Undergraduate enhancement projects earn students national acclaim

June 10, 2009

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Efforts to enhance their undergraduate experience have earned some Bagley College of Engineering (BCoE) students national acclaim.

Two student teams placed in the national Engineering Education Service Center’s (EESC) 2009 Engineering Curriculum Contest using projects they developed for the BCoE’s technical writing course.

A first for the EESC, the competition challenged teams to develop hands-on activities to help students learn and retain more math and science concepts.

“For the competition we were asked to bridge the gap between the various levels of science education – middle to high school or high school to college,” explained Chase Boothe, a senior in industrial engineering. “Basically we had to answer the reoccurring math and science question, ‘Why do we need to learn this?’”

Boothe, along with teammates Ross Hemenway, a senior, and Valencia Loyd, a senior in civil engineering, placed third in the high school curriculum competition with their entry, “Miniature Bridge Design and Testing.” In the middle school division, biological engineering seniors Caleb Dulaney, Darvin Griffin and Erin Hyatt took third place honors with their curriculum “Biological Engineering: It’s not that hard to swallow.”

Each team tested its curriculum in a classroom setting to assess the effectiveness of the program.

“The kids at the Starkville Boy’s and Girl’s Club really enjoyed the project,” Griffin explained. “We helped them build an esophagus from foam pipe, and using gumballs demonstrated the force required to swallow. Then they had the opportunity to work in groups to complete worksheets and discuss what they observed.”

The EESC is an engineering education company, based in Oregon, which specializes in providing products to help K-12 schools teach and share the fun of engineering.

The technical writing course is part of the BCoE’s Shackouls Technical Communication Program. Established in 1999, the program strives to provide all MSU undergraduate engineering majors with necessary tools to effectively communicate their ideas with a variety of audiences.