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RET Site Program Brings STEM Educators Together to Develop Engineering Expertise

Eductors Disassembling Electronics
High school educators disassemble electronics during the RET Site program kick-off meeting in June.
Eleven high school STEM educators from Alabama and Indiana were on the campus of Purdue University on Friday, July 14 for the culmination of a summer-long research experience. In its second year, the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) Program was created through a partnership with Purdue University’s Environmental and Ecological Engineering program and Tuskegee University.

The program is offered each summer and provides secondary educators hands-on experiences in sustainable electronics research as well as other professional development activities.

Participants attended the program at either Purdue University’s West Lafayette, IN campus or Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, AL, and the activities were divided into three phases.

Phase one was an orientation held at Purdue and covered multiple items including an introduction to engineering, training in research methods and ethics, and best practices for teaching sustainability concepts in engineering contexts.

Phase two focused on the teachers’ development in their respective research teams through in-person collaboration and through teleconference sessions.

Phase three brought all of the teachers together at Purdue for a final poster presentation, discussions, and summative evaluations.

JaToria W. Floyd, an educator at Booker T. Washington High School (Tuskegee, AL) and second year participant in the RET program, found this experience to be the “perfect opportunity to bring additional resources into the classroom and bridge the gap between high school and college concepts.”

Floyd further explained, “Being able to come in and take part in research and bring it back to our students has been the most beneficial factor.”

Program directors are Dr. Inez Hua, Purdue Professor of Environmental and Ecological Engineering and Civil Engineering, and Dr. Mike Curry, Tuskegee University, Professor of Chemistry.

2017 participants included:

  • Angelo Badea, Robert E. Lee High School, Montgomery, AL
  • Lindsey Daniel, Austin High School, Austin, IN
  • Laura Fred-Smith, Winamac Community High School, Winamac, IN
  • Ralph Gee, Michigan City High School, Michigan City, IN
  • James Glen, Danville Community High School, Danville, IN
  • Shani Jones, Sumter Central High School, York, AL
  • Melissa McCarthy, William Henry Harrison High School, West Lafayette, IN
  • Samuel McClellan, North Newton Jr/Sr High School, Morocco, IN
  • Jeffery Pfister, Warren Central High School, Indianapolis, IN
  • JaToria Washington-Floyd, Booker T. Washington High School, Tuskegee, AL
  • Ashley Zahrt, Michigan City High School, Michigan City, IN

Additional information about the RET Site program can be found at