Virginia Tech is the recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Faculty Community Engagement Award, given by the Engagement Scholarship Consortium. The award recognizes a higher education institution's exemplary contributions to engaged scholarship.

Virginia Tech was selected based on efforts to build community capacity for integrating engineering in rural middle school science classrooms, following a nationwide selection process. The project is facilitated by the Virginia Tech Partnering with Educators and Engineers in Rural Schools, or VTPEERS. VTPEERS is an applied research program that facilitates partnerships among middle school teachers, local industry partners, and researchers from the College of Engineering Department of Engineering Education to design, run, and study hands-on activities in middle school science classrooms in rural Appalachia. Learn more about VTPEERS in this article in the January 2020 issue of Journal of STEM Outreach and this feature in the Spring 2020 issue of the Virginia Tech Engineer.

Virginia Tech researchers and project team members, from left: Holly Matusovich, Justine Brantley, Tawni Paradise, Holly Lesko, Malle Schilling, and Jacob Grohs.

VTPEERS is currently in its third year, supported by funding from the National Science Foundation. Since 2017, VTPEERS has engaged more than 1,800 students in seven schools in Smyth, Bedford and Giles counties. Jacob Grohs, associate professor in the Department of Engineering Education, serves as principal investigator for the project. 

The Engagement Scholarship Consortium is "an organization composed of higher education institutions that work collaboratively to build strong university-community partnerships anchored in the rigor of scholarship."

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1657263. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
All photos were taken prior to school closures.
Photos by Peter Means.