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Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects
times to concepts and skills, including math and science skills, necessary to teach engineering. The committee was able to identify just three programs that offer pre-service education to prepare individuals to teach engineering in K–12 classrooms.
Leveraging its model of in-service professional development, PLTW is working toward “infusing” its K–12 curriculum into teacher-preparation programs at nine university partners that already serve as sites for PLTW in-service summer institutes. The infusion of PLTW coursework into existing teacher-preparation curricula must be carefully planned to ensure that it aligns with state licensing requirements (Rogers, 2008). As of early 2009, fewer than 10 teachers had graduated from the new PLTW-infused programs (Richard Grimsley, Project Lead the Way, personal communication, January 5, 2009).
In contrast to PLTW’s curriculum-focused approach, in 2002 the College of New Jersey (TCNJ) initiated the Math/Science/Technology (M/S/T) interdisciplinary degree program for aspiring elementary school teachers that requires coursework in all four STEM subjects. The program is a collaborative effort by the schools of engineering, education, and science administered by the Department of Technological Studies in the School of Engineering. The 32-credit program (Box 4-1) now has more than 150 graduates and current majors and is one of the fastest growing majors at TCNJ (Karsniz et al., 2007).
Students who matriculate from the M/S/T program appear to have an appropriate background for teaching engineering. Unfortunately, TCNJ does not track the employment histories of its M/S/T graduates who, according to school officials, are in great demand as science and math teachers (John Karsnitz, TCNJ, personal communication, September 20, 2007). So, at least for now, the TCNJ program does not appear to be contributing to the national supply of engineering teachers.
In 2006, Colorado State University in Fort Collins established a joint major in engineering and education. To the committee’s knowledge, this is the only program of its kind in the United States. Students in the program must complete general-education requirements, core engineering requirements, engineering-school electives, and professional education requirements. In the first year, 11 students (70 percent of them female) were enrolled in the program. Graduates will receive an engineering degree and a teaching license (DeMiranda, 2008).
Other models of pre-service engineering education for teachers exist. For example, at Boise State University, students majoring in elementary