A new agreement between UTC, TechTown and the Howard School will directly benefit UTC students.
The goal of the two-year partnership is to enhance programs at Howard that focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Students from UTC’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Health, Education and Professional Studies will help conduct some of the programs.
“We are working on using Howard as one of our field placement sites for a few of our STEM courses,” says Dr. Jennifer T. Ellis, STEM director in UTC’s School of Education.
“We at the UTC College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) are delighted about this exciting new partnership with Chattanooga’s Howard High School,” says Julie David, director
of the Center for Student Success in the college.
“Importantly, UTC, CECS and TechTown are concurrently in the process of developing a three-year National Science Foundation grant proposal, led by our own Dr. Nesli Alp, which aims to improve our understanding of motivations under-represented high school students have in pursuing STEM careers,” she says.
Howard has an engineering lab, known as an eLab, with computers, 3-D printers, robotic equipment and other tools “so partnering with them is key in preparing our students to be true STEM teachers,” she says.
Faculty and students from UTC will visit Howard to discuss STEM careers, present ways in which Howard students can collaborate with UTC programs and review Howard’s current robotics curriculum. They also will help evaluate how Howard students respond to the STEM programs.
Chris Earl, principal at Howard, saw the value of STEM-related projects such as robotics while working at his previous school in Columbia, S.C.
“It promotes critical thinking, higher-level thinking,” he says, a plus for students whether they head for college or straight into a career after high school.
The new technological programs at Howard not only may lead to improved academics and higher SAT scores at the school, Earl says, they could convince some students to think about a career in engineering even if they’d never considered it.
“I look for forward to our ninth-graders spending four years at Howard then enrolling at UTC in engineering,” he says.
TechTown has been in a partnership with Howard for the past three years, bringing STEM-related programs to the school, says Chris Ramsey, CEO of the organization, a local learning center that offers hands-on technology programs for teachers and students in second- through 12th grades. By working with Howard students, UTC will “show them what is possible” with engineering, he says. “It’s a recruitment pathway.”
On its end, Howard is required to develop a robotics curriculum, monitor its progress and provide teachers for various STEM classes.
All three groups will work together to apply for STEM-related grants.