Advanced Manufacturing Online STEM Education Pipeline for Early-College and High School Students
During the summer of 2020, we hosted a virtual summer camp for high school and early-college STEM students. The subject is related to advanced manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing. This outreach is funded by the Department of Energy DOE consortium project. With this summer program, our objective is to prepare a pool of students in the AM area in high demand in industrial and national research laboratories. The main objective is to teach students to use Autodesk Inventor, use mathematics to solve engineering problems and use 3D printers. Additionally, the application of materials science is introduced to demonstrate the integration between mathematics and science. The progressive level of projects related to producing better parts, assemblies, and drawings mainly focuses on critical thinking and developing creative solutions (problem-solving, writing, visual arts, communication skills, and openmindedness) to problems. One goal is to first introduce students to different areas of engineering and how each of these areas is connected to different applications of advanced manufacturing to help students shape their careers and select a discipline program that best suits their goals. This article aims to discuss the virtual teaching experience from the perspective of students and teachers. We will discuss the virtual activities carried out during this summer camp, as well as the modifications made to this course to make it more suitable for online teaching. Virtual teaching was an opportunity to share knowledge, information, and experiences online with other groups and universities. Collaborative work between an NCAT faculty and high school instructors and teachers from the AM industry and research labs has been one of the success stories that have helped shape this program. The industrial participation was very helpful in meeting industrial needs, reviewing AM applications, and discussing issues related to research and education, pedagogy, communication with high school students, and keeping them focused on the task. We discuss the project design program from a student's perspective and experience gained in the AM area, integration, and written and oral communication. The methodology used to assess the effectiveness of this outreach program in terms of learning outcomes is also described.