Elizabeth A. Parry - Coordinator, The Engineering Place

Ms. Elizabeth Parry is recognized as a Presidential Awardee for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring for her work that has included personal mentoring, tiered mentoring, and teacher professional development, and its impact on K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students who are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Following graduation from the University of Missouri, Rolla in 1983, Ms. Parry went to work for IBM in Charlotte, North Carolina. After her children started school, she realized a need to bring hands-on science instruction to K-12 classrooms. Her passion for engineering led her to a simple fact: If students are never exposed to STEM in an engaging and integrated way, they are unlikely to pursue careers in those fields.

That vision led her and another engineer to start the Science Surround program and for the next eight years they brought science and engineering to thousands of children through classroom visits, assemblies and summer camps. In 1999, she joined the newly formed K-12 Outreach group of North Carolina State University‘s (NCSU) College of Engineering and since then she has focused her efforts on students from underrepresented groups, including those from high poverty homes.

In 2003, she and two colleagues received grants from both the General Electric Foundation and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Fellows in K-12 Education program to begin the RAMP-UP (Recognizing Accelerated Math Potential in Underrepresented People) program. To date, 54 undergraduate and graduate students have been mentored through the program.

As Project Director/Co-PI she established an effective tiered mentoring system involving graduate students, undergraduates, K-12 students, parents and teachers. Several of the practices developed under RAMP-UP are sustained at NCSU today and are the model for similar programs elsewhere.

Ms. Parry’s teacher professional development was designed to equip teachers in K-12, particularly K-5, to be more confident about their ability to use engineering design as a pedagogical approach and to integrate other core subjects using it.

Through the mentoring efforts over the past twenty years, Ms. Parry has reached 150 K-12 teachers, nearly 85 undergraduate and graduate students, and through their efforts has touched the learning lives of approximately 15,000 K-12 students over the last 15 years.

Her affiliations and activities include:
• founding member and current Chair of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) K-12 and Precollege Division, an 800 member group of university researchers, industry engineers, and K-12 teachers;
• member of the Board of Directors of the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education;
• co-author of over 35 papers on research and practice in K-12 engineering education, increasing the participation of
minorities in STEM, and student retention issues; and
• co-author of the book, Teaching Engineering Made Easy2