Last year, researchers and librarians at both Drexel University and the University of Maryland initiated similar collaborative projects in their respective institutions to contribute to the development of life-long learning skills among the select participants. One joint finding was the importance of linking advances in knowledge, not just as hypothetical learning that benefits an elite few, but rather for the advancement of our society as a whole. Drexel University has two NSF-supported programs, Research Experience for Teachers (RET) and the Research Experience for Undergraduates Site (REU) DREAM (Drexel Research Experience in Advanced Materials). RET’s primary goal is to provide experiential engineering education to K-12 teachers in the Delaware Valley. DREAM hosts undergraduates from around the country to work closely with faculty and graduate students in cutting-edge research areas, such as biomaterials, nanomaterials, and the design and processing of advanced materials. In both these programs, the participants learned different skills. For example, in the RET program, participating teachers developed skills that would help them to find, apply for, and secure funding for their schools to improve their classrooms and laboratories. RET participants also worked with their faculty mentors on research projects in emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information technology. The library staff played a key role in helping participants in both programs develop crucial information seeking skills to obtain, evaluate, and use needed research material through a variety of information sources. The RET program helps teachers create opportunities to enhance the delivery of science and math education at their schools by helping their students and colleagues learn about science and technology careers and academic opportunities. It is projected that such awareness will motivate more high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Participants from the DREAM project may, with the research skills gained, continue with more sophisticated research in new and emerging technology areas after going back to their respective institutions. The program provides possibilities for further collaboration with Drexel researchers. With similar goals, the University of Maryland’s (UM) NSF-funded Gemstone Program focuses on teams of Undergraduate Honors Students that “conduct significant research exploring the interdependence of science and technology with society.” This unique, four year, multidisciplinary research program has received significant assistance since 1996 from many UM Librarians in teaching these students critical information-seeking skills for their topical projects and in their senior theses. Moreover, three UM faculty members created the ESTEEM (Engineering Science and Technology to Energize and Expand Young Minds) Research Mentoring Program that offers high school seniors a chance to be directly involved in university engineering research. Additionally, there are other programs such as Exploring Engineering, Women in Engineering, Stepping Stones to Your Future, and a Girl Scout Engineering Saturday where Girl Scout troops (ages 7-12) engage in fun, hands-on engineering related activities. This paper describes how faculty, engineering librarians, and organizers from the two universities work together to enhance the success of programs for a diverse user population. The long-term goal is to have knowledge as we know it used for the overall betterment of society in general. This paper describes how faculty and engineering librarians at both Drexel University and the University of Maryland developed similar collaborative projects in their respective institutions to contribute to the development of life-long learning skills among their diverse user groups
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