Announcing the 2021 O&E Incentive Grants Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 Outreach and Engagement Incentive Grants Program Award Winners!

The Outreach and Engagement Incentive Grants Program serves to address significant community challenges by aligning interdisciplinary faculty, their expertise, their students, and their research. The incentive grants connect NC State faculty to applied scholarship opportunities in communities, stimulating interdisciplinary proposals to compete for funding that will foster innovation between faculty, staff, students, and community partners and help kickstart potential future research and programming.

The 2021 Incentive Grants Awarded proposals will receive $10,000 each to support work through June 2022. The three Incentive Grants Awardees are listed below with a brief description of their proposals.


Evaluating the Mathematics/Science Education Network (EvalMSEN)

Callie Edwards, Ph.D. (Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, Braska Williams (North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network Pre-College Program), and Lam Pham, Ph.D. (Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development, College of Education)

The North Carolina Mathematics and Science Education Network Pre-College Program (NC-MSEN PCP) at NC State is a STEM enrichment program designed to increase the number of historically underserved students graduating from high school who are prepared to pursue majors in STEM or STEM education. While the NC-MSEN PCP has operated in Wake County Schools for over three decades, previous evaluations of the program have not examined long-term post-secondary student outcomes nor provided rigorous evidence of efficacy. Acknowledging the need for a comprehensive and rigorous investigation of the long-term post-secondary student outcomes of past participants, we will partner with the program and the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) to conduct a retrospective evaluation study, Evaluating the Mathematics/Science Education Network (EvalMSEN). This study will serve as a preliminary analysis and proof of concept that the data will support our proposed analytic strategy. We will then build on this study to submit a larger, mixed methods evaluation for external funding.

The goals of EvalMSEN are to (1) study long-term post-secondary outcomes for MSEN students including effects of the MSEN program on college matriculation, degree completion, and choice of STEM major, (2) study the effects of mediators – or variables that might explain any positive effects of the program – such as students’ high school course taking patterns, and (3) study any moderating effect of gender – that is, whether the effect of program participation on post-secondary outcomes will be stronger for female or male students. 


Engaging Private Well Users and Wake County’s Groundwater Well Program To  Understand How HRMS Technology Can Benefit Public Health 

Elizabeth Guthrie Nichols, Ph.D. (Department of Forest and Environmental Resources)
Louie Rivers, Ph.D. (Department of Forest and Environmental Resources)

The adoption of new water sensor technologies potentially heralds impactful gains to protect human health, but there are significant knowledge gaps in how innovative sensors and their data are understood and used by private and public sectors. This proposal seeks funding to integrate a risk governance/responsible innovation framework (RG/RIF) to a recently funded pilot testing of a diagnostic groundwater contaminant technology for private well users in Wake County.

Using applications of social science theories and methods, PIs Nichols, Rivers, and Hayden Rudd will engage volunteer private well users in virtual or face to face interviews before and after HRMS testing of their well water. Our first objective is to use interview questions to understand the private well users’ motivations to volunteer their samples for HRMS analyses as an innovative sensor technology. Our second objective explores the social context of introducing HRMS sensor technology to private well users and local public health groundwater managers and how HRMS introduction impacts individual and community decisions about groundwater quality and public health.


The Science and Technology of Fashion Design: A STEAM learning approach

Dr. Anne Porterfield and Dr. Kavita Mathur (Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, Wilson College of Textiles)

This project is designed to introduce 7th and 8th grade students to current fashion and textile design technology and to spark their interest in STEAM careers. In a one-week summer workshop, students will learn about how fabrics are made, and will work with testing protocols to examine the physical properties of fabrics. Students will be introduced to 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) software that will enable them to visualize their own unique fashion products using virtual fabrics. As a follow up to this workshop, students will participate in monthly textiles exploration activities (online forums, virtual plant visits, and maker sessions) throughout the academic year. These activities will demonstrate multidisciplinary approaches to designing textile and apparel products. Participation will help students to see connections between science and design so that future designers may be inspired to pursue coursework in science and math, and budding scientists may see the value in exploring art and design.