Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Frank Bowman


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. As part of this research project I have developed `You're Hired!', a program 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 an opportunity in which students can hone their 21st Century Skills such as collaboration, critical thinking and time management, also known as engineering mindset or workforce skills.

`You're Hired!' is a series of three STEM-based projects, 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 project, 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!' program is designed to immerse students in an authentic real-world experience that incorporates the engineering design process and 21st Century Skills. The program also tracks student progress in these areas throughout the year using peer- and self-assessments.

This research project used both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods to measure the impact of the `You're Hired!' program. The methodology includes comparing a control group to an experimental group to further understand the benefit of the program. Other factors, such as gender and school setting, were also analyzed to determine program impact. The results of the statistical analysis show there is a significant difference in the change in a student's attitude toward engineering when participating in the program.