You're Hired! Changing Students' Attitudes Towards Engineering
With the growing need for qualified employees in STEM-based careers, it is critical to develop activities for middle and high school students to increase their awareness of opportunities in these areas. With proper design, increasing awareness of STEM-based careers in conjunction with overcoming current stereotypes can lead to a change in attitudes towards these various careers. Researchers at North Dakota State College of Science, along with the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University, have developed 'You're Hired!', a project providing middle and high school students a hands-on, authentic experience in various engineering roles while assessing the change in a student's attitude towards the engineering profession. Project design also incorporates within this engaging STEM experience an opportunity in which students can hone their 21st Century Skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and time management. As students conduct peer and self- Assessments of their 21st Century Skills throughout this project, school administrators are quick to recognize the benefit of implementing a single project that brings both STEM and 21st Century Skills into their districts. Evaluation of the project's success includes a pre-survey and post-survey to determine the impact of the comprehensive project on student's attitudes towards engineering and engineeringrelated careers. 'You're Hired!' is a series of three STEM-based activities, given over the course of a school year, that requires students to work as a 'company' for an entire school day to find a solution to a relevant, present-day problem. At the end of each activity, the students communicate their solution to a community-led boardroom, comprised of school board members, community stakeholders and local industry representatives. The 'You're Hired!' project is designed to immerse students in an authentic real-world experience by incorporating the engineering design process and 21st Century Skills, and to track their progress in these areas throughout the year using peer- And self- Assessments. This research project uses both quantitative and qualitative analysis to analyze the data gathered during the project. The initial findings demonstrate that 'You're Hired!' appears to be effective in increasing the awareness and attitudes of students towards the field of engineering and engineering-related careers. This paper will present the details of the project, the methodology for data collection and analysis, and a discussion of the findings.