Driftmier Engineering Center

The Driftmier Engineering Center is located at 597 D. W. Brooks Drive in Athens, Georgia. (Photo/Jason Born)

The National Science Foundation has awarded the University of Georgia’s Engineering Education Transformations Institute, which is part of the UGA College of Engineering, a $1 million grant to conduct research in the field of STEM education, according to a UGA Today press release.

The EETI will use the grant to help STEM professors and lecturers in the U.S. examine student learning at universities and colleges. The EETI-led project will focus on STEM programs in the Southeast with large numbers of underrepresented students, according to the release.

“The overarching goal of this project is to expand the community of scholars who have the skills to conduct high-quality, qualitative and mixed methods research in STEM education,” said Joachim Walther, director of UGA’s EETI. “We want to help people move away from trial-and-error and into a more systematic, research-informed process of educational innovation.”

The grant allows for the creation of the EETI’s ProQual Institute, a research initiative dedicated to exploring methods in STEM education and expanding diversity in STEM fields. According to the release, the Institute will engage faculty from Southeast universities and half of its participants from minority-serving institutions.

The EETI is a unit of faculty, staff, engineering education researchers and students within UGA’s College of Engineering seeking to "transform engineering education through building social capital and shared capacity around the scholarship of teaching and learning,” according to the EETI website.

The project is another spoke in the EETI’s goal to create “an active community of professors across the College of Engineering who work together to innovate and better understand education in the context of their engineering programs,” according to the release.

The Institute will also develop weeklong summer and winter programs hosted by UGA and provide support for STEM education researchers, according to the release.

“There have been efforts to increase diversity in STEM disciplines for decades, but the numbers haven’t changed much, so that suggests we need to understand this challenge at a much more fundamental level,” he said.

“We want to create communities of practice that people continually engage with, instead of a one-off event,” Walther said. “We also want people who participate in the summer and winter schools to become resources and change agents in their local settings.

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