NYU Tandon to Embed NYC Teachers in Industry to Help Them Become Engineering Career Advocates

National Science Foundation-Sponsored STEM Program Aims to Educate the Next Generation of Tech Innovators

NYC teachers working on a project

A pioneering summer training program that brings New York City middle and high school teachers into the research laboratories of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering will add hands-on industry experience at major businesses next year, enabling the educators of the next generation of technology workers to teach engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship from a firsthand perspective.

Since 2003, NYU Tandon’s popular Science and Mechatronics Aided Research for Teachers (SMART) program has teamed city teachers with university faculty and graduate students for advanced STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workshops, advanced research on robotics, and most recently a practical introduction to entrepreneurship.

But next year, a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will augment the entrepreneurship experience by adding a weeklong experience at an industry sponsor. Atair Aerospace, Con Edison, Final Frontier Design, Honeybee Robotics, the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, Parallax, the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Langone, and SparkFun are among the businesses that will host teachers.

“Teachers will return to their respective schools capable of integrating project-based learning in their science and math curriculum; enhancing labs by integrating real-world technology used by scientists and engineers; and applying their authentic understanding of the engineering workforce to improve their students’ awareness of STEM career opportunities,” said Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Vikram Kapila, who founded SMART.

Other elements of the summer program will include two weeks in NYU Tandon’s Mechatronics Lab and four weeks in a laboratory geared to a specific area such as wearable robotic exoskeletons, microfluidic biosensing, or marine robotics. The program helps fulfill NYU Tandon’s pledge to the White House to educate 500 teachers and positively impact 50,000 public school students throughout New York City in the coming decade. It provided a foundation for STEMNow, which annually brings 1,000 K-12 students, teachers, college instructors, as well as students and faculty of NYU Tandon to campus each summer for immersive and engaging STEM programming.

The new NSF grant of $600,000 over three years will include funds to pay 30 participating teachers for their six-week-long commitment.

“Robotics has proven to be great motivator for K-12 students to study STEM disciplines,” said John Cherniavsky, senior advisor for research at the National Science Foundation’s Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. “Providing authentic robotics professional development for teachers is an excellent way of ensuring that their students have high quality robotics instruction.”

Kapila and Jennifer Listman of the NYU Tandon Center for K12 STEM Education are principal investigators for the NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) Site project. The Center for K12 STEM Education runs one of New York City’s most in-depth teacher professional development programs, and NYU Tandon — with its trio of highly regarded business incubators — is known for its strong focus on entrepreneurship.

Tandon was one of the first schools in the nation funded by the NSF to develop teachers’ STEM skills through its RET initiative. Since then, under an array of programs, the school has brought more than 300 teachers to campus to work alongside faculty and NYU students to build an ecosystem of support for high-quality, authentic STEM learning that is widely recognized by funders and participants alike. In addition to mechatronics, Tandon is home to an NSF RET Site involving cybersecurity.

“We are excited to bring together engineers and teachers to inspire New York City students to explore the excitement of STEM education,” said NYU Tandon Dean Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “From this encounter, teachers will come away with a broader understanding of the many exciting careers that engineering offers their students and gain new insight into the educational curriculum their students will need. We thank the NSF and our industry partners for helping us raise awareness about the great societal benefits that engineers create.”

Applications will be accepted beginning in early 2017. Program and registration details will be available this autumn at  http://engineering.nyu.edu/mechatronics/smart and http://engineering.nyu.edu/k12stem/educators.

Note: Images available at http://dam.poly.edu/?c=1758&k=ef6a5766ca

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to programs at its main campus in downtown Brooklyn, it is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, and it operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.