Electrifying a New Generation of Engineers

Posted on October 23, 2008  Comments (0)

Electrifying a New Generation of Engineers

Ybarra’s K-12 education efforts began informally in 1993 while he was a newly arrived professor at Duke, toting lasers and other captivating bits of engineering equipment to local schools to drum up excitement for science and engineering and an array of programs grew from there.

Based on his growing awareness of the value of hands-on learning, Ybarra was longing for a way to help get more hands-on learning into the classroom. A few years later, in 1999, he was able to secure his first significant grant in the area. With support from the National Science Foundation Ybarra formalized his interactions with local schools by establishing a fellowship program that would put Duke engineering students in the classrooms to vastly expand the number of schools impacted.

To date, Ybarra’s programs have impacted more than 150,000 kids, and with so many programs now in place and spreading, that number increases by about 50,000 students per year. But personal stories, rather than numbers, are what Ybarra finds most gratifying. “When students contact me years later to tell me that the experiences they had in my programs inspired them to pursue a career in engineering or one of the sciences, it gives me a very deep sense of satisfaction.”

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