Engineering Success in STEM

Engineering Success in STEM (ESS)

Chaminade Univeristy logo

College of Engineering UH logo

Pacific American Foundation logo

Year: 2013-2016
Funding source: Office of Naval Research
Long-term goal: to increase the number of students from underserved populations to enroll in rigorous science and mathematics courses and ensure their access to STEM-related careers at the professional and technical levels would be realized.

Palolo Pipeline


The Engineering Success in STEM (ESS) is a three-year project (2013-2016) funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to establish the Grades 6-12 component of the Palolo  K-12 engineering  pipeline. The ESS project builds on the accomplishments of two ONR projects (Technology Enhanced Sustainable Aina Project and the Sustaining Engineering Education in the Elementary Schools Project) that infused engineering education into the elementary curriculum. The ESS provides middle and high school teachers with a comprehensive array of professional development supports to design and implement standards-based STEM instructional units that engage students in the engineering design process (EDP). Through the ESS, students will experience a K-12 STEM pathway that connects elementary, middle and high school efforts to teach engineering design principles.


This project was developed because the elementary school students who received engineering education through the ONR-funded Technology Enhanced Sustainable Aina Project (TESAP) and Sustaining Engineering Education in the Elementary Schools (SEEES) Project were moving on to middle and high school.  The elementary teachers believed that the rigorous engineering design challenges they developed and implemented had sparked their students’ interest in STEM, and specifically engineering. Therefore, it was critical that the positive gains made at their schools with the Grades K-5 students be sustained and enhanced at the middle and high school levels.


The engineering design process (EDP) is an iterative cycle of steps that engineers follow to help them come up with a solution to a problem. The EDP serves as the core of this project as a real-world application of STEM learning that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. The EDP model used in this project and the vocabulary to describe the process are consistent from Grades K-12. By consistently having students apply this process, a secondary outcome of this project is to establish the EDP as a “habit of the mind” among the students in the K-12 STEM Pipeline.

Engineering Design Process


The ESS Project invests heavily in human capital development because engineering education and the EDP are content areas and skills which the majority of the teachers had not been taught in their pre-service teacher education programs.

The support provided to the Project Teachers includes:

  • Four facilitated work sessions per year to:
        • Learn about and apply the engineering design process (EDP);
        • Develop and implement STEM instructional units that integrate the EDP and align with the Hawaii Department of Education learning standards;
        • Receive consultative services of engineers (from the University of Hawaii (UH) College of Engineering and the UH STEM Pre-Academy) and curriculum development specialists (from the Pacific American Foundation).
  • Two teacher-directed work days per year for teachers to work on their units with peers and mentors;
  • Funds to purchase supplies to support the implementation of the EDP units developed by the teachers;
  • Funds to provide ground transportation for students and teachers to conduct research and/or implement their design challenge solution.

The objectives of the ESS project are provided below:

  • Increase interest in pursuing STEM-related careers

    Increase and extend the Grades 6-8 Anuenue and Jarrett Middle School students’ interest in pursuing STEM-related careers and sustaining this interest into Kaimuki High School’s STEM Academy. This is done by providing engaging, relevant, and real world engineering design challenges and opportunities to meet and learn from engineers and technicians.

  • Partner with universities

    Partner with the University of Hawaii’s College of Engineering in the development of a comprehensive series of engineering education professional development sessions for middle school and STEM Academy educators which includes mentoring of the teachers and students by U.S. Navy personnel, and UH College of Engineering personnel and students.

  • Teachers professional developments

    Increase teachers’ knowledge of the engineering design process and enable the development of comprehensive, integrated, standards-based instructional units for the middle and high school which engage students in the rigorous application of the engineering design process, and the development of creative solutions.

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