An Exploratory Study Pinpointing the Factors That Influence Native Americans Interests and Aspirations for Engineering Faculty Positions

Native Americans are underrepresented in engineering fields. Engineering faculty are important in order to attract and retain students in engineering because they provide positive socio-cultural experiences, role modeling, mentorship, and inclusive learning environments that reduce isolation. However, very little is known about the factors that promote Native Americans’ aspirations and persistence as engineering faculty members. This study explores those factors in order to answer the question: “Why do Native Americans go into and stay in the engineering faculty?”

This project recruits Native American engineering undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty to capture current and retrospective perceptions of their journey toward and participation in the engineering professorate. The overall objectives of this project are: (1) to conduct an exploratory pilot study of hypothesized factors and the linkages among them in several samples of Native American engineering students and faculty, including participants from Oklahoma, Minnesota, and members of the American Indian and Science and Engineering Society (AISES), and (2) to develop methods and materials in preparation for subsequent cross-sectional and longitudinal work. This is a collaborative project with researchers at the University of Minnesota.

Project Sponsor: National Science Foundation (EAGER EEC#-1743572;
Principal Investigator: Sue C. Jacobs, PI
Project Personnel: Nicole M. Colston, Senior Personnel
Sarah Johnson, Researcher
Juliana Utley, Evaluation

Project Lead the Way and Persistence in Engineering Degrees

The need for increasing the number of engineers in the US and with the push for increasing the exposure to engineering concepts at the K-12 level has led to curriculum such as Project Lead the Way.  This study will aid the educational entities such as colleges of education and engineering in their work with and support of these types of pre-engineering programs.  The purpose of the project is to conduct a transcript study that compares the persistence and completion of entering Engineering majors at OSU based on whether they participated in Project Lead the Way (PLTW) in high school.  The research questions guiding the study are:

1.     Do undergraduate majors who declare a major in a field of engineering persist at a higher rate from their freshmen year into their sophomore year if they participated in Project Lead the Way in high school?
2.     Do undergraduate majors who declare a major in a field of engineering persist at a higher rate to complete a degree in engineering if they participated in Project Lead the Way in high school?

PLTW is a growing program across the nation but little is known of the impact of this program on persistence in majoring in a STEM field beyond their first semester nor if the completion rates of students who participate in a pre-engineering program prior to coming to a university would increase degree completion rates. 

Project Sponsor: 
Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation  (hyperlink to:

Principal Investigators:
Juliana Utley, PI
Toni Ivey, Co-PI
Mary Jo Self, Co-PI

Project Personnel:
Travis Mukina, GRA
Kelsey Koblitz, GRA
Anna Hwang, GRA

OSU Teachers that Dream, Design, Build, Learn about, and Teach Aviation

The OSU Teachers that Dream, Design, Build, Learn about, and Teach Aviation will be a 5 phase program to give hands-on aerospace experience to teachers and undergraduate students, which will motivate and prepare future STEM majors for the industry. This program will have a two-fold mission by (1) providing aerospace/aviation education and career information to current and future K-12 teachers, high school students and undergraduate students participating in Speedfest and (2) through exposing grade 3-8 students to aerospace/aviation education and career information through in-class curriculum units.  Additionally, this program will provide leadership for current OSU aerospace engineering students and advancing their soft skills for use in their professional careers. 

Overall, this program will impact current teachers in Oklahoma, pre-service teachers, college students, high-school students and grades 3-8 students. Specific objectives include the following:

Objective 1:   For Grades 3-8 teachers and OSUTeach preservice students to dream, design and build a RC aircraft; learn about the principals of flight, aerodynamics, and flight planning; and teach an aviation/aerospace unit in their classroom.

Objective 2: To have teachers experience flying and aviation careers which can be translated into specific lessons within their Grades 3-8 classrooms. 

Project Sponsor: 
Boeing Foundation

Principal Investigators:
Juliana Utley, PI
Steve Marks, Co-PI

Project Personnel:
Matthew Brotherton, GRA

Oklahoma State University (OSU) Mathematics and Science Robert Noyce Scholarship

The number of STEM jobs in the US has continued to grow over the past several decades, but the availability of qualified STEM workers in the US has failed to meet this growing demand. Therefore, increasing the number, quality, and diversity of mathematics and science secondary teachers has been identified as critical to future US economic growth and success. In response to this call for action, the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Mathematics and Science Robert Noyce Scholarship program in collaboration with Stillwater Public Schools will produce sixty highly qualified mathematics and science secondary teachers by encouraging students to earn teacher certification with their 4-year B.S. degree in mathematics or science. This goal will be accomplished by 1) encouraging undergraduates majoring in mathematics or science to become teachers through summer recruitment internships and recruitment scholarships, 2) providing need-based scholarships aimed at retention and persistence during the semester of student teaching, and 3) supporting students as they progress through their first several years of teaching. 

Project Sponsor: 
National Science Foundation (link here:

Principal Investigators:
Juliana Utley, PI
Kristen Baum, Co-PI
Toni Ivey, Co-PI
Alan Noell, Co-PI

Project Personnel:
John Weaver, Clinical Instructor
Amy Olson, Clinical Instructor
Drew Gossen, GRA