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ISE presents twice at the 5th Annual Engagement and Outreach Conference

This October, Industrial and Systems Engineering Department representatives Laura Knight, Assistant Professor of Practice, and Jessie Wilson, Student Ambassador and IISE Vice-President, presented at the 5th Annual Engagement and Outreach Conference, themed “Community Engagement: Strategies, Solutions, and Impact”.  The conference was hosted by The University of Tennessee’s Office of Community Engagement and Outreach (OCEO).  The OCEO provides resources and support to more deeply integrate community engagement with its land-grant mission of teaching, research, and public engagement. OCEO also facilitates hundreds of connections between faculty, staff, students, and community partners, and the conference highlighted mutually beneficial partnerships and the positive impacts of community-engaged work while sharing strategies and solutions for sustainable partnerships.


Laura and Jessie kicked off the lightning round with a project entitled “L.I.K.E. & Subscribe Boxes – Let’s Interest Kids in Engineering”.  The project was funded by the OCEO and was developed in conjunction with Drs. Anne Skutnik, Director of Student Success, and Betsy Chesnutt, Engineering Fundamentals Lecturer. Jessie and Laura presented the methodology behind the subscription boxes, and how the group achieved the goal to provide self-contained lessons and supplies to distant educational partners to support their STEM enrichment.  The group successfully delivered two complete activities, with student and teacher packets, all supplies, and vehicles to support feedback on the program to middle schools and UTIA Extension/4-H partners in Oak Ridge, Gatlinburg, and central and west Tennessee. The program is a pilot program testing a tool to be used to reach additional education partners and support faculty research efforts to connect with community and broaden participation in STEM fields.


As part of the symposia presentations, outreach leaders from Tickle College of Engineering presented “The Evolution of Engineering Outreach from Silos to Systems”, which described the continuing efforts and successes of the Student Success Advisory Board Outreach Committee. Presenters with Professor Knight were Drs. Skutnik and Chesnutt, and Jessica Jeffers, Honors Coordinator for Cook Grand Challenge Honors Program. The team reviewed the challenges, history, and driving philosophy for the committee, and how their innovative method of approaching outreach and community engagement through building group synergies is leading to greater involvement, stronger partnerships, and increased interest in STEM, especially engineering, on a wider scale than previously achievable as individuals.