About ERC Education Programs

Education is a central pillar of each ERC. ERCs provide engineering students with wide-ranging cross-disciplinary research and education experiences. An ERC gives a student the opportunity to build technical depth, research complex systems, integrate knowledge from other fields to advance technology, lead and work in teams, and hone communication, innovation, and entrepreneurial skills-- all prerequisites to effective engineering practice and creative and innovative leadership. Because of this culture, ERC students are highly sought after by industry and academe.

A vital part of ERC education programs are outreach efforts to bring engineering concepts to pre-college classrooms, with the aim of attracting students to engineering and STEM careers.

Dedicated senior faculty members and staff lead these university education and pre-college programs. Strategic planning of the education programs is an integral part of overall Center planning and management. This practice helps to ensure the thorough integration of research and education that is a key feature of ERCs.

The Centers have pioneered many innovative programs to leverage the strong aspects of ERC research and education not only into the engineering schools, but also out into the wider educational system. An excellent example is the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science program, which was developed by ERCs and was the foundation for NSF’s RET Site program. The purpose of these programs is to bring K-12 science, technology, engineering, computer science, and mathematics (STEM) teachers and community college faculty to an ERC in the summer to work in the ERC’s laboratories to strengthen their knowledge of engineering and to return to their classroom with course materials that will bring engineering knowledge and constructs to their students. Each ERC is required to run its own RET program and is strongly encouraged to also compete in the broader RET Site Program. In addition, each ERC offers outreach programs to involve talented high school students in the ERC’s labs, especially through the research-focused ERC Young Scholars Program.

Each ERC also runs its own Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program to engage students from non-ERC universities and colleges in ERC research activities during the summer, working alongside ERC researchers and students.

Bringing greater diversity and broadening participation into the engineering workforce is an imperative for the continuing strength of the U.S. economy. Each ERC has a strategic plan for developing a climate of inclusion and success for all students—pre-college as we as university—through special efforts focused on attracting and retaining diverse students to engineering and using the ERC culture to improve their retention in engineering. Every center has a faculty or staff member who is responsible for its diversity programs.

The links below lead to detailed descriptions of the education programs and achievements at individual ERCs. 



Please also visit the website of the American Society for Engineering Education to learn about many opportunities in engineering education.

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