Guiding Implementation of PreK-12 Engineering in the United States

Areas of Interest:


Project Type:


Latest Update: January 20, 2017
Primary Contact: Beth Cady
  • Cary Sneider
    Associate Research Professor
    Portland State University
  • Ashok Agrawal
    Managing Director for Professional Development
    American Society for Engineering Education
  • Steve Barbato
    Executive Director/CEO
    International Technology and Engineering Educators Association
  • Laura Bottomley
    Director of The Engineering Place for K-20 Engineering
    North Carolina State University
  • Christine Cunningham
    Vice President of Research
    Vice President of Research, Boston Museum of Science; Founder and Director, Engineering is Elementary
  • Bonnie Dunbar
    Professor and Director of TEES Institute for Engineering Education and Innovation (IEEI)
    Texas A&M University
  • Maurice Frazier
    Teacher of Communication Technology and Graphic Communications
    Oscar Smith High School, Chesapeake, VA
  • Gayle Gibson
    Director, Engineering
  • Jacqueline Gish
    Director of Advanced Technology
    Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (Ret.)
  • Kris D. Gutiérrez
    Professor of Language, Literacy and Culture
    Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley
  • Eric Jolly
    President and CEO
    Minnesota Philanthropy Partners
  • Linda Kekelis
    Executive Director
    Techbridge (ret.)
  • Matt Krehbiel
    Associate Director, Science, Achieve, Inc.
  • Peter McLaren
    Next Gen Education, LLC
  • Steve O'Brien
    Associate Professor and Chair, Technological Studies Department
    The College of New Jersey
  • Doug Paulson
    STEM Specialist
    Minnesota Department of Education
  • Darryll Pines
    Dean and Nariman Farvardin Professor of Aerospace Engineering
    University of Maryland
  • Stephen Pruitt
    Senior Vice President for Content, Research and Development
    Achieve, Inc.
  • Rick Sandlin
    Martha and Josh Morriss Mathematics & Engineering Elementary School, Texarkana, TX
  • Jacqueline Smalls
    Science Education Manager
    Center for Inspired Teaching
  • Johannes Strobel
    Professor, School of Information Science & Learning Technologies
    University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Ted Willard
    Program Director
    National Science Teachers Association

The goal of this three-year project is to provide guidance to key stakeholders in US K-12 education regarding effective engineering education. The stakeholders include organizations leading development and implementation of the NGSS (i.e., Achieve, Inc. and the National Science Teachers Association [NSTA]); teachers and teacher educators; curriculum and assessment developers; administrative leaders at the school, district, and state level; and educators and program developers working in after- and out-of-school settings.

Achieve, Inc., NSTA, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the International Technology and Engineering Educators Associations are partnering with NAE on the project.

Over the past 10 years, there have been increasing efforts to introduce K-12 students to engineering concepts and practices (see, for example, Engineering in K-12 Education. While attention paid to engineering in K-12 pales in comparison to that focused on mathematics and science education, two recent national-level initiatives—a 2014 assessment of technology and engineering literacy in a sample of 8th grade students and publication of the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS), which include concepts and practices in engineering—suggest engineering will constitute an increasing share of students’ experiences going forward. 

Education research and research in the cognitive sciences is revealing more useful information about the teaching approaches and educational contexts most suited to helping students make connections among the STEM subjects, including the important role engineering design activities can play in this process. And research on pre-service and in-service teacher education is providing insights into how adults can gain both knowledge and confidence needed to teach engineering successfully.

Unfortunately, nowhere have the growing wisdom of practice and the relevant findings from research been collected, organized, and shared in a way that might support more effective implementation of engineering education in K-12. Nor has there been an effective mechanism for building a community of practice among those interested in K-12 engineering—those with expertise as well as novices hoping to gain experience.

To address these needs, this project will conduct an assessment of the concerns of stakeholders regarding the implementation of engineering education at the K-12 level. Using data from the assessment, the project will develop resources and plan appropriate outreach that respond to the identified concerns and needs. The project’s primary product will be a website, which will be developed iteratively based on extensive stakeholder input.