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Executive Summary


The AEGIS RET Program is a partnership between University of Central Florida (UCF), the second largest University in the nation, located in Orlando, Florida, a small private university, the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), located in Melbourne, Florida, and the Public School Districts of Orange,SeminoleBrevard and Osceola counties in Central Florida. The effort is anticipated to be funded for 3 years (Spring 2012 through Fall 2014) by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under its Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Site program via a grant of $262,500 for UCF and a grant of $225,000 for FIT. The program will be one of 8 proposals to be funded by the NSF out of 56 total proposal submissions in 2012 (14% funding rate). 

According to NSF, its RET Site program “... supports the active involvement of K-12 science, technology, engineering, computer and information science, and mathematics (STEM) teachers and community college faculty in engineering and computer science research in order to bring knowledge of engineering, computer science, and technological innovation into their classrooms. The goal is to help build long-term collaborative partnerships between K-12 STEM teachers, community college faculty, and the NSF university research community by involving the teachers and community college faculty in engineering and computer science research and helping them translate their research experiences and new knowledge into classroom activities.

The AEGIS RET Program’s intellectual focus is the field of Signal and Image Processing (SIP), one of the perennially and popular electrical engineering fields. The SIP field, because of its many, every day, engaging applications, is an ideal medium to convey important mathematics and science concepts to teachers and K-12 students.

The program’s first objective is to recruit a diverse, motivated and talented cohort of 12 high school mathematics teachers per year from 4 Central Florida counties, namely Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole, all of which have high percentages (some more than 60%) of under-represented student and teacher populations. Next, it aims to actively engage the RET teacher cohort in research within the field of SIP. Their immersion starts through a series of orientation workshops in the beginning of May, which is then followed up by a rewarding 6-week summer research experience during the months of June and July. Research will be conducted by teams consisting of 2 teachers, which will be closely advised by a faculty mentor and a graduate student mentor. Each of the universities will host 3 teams (6 teachers). The goal of each team will be to work on a particular SIP research topic and, based on the obtained research outcomes, to develop a collection of unit plans. These plans will allow for easy replication by other high school mathematics teachers nationwide to effectively transfer the relevant engineering knowledge and technological innovations. The RET teachers’ post-summer activities entail the classroom delivery of the produced unit plans and the plans’ refinement through a carefully designed assessment and evaluation mechanism. Additional follow-up plans include the involvement of prior years’ RET teachers in future activities of the program, participation in annual science events, such as the Florida Science Olympiad (FSO; annually held at UCF) and the Science Olympiad (SO) and participation in the National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) annual conference.

In terms of projected broader impacts, the AEGIS RET Program will directly influence a total of 39 teachers coming from counties with high percentages of underrepresented groups. Each teacher is projected to impact 150 of these students annually. Overall, the program expects to affect the attitudes, knowledge, and confidence of these RET teachers, some of which will become the nucleus of a lasting partnership between the program’s faculty and teachers from K-12 institutions. The project will also positively affect additional teachers outside the RET cohort as these stakeholders get exposed to the developed unit plans at the program’s symposium, the NSTA conference, the FSO, which attracts 1,500 students and their teachers annually, the SO, which attracts thousands of K-12 students and their teachers, and through the program’s website. Finally, the program also expects the RET teacher participants to communicate the importance of STEM post-secondary education to their students using the developed unit plans, thus, contributing to an increase in K-12 student interest in STEM disciplines, which is a matter of national priority.

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