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National Science Foundation/Tech-FIT

Advancing Design-related Technological Education: A Three-way Partnership

Start Date: June 1, 2010
Expires: May 31, 2012 (Estimated)
Investigator(s): Karen Pearson (Principal Investigator) & Elaine Maldonado (Co-Principal Investigator)
TECH-FIT Website


This project is designed to better prepare graduates at the college to meet industry demands for the design, development, and manufacture of green and sustainable products such as textiles, toys, home products, cosmetics, and packaging. Through innovative curricula and creative pedagogies, faculty motivate students at the college, eighty-five percent of whom are female, to persist in the study of science and to improve their skills.

Intellectual Merit: The goals of the project are to improve (a) industry-critical science skills of students and 2) teaching effectiveness. The primary audiences are two-year college students and science faculty. The secondary audiences are high school students and science teachers from schools such as the High School of the Fashion Industries that typically send students to the college. The creative talents of students and faculty, scientific invention, and student persistence are being fostered through the following activities: (a) development and implementation of bi-level college and high school science modules jointly developed by college science faculty, high school teachers and industry partners, (b) creation of project-based, green/sustainable introductory science curricula based on industry needs, and (c) design of a new teaching model, guided by research, on how women learn science. Activities are anchored by a strengthened three-way bridge from high school to college to industry, paving a more seamless pathway from pre-college to the workforce.

Broader Impact: Because today's global market requires that all students be well informed in science, including art/design students who go on to make critical decisions in the design, development, and manufacture of products in ecologically sensitive fields, this project is producing an industry-based, green science curricula and a creative faculty development model that addresses the needs of full time as well as part time and off-campus faculty. This new curriculum is being developed to increase the math/science requirements for students because minimal requirements are problematic since today's art/design colleges routinely offer degrees in technical fields that include industrial design, interior design, packaging, toy, textile, cosmetics, fragrance, and home products development. The project also seeks to contribute to increasing the number of women who find business and industry employment in design-related technology. It adds to research on how women and art/design students learn science and contributes to efforts to safeguard the environment and protect the health of citizens. Plans for dissemination expand through the Professional Development Center of the State University of New York, the country's largest public university system.

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