Doctoral Student Michele Strutz Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Michele Strutz
Strutz, who will study the influences on low-socioeconomic students that inspired them to study engineering, is the National Science Foundation's first Graduate Research Fellow in the area of engineering education.

The fellowship program invests in graduate education for students who demonstrate the potential to successfully complete graduate degree programs in disciplines relevant to the mission of the National Science Foundation to ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the United States.

Strutz's study, titled “Influences on Low SES Students’ Decision to Pursue Engineering: A Qualitative Investigation,” will be conducted at Purdue. Applying her dual training in civil engineering and gifted education, Strutz will work with undergraduate students enrolled in various engineering departments. Based on the National Science Board’s prediction, an estimated 1.6 million engineers will be needed by 2014 to support the U.S. job market. Strutz intends to capitalize on the results of her research to create workshops and programs that prompt more students from low-SES backgrounds to pursue and complete engineering studies to meet this nation’s engineering employment demand.
Strutz received a BE in civil engineering from Vanderbilt University and worked as an engineer for 13 years. She returned to academia and completed an MA in gifted and talented education at the University of Connecticut and an MA in curriculum and instruction at Boise State University. At Purdue, she is beginning her doctoral studies in engineering education and completing her doctoral studies in gifted education.
NSF Fellows are expected to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals will be crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large.
In 2009, National Science Foundation funded 1,243 Graduate Research Fellows out of 9,347 eligible submitted applications. Applicants came from 852 different baccalaureate institutions and proposed attendance at 415 different graduate institutions.