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Vanderbilt University Engineering Design Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Program

Who? Individuals or teams of Middle Tennessee High School STEM Teachers and pre-service STEM teachers.  We have a specific need for computer science teachers this year.

When? June 4 - July 13, 2012, & Summer 2013 (pending additional NSF Funding)

Where? Vanderbilt University School of Engineering


  • Give teachers an engineering design experience 
  • Engage the teachers in meaningful research experiences
  • Increase the participants' and their students' understanding of the nature of engineering
  • Help teachers take their research and design experiences back to the their classrooms
  • Disseminate instructional materials created by the RET participants
  • Create long-lasting relationships between the university and the participants


What? For each of two summers (pending additional funding), the participant will be given a three-day summary of the program and overviews of engineering as a whole, engineering design in particular, and what it means to do research. Teachers will then be introduced to the How People Learn framework and the Legacy Cycle method of instruction. Teachers will be trained in one of the twelve modules that has already been developed and field-tested. This training will include participating in the module as a “student” and then reflecting back on how best to teach that material. Following this orientation, participants will be paired with faculty members and research groups. Teachers will spend twenty-three days working with an engineer in his or her lab on a research project designed for them as a part of a team. All research topics will represent at least a portion of the engineering design process. The summer portion of the RET site program will conclude with each teacher designing a Legacy Cycle unit of instruction based on his or her research for implementation in their home classroom.

Why? Teachers and professors will have an opportunity to increase their own knowledge in their area of specialty as well as to learn more about the application of science, technology, and math through research in engineering.  In accordance with new national and state standards, the engineering design process will be stressed throughout the program.

How to Apply: While not required, teams of teacher applicants are preferred.  Computer science teachers particularly needed. Complete the application and submit by Feb 24, 2012. Early applications are encouraged.  Applications may be mailed, e-mailed to Dr. Klein-Gardner, or faxed to 615-343-7919 with an appropriate cover sheet.  Please note that this fax number is incorrect on the other application materials.

Cost: None to the teacher. In-service teachers will be paid a stipend of $5800 per summer for full participation in the project. Pre-service teachers will be paid a total of $3200. Equipment and supplies moneys are available to each teacher.

Questions? Contact program director, Dr. Stacy Klein-Gardner. She can be reached by e-mail at

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