Latest JTMAE Posting Focuses on Robotics Competitions Promoting STEM Education in Economically Distressed Areas

ATMAE Members, Dr. Brad Deken and Mr. John Dudley at Southeast Missouri State University and Dr. Doug Koch at University of Central Missouri, studied the effect of STEM education exposure on K-12 students through robotics competitions. They found that students who were exposed to STEM Education were more likely to pick STEM majors in college.

Ann Arbor, MI July 30, 2013

In November, 2009, the White House called for an increased awareness and focus on developing STEM Education at all levels of education. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is required for today's technologically innovative manufacturing sector. These are highly paid and highly rewarding jobs that will help drive the national economy in the future. This month, the ATMAE Journal of Technology, Management, and Applied Enginnering (JTMAE) highlights Innoviative STEM teaching methods.

To increase STEM education at the Post Secondary levels, ATMAE members (Dr. Brad Deken and Mr. John Dudley from Southeast Missouri State University, and Dr. Doug Koch from University of Central Missouri) received a grant from the federal Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) Fund to show that in economically distressed areas, robotics competitions could be used to promote STEM education. Southeast Missouri has chronically high unemployment (33.3% compared to 12.3% nationwide) and low education (50% compared to 19.8% nationwide). While there were robotics competitions in the state, nothing comparable existed in the local communities.

The team decided to use the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition. "The purpose of this program is to build science, engineering and technology skills; inspire innovation; foster self-confidence, and leadership, and to have fun," the team said in the abstract. The Grant allowed them to recruit schools, train mentors and coaches, recruit students and develop the competition.

The survey at the end of competition showed that it had an impact on the students. Seventy percent of the participating students had decided on a college major. The majors they chose: 26% chose engineering, 15% said technology, 12% said science, 2% said math, and 17% chose multiple majors. A full 43% said that the competition influenced their decision.

This project will have a long lasting impact on the economy of this region. The students who went through the first year will learn the skills to be innovative leaders in STEM fields. The study also showed that a high majority of the students will participate in the event in the future, allowing more students to participate, creating a sustainable flow of students exposed to STEM. The program helped the students learn skills that are highly desirable by businesses, but not easily taught in a classroom setting, such as teamwork, developing a work ethic, and project management skills.

The JTMAE publishes peer-refereed scholarly articles involving research and applications, along with non-refereed informational articles. Our audience is Technology, Technology Management, and Applied Engineering faculty, students and professionals in both industry and academia. It is produced by the Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE).

The Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE) is an international organization that sets standards for academic program accreditation, personal certification, and professional development for educators and industry professionals involved in integrating technology, leadership and design. For more information, visit our website at

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