Teacher Preparation Section

Alma Robinson, Virginia Tech

At the 2015 PhysTEC conference in February, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Kristine Callan from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and Wendy Adams from the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). During introductions, they spoke of their unique STEM Teacher Preparation Program where students at CSM, a highly selective, small public research university devoted to engineering and applied science, can pursue teaching licensure with an option for a master’s degree through UNC, Colorado’s premier teacher preparation institution.

At the next meeting break, conference attendees swarmed Kristine and Wendy and inundated them with questions about their program. It was clear that many institutions see great potential in recruiting and training engineering students as physics teachers and were very interested in learning how these partnerships can be created.

For this edition of the Teacher Preparation Section, three institutions that are making inroads in graduating physics teachers who have engineering backgrounds will be highlighted. First, Kristine Callan and Wendy Adams outline their aforementioned program, PhysTEC’s first multi-institution comprehensive site.

Kathy Koenig explains how the University of Cincinnati has created a streamlined pathway for engineering students to earn both an engineering degree and a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in five years. By taking advantage of the university’s existing 5-year master’s degree program that includes multiple co-operative work experiences, students can now earn their teaching licensure while fulfilling some of their required co-operative experience through student teaching.

Finally, John Simonetti, Brenda Brand, and George Glasson explain how the partnerships between the Department of Physics, School of Education, and College of Engineering at Virginia Tech have played key roles in the success of their physics teacher preparation program. Engineering students are encouraged to participate in courses that offer early teaching experiences, and pre-service physics teachers are invited to enroll in a Mechanical Engineering Robotics elective where college students mentor high school students in building a robot for the FIRST Robotics competition.