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General FAQs

This page features frequently-asked questions of general nature about the program. Prospective applicants may also want to consult the Applicants' FAQs page.

Q: What is the AEGIS RET program about? 
A: The AEGIS RET Program is a joint effort of two universities, namely University of Central Florida (UCF) and Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), in partnership with the Public School Districts of OrangeSeminoleBrevard and Osceola counties in Central Florida. It plans to recruit high school mathematics teachers from the aforementioned counties in years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Participants will be immersed in a summer research experience at the host universities for 6 weeks during summer to develop educational materials, which the participants will utilize and assess in their classrooms during the following academic year.

Q: What is the program's research theme? 
A: The intellectual focus of AEGIS is Signal & Image Processing (SIP), its theoretical foundations and its applications. The significant advances in digital computer technology and integrated-circuit fabrication are the main reasons behind the many advances in SIP over the last 30 years.  Moreover, signals, whether one-dimensional (such as audio) or two-dimensional (such as digital images) and their properties are many times easy to conceptualize. Furthermore, parts of SIP’s theoretical underpinnings can be quite intuitive, when approached and explained appropriately. SIP not only permeates the realm of hi-tech and crosscuts through many scientific and engineering disciplines, but it also directly affects many aspects of everyday life, in which it manifests itself in different forms, shapes and contexts. For example, SIP plays a central role in telecommunications, radar, automatic control/robotics, but also applies to echolocation in the context of marine biology. In the realm of images, we could mention medical imaging, video compression, biometric-based identification, remote sensing and radio-astronomy applications, among many others. However, it is the everyday SIP applications (mostly consumer-related), which everyone can appreciate, especially the younger generations. Prominent examples of such SIP applications are audio equalization used in stereo systems, MP3 audio and HDTV compression, noise-filtering in cellular telephony and software-based image enhancement through software such as Adobe’s Photoshop™, again, to name a few. The immense relevance and importance of SIP with respect to today’s reality makes it an ideal vehicle for conveying the importance of mathematics and science to high school students and create for them the opportunities to acquire new technical and analytical skills through the hands-on exploration of SIP-related real-world applications.

Q: What is the motivation behind the AEGIS RET program?
A: America faces a critical talent gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and is not keeping pace with foreign competition. In the past five years alone, the percentage of U.S. college students receiving STEM degrees has dropped by over 25%. No other intervention can make the difference that a knowledgeable, skillful teacher can make in the learning process (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 1996). But unfortunately, few teachers have both the depth of understanding needed to link math and science concepts to real-life applications, and the required enthusiasm to impart that knowledge effectively. It is evident that high-quality efforts are crucial to the success of systemic and standards-based reform. By developing and deploying a cadre of knowledgeable and enthusiastic mathematics teachers and mentors able to communicate their knowledge and enthusiasm, schools can be places, where students develop important and relevant problem-solving abilities and communication skills, and where inquiry and a sense of excitement for technology, mathematics and science can be nurtured.  The goal of AEGIS is to actively involve high school teachers in engineering research in order to: (i) bring knowledge of engineering and technological innovation in their classrooms, and (ii) experience an authentic research environment, which can then be communicated to their students.

Q: What are the program's main objectives? 
A: The AEGIS RET Program has the following 5 objectives:

  1. To recruit a diverse, talented, high school teacher cohort from counties in the vicinity of UCF and FIT. For 2012, 2013 and 2014 we intend to recruit 12 mathematics teachers, paired together, from high schools in Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties with high ratios of underrepresented student populations. Half of the teachers will be recruited from the Orange and Seminole counties and will be hosted at UCF, while the remaining half will be recruited from the Brevard and Osceola counties and will be hosted at FIT. The fact that these teachers come from four different counties with distinct and varied demographics and characteristics is one of the strengths of this program.
  2. To actively engage the recruited teachers in research within the field of SIP, an area that has been at the frontier of research areas in Electrical & Computer Engineering for decades. We will form a community of learners here in Central Florida, whose nucleus and focus will be the recruited teachers and will be guided by UCF and FIT faculty members and their graduate students. This objective also contributes to the professional development of high school teachers in the four aforementioned counties.
  3. To develop and disseminate to a large audience a series of innovative and replicable secondary teaching unit plans, so teachers successfully transfer the new knowledge that they have attained during the program's summer experience into their classrooms in the fall. The development of unit plans will be aligned with the national and state standards and will emphasize project-based and inquiry-based learning approaches.
  4. To disseminate the results of this effort to other interested stakeholders around the nation. We intend to disseminate the results of our efforts via a variety of outlets, such as theTeachEngineering digital library, organizing special sessions at annual National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) conferences, which are attended by interested stakeholders from around the nation, distributing these results to other teachers through our website, as well as through co-organizing science events at annual Florida Science Olympiads.
  5. To establish a lasting partnership between faculty and teachers in the participating Central Florida counties. AEGIS will constitute the beginning of an active partnership between UCF/FIT researchers and high school teachers from the surrounding counties. In order to sustain and institutionalize this partnership, several avenues will be pursued, most of which will revolve around the aforementioned dissemination efforts and the evaluation of future AEGIS experiences, where former participants will be invited to assist in assessing the project’s success.

Q: Who is sponsoring the AEGIS RET Program? 
A: The program will soon (before summer 2012) become an RET Site sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under its Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site program.

Q: Who are the people behind AEGIS' operations? 
A: The project's staff consists of garduate students and faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering. For more information, please refer to our People page.

Q: Where do I find more information about the AEGIS summer experience? 
A: You may want to refer to our About page, which provides an executive summary of the program. If you are a prospective applicant, please visit our FAQ page for applicants. Finally, if you have more questions, please do not hesitate to Contact us.



Applicants' FAQs

Q: Who is eligible to participate in the AEGIS RET Program?
A: In order to be eligible to apply, a person needs to be:

  1. A citizen or lawful permanent resident of the US.
  2. A high school (grades 9-12) mathematics teacher.
  3. Currently teaching full time in a public school of the Orange, Seminole, Brevard or Osceola county in Central Florida.
  4. Will be teaching high school mathematics for the next school year.

Prospective applicants must fulfill all 4 aforementioned criteria to be considered for participation. Unfortunately, we cannot make any exceptions.

Q: Why should I apply to participate in the program?
A: In our opinion, the main reasons are:

  1. Get exposed to research in Signal and Image Processing (SIP) and to relevant applications. 
  2. Experience the academic and research environment of the two host universities, UCF and FIT.
  3. We will provide you with a stipend to support your participation in the program.
  4. Meet, network, interact and collaborate with colleagues from other schools that share the same passions about mathematics education. Exchange ideas, opinions and approaches to high school mathematics education.
  5. Closely interact and collaborate with graduate students and experienced faculty mentors on SIP research. 
  6. Spice up your mathematics curriculum at your school with the unit plans that you and your fellow AEGIS participants will develop. 
  7. Contribute SIP research-centered unit plan packages to a variety of repositories and share them with the community of fellow mathematics teachers in Florida and around the nation.
  8. Attend national conferences to present your AEGIS efforts and products. We will cover most of your travel expenses.

Q: What does my participation in the program entail?
A: The AEGIS RET Program consists of three main interrelated phases:

  1. Preparatory Phase
    Teacher participants need to attend 2 Saturday workshops before the program's summer experience (see next phase). The workshops' objectives are to (i) get to know each other!(ii) orient the participants on certain basic aspects of the program, (iii) to address various logistics before the summer experience, (iv) provide some basic background on SIP and (v) match teams with research projects. We anticipate that each workshop will last 3-4 hours. 
  2. Summer Research Experience Phase
    The summer experience spans 6 weeks in the months of June and July. Initially, the teacher teams will get exposed to the particulars of their research project. Next, for the most part of the summer experience, teacher teams will closely work with their graduate student and faculty mentors to develop their research project into unit plans. Moreover, every other Friday there will be an all-hands meeting at one of the two campuses in an alternating fashion. During these meetings participants will showcase their progress and interact with each other. Finally, the summer experience's apogee will be the its symposium, which will be held on the last Friday. The symposium will consist of oral and poster presentations by the teams to our advisory board and other stakeholders that we will invite. Overall, in terms of time commitment, we expect teacher participants to spend full days at their host universities during workdays of the summer experience.
  3. Implementation Phase
    After the summer experience, participant teachers will plan for and deliver their developed unit plans to their classrooms. They will also coordinate classroom visits by the program staff to help in the assessment of these unit plans. Finally,  they will attend a Saturday workshop during the new academic year to exchange experiences and discuss the assessment results.  

Please refer to our Calendar to see, when major activities of the first two phases are scheduled. Notice that some of these activities may be labeled as tentatively scheduled, which means that their precise date and time will be fixed at a later time.

Q: What will be my time commitment during the program's summer research experience?
A: As 6 weeks is a rather short time period for the unit plan development we envision, the summer research experience will be relatively intensive. Therefore, teacher participants are expected to be heavily engaged on a daily basis at their host univerity throughout the duration of the experience.  

Q: While being hosted at one of the two universities during the program's summer research experience, am I going be provided with housing?
A: No. AEGIS is a regional RET Site, which means that participants are expected to commute daily to their host university. For that purpose we have allocated travel funds in our budget, which are also meant to cover commuting expenses. 

Q: When is the deadline to apply?
A: Every year the deadline is sometime during spring. For this year's exact application deadline, please refer to our Calendar.  

Q: Where/how do I apply?
A: You can apply online right here on our site. First, register with our website to create an account. Once you are logged in, you will find further instructions.

Q: Do I have to pay a fee to apply or participate?
A: Absolutely not. On the contrary, we will provide you with a stipend for taking part in the program.

Q: What materials are necessary for completing the online application?
A: The application asks you to provide the following materials:

  1. Basic information, such as your name and citizenship status.
  2. Voluntary demographic information about yourself.
  3. Information about your education and experience.
  4. Basic information about your high school school and your current teaching position.
  5. Past, current and future course assignments.
  6. An essay question about your qualifications or past experiences that you believe make you a good candidate for participating.
  7. An essay question about how you think this experience will benefit both you and your students.
  8. An updated version of your curriculum vitae.
  9. A personal Teaching Philosophy statement. 
  10. The name(s) of (a) colleague(s) from the same high school as yours, which may apply to the program too.
  11. Two recommendation letters. One needs to be from your principal or other school/district administrator and the other can be from a colleague, who is not applying to participate in this year's program.

As a reminder, we are looking to recruit, ideally, pairs of mathematics teachers from the same high school. This explains the reason for item 10 in the previous list. Additionally, further details about the aforementioned recommendation letters will be provided, once you access your online application form. 

Q: OK, I have just applied. Now what?
A: After the submission deadline, all applications will be assessed and ranked by reviewers that we will invite. Subsequently, we will then contact the 20 highest ranked applicants via email and interview them. Based on the information we will gather, we will make participation offers. Please refer to our Calendar for the exact date, by which we will make the announcement of this year's participants.    

Q: Based on what criteria are you going to make the selection of the participants?
A: Reviewers will be assessing the potential of each applicant to successfuly participate in all 3 phases of the program and be the most impactful in their classrooms. Some criteria that come to mind are the teacher's level of enthusiasm, interest in research, the ability to synergistically collaborate with other colleagues, teaching philosophy, applied pedagogy in the classroom setting and classroom effectiveness to name a few important ones.

Q: How many participants will you accept into the program?
A: We plan to recruit an average of 12 high school mathematics teachers annually for 2012, 2013 and 2014. Half of them will be hosted at UCF and the other half at FIT.

Q: If I am invited to participate, where will I be hosted?
A: In the online application we give you the option to choose your host university; as a matter of fact, you can even indicate preference for both universities.

Q: If I am invited to participate, I will only be able to join the summer experience until after its start date. Would that be a problem?
A: Unfortunately, yes. The summer experience is on a tight schedule, so we cannot accomodate late starters.

Q: If I am invited to participate, I will have to leave the summer experience earlier than the official end date. Would that be a problem too?
A: Again, yes, since this means you would miss the symposium, which is the summer experience's culmination.

Q: What a shame... I cannot make AEGIS' dates, but I would still like to take part in an RET program. What are my options?
A: There are several RET Sites, like ours, around the nation (even in Florida), if you are willing to travel to them. You can search for them on the Internet. For example, visit, which seems to provide a type of directory for other RET sites. Otherwise, you may want to apply to our program next year after we send out the new call for participation.

Q: I still have questions regarding the Program and / or the application process. Who can I ask?
A: Feel free to contact us. We will be happy to provide you with additional information, if needed.

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