latino students, although all students in the STEM Academy would benefit from this grant.The system is based around a student’s classroom performance and a series of risk indicators known to hinder student success. These indictors, developed in consultation with a QCC and CUNY advisory committee, include:
• current in-class performance and behavior • multiple remedial placements • past performance at high school or QCC • outside of classroom factors (full-time worker, single parent, etc.) • students with academic referrals who have not received services

Students who are at risk of doing poorly based on these indicators trigger an automatic notification to academy coordinators who then refer the student(s) to the appropriate office for support (tutoring, counseling, financial aid, etc). The system also enables academy coordinators to follow up with students to ensure that the students received the needed support and are progressing.


February 17 ,2012 9:00 AM Amphitheater 3 Dr. Mary Parker
DirectorUniversity of Houston- Downtown
UHD Scholars Academy: A Program Supporting STEM Student Success.
The Scholars Academy (SA) is an academically competitive scholarship and mentoring program housed in the University of Houston-Downtown College of Sciences & Technology supporting exceptional minority and female, first time in college (FTIC), first generation, and transfer students pursuing baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). By providing tuition support scholarships and year-round mentoring with both peer mentors and STEM PhD faculty mentors, a scholars’ community forms the foundation for success in this program. This successful community of learners becomes further enriched through high impact activities promoting both scholarly research and career investigation in first hand ways. Seminars, colloquia, and on-sight field trips with peer and faculty mentors afford these undergraduates the mechanisms to experience many of the careers they envision for themselves. Support of student research presentations locally and at regional, national, and international conferences provides the high impact experiences which acclimate, motivate, and dedicate these students. Finally, the addition of service learning components to the peer mentor group experiences truly establishes a science leadership experience within the community/industry setting. Our SA stem graduates experience course content, laboratory skills, as well as the ethical and leadership components that transfer learning into actions. The Scholars Academy mission ten years focused primarily upon increasing underrepresented in the undergraduate STEM university experience. Ten years later, the SA’s mission, while in part the same, now focuses upon increasing on-time graduation rates and greater retention rates. However the end goal now forecasts how many enter graduate/professional programs, after having completed the baccalaureate STEM major at UHD.

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