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NSF Provides UC $9.2 Million Boost for STEM Education in Region

UC has been awarded a $9.2 million National Science Foundation grant to develop and implement courses in partnership with local high schools to improve STEM education. The NSF grant allows the university to continue to provide leadership in engineering and STEM education locally, regionally and state wide.

Date: 9/30/2011 12:00:00 AM
By: Arthur Davies
Phone: (513) 556-9181

UC ingot  

The University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) is leading an interdisciplinary effort on and off the university campus.

That effort, the Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Mathematics and Science Program (CEEMS), reaches beyond UC’s colleges to inspire and educate high school teachers and students from across the region. Completing the UC team for CEEMS are the university’s College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services (CECH) and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded CEEMS $9.2 million for five years. The award is made in two stages, the first three-year funding of $5,324,587 has been approved and the remaining $3,877,805 for the final two years is to be released after a year three review. This makes for a complete project total of $9,202,392 for CEEMS.


Dr. Kukreti
Anant Kukreti, CEAS

CEEMS is a program designed to meet the growing need for engineering-educated teachers. Its goal is to equip teachers with the skills needed to provide students with opportunities to reach and surpass recently revised Ohio State Science Standards in addition to equipping students with a set of universal skills. Anant Kukreti, director of engineering outreach and professor in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science, is the principal investigator (PI) of this project. Kukreti is responsible for the management and design of the overall project at UC and its implementation in tri-state school districts.

“NSF’s grant in support of our CEEMS initiative is one of the largest received by the university this year, and I believe the grant affirms our leadership position in the STEM disciplines,” states UC Provost and Senior Vice President, Santa Jeremy Ono. “Interdisciplinary projects of this scope not only showcase our wide range of excellence, spanning engineering, the sciences and education, but CEEMS also expands access for tri-state teachers and students to our award winning faculty and facilities.”

“Dr. Kukreti and his team are to be complimented on their vision. CEEMS is a significant investment in the region’s future and a major step forward toward realizing our community outreach and education goals as stated in the UC 2019 Master Plan," Ono adds.

Dr. Helen Meyer
Helen Meyer, CECH

The CEEMS leadership team includes Kukreti (CEAS & PI), Eugene Rutz (CEAS & Co-PI), Howard Jackson (A&S and Co-PI), Helen Meyer (CECH & Co-PI), Mary Ronan (Superintendent Cincinnati Public Schools & Co-PI), Thaddeus Fowler (CECH & Senior Personnel), Stephan Pelikan (A&S & Senior Personnel)  and Catherine Maltbie (CECH & Evaluation Coordinator). See a listing of CEEMS participants and projected staffing.

Via CEEMS, UC is the higher education Core Partner working with 14 Core Partner school districts: Cincinnati Public Schools, Oak Hills Local School District, Princeton City Schools, Norwood City Schools, Winton Woods City School District, and the Clermont County STEM Consortium of nine school districts. CEEMS will reach a total of 1,925 teachers who impact 38,500 students from 7th-12th grades over the five years of the grant.  

“It is very exciting to have the time to develop deep connections between three colleges, CEAS, A&S, CECH and their programs and then seeing these extended to area high schools,” states Kukreti.   “CEEMS has the potential to transform both pre-service and in-service teacher education regionally, in the state and nationally.  It starts new initiatives for a dual undergraduate engineering degree with teaching licensure, and teaching licensure for professionals with a STEM undergraduate degree who may be currently working in industry.”

CEEMS provides further education to both pre-service teachers and in-service teachers. The five goals of the engineering-based program are:

  • Improve 7-12 student science and mathematics achievement to prepare for and increase interest in the college study of engineering or other STEM careers.
  • Develop mathematics and science teacher knowledge of engineering and the engineering design and challenge-based instruction process through explicit training and classroom implementation support.
  • Recruit engineering undergraduates as science or mathematics teachers through involvement in teaching experiences with younger college students in the schools and through a defined licensure program.
  • Recruit career changers to science or mathematics teaching through defined licensure programs.
  • Build a collaborative sustainable education licensure STEM degree-granting infrastructure positively impacting the entire region.

CEEMS builds on several efforts already in place within the university's colleges (CEAS, CECH, A&S) and the activities of CECH’s Fusion Center for STEM Education. One primary link is with the Woodrow Wilson Ohio Teaching Fellows (WWOTF) program, an existing collaboration between A&S, CEAS and CECH. The WWOTF program is an initial licensing program for people with degrees in STEM who want to become teachers of math and science. The WWOTF program becomes the backbone of the CEEMS licensure effort.


Dr. Kukreti
Kukreti makes a point to his class.

The new CEEMS program offers teachers four different tracks with eight new courses, including five engineering courses and three science courses. The engineering courses are to be taught through CEAS and the science courses through A&S. See course descriptions.

Teachers can choose from a master's in curriculum and instruction (CI) degree with engineering education (MCIEE) specialization, a summer institute for teachers (SIT),  an education pathway with licensure for engineering (EPLE) majors, and an engineering education pathway for career changers (EEPCC). Each pathway has key courses that are focused on science and engineering, content and design, and challenge based teaching.

“While the overall goal of CEEMS is to train a cadre of middle and high school teachers capable of using engineering as a context to teach math and science, we have also considered the educational goals of their students while designing the program,” says Kukreti.

Kukreti describes the benefits of the program to students: “Through the CEEMS approach, greater numbers of students will pursue STEM disciplines, and we will produce a larger, more highly qualified technical workforce that more closely reflects the demographics of the U.S. as a whole.”  He further states, “It is equally important that the larger body of students in the U.S. be technologically literate so that all students have opportunities to develop the design and problem-solving skills that enable them to be successful in modern society and participate as informed global citizens.”

As an integral part of CEEMS, Helen Meyer, CECH, in collaboration with Maya Israel, CECH, are creating a detailed research agenda to assure project success. Success factors include: program impact on student design decision making, student planning abilities followed by plan implementation, problem solving, organization, teamwork as well as testing for improved math and science scores.

The objective is for CEEMS to have a positive affect on the tri-state by building a collaborative, sustainable, education licensure and degree-granting infrastructure for STEM that fosters innovative and fresh teaching techniques on a continuing basis.