Teaching & Learning

Engineering Education Professor Receives Funding From GEAR UP Initiative

By Sydney Dahle |

Marissa Tsugawa, a research professor in USU's Department of Engineering Education, recently received a $75,000 grant from the nonprofit Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP.

Marissa Tsugawa, a research professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University, recently received a $75,000 grant from the nonprofit Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or GEAR UP.

GEAR UP is a highly competitive grant program that empowers local partnerships between K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies and community organizations.

The program seeks to achieve three goals:

  • Increasing the postsecondary expectations and readiness of students.
  • Improving high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates.
  • Raising the knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation and financing for families and students.

Over the next three semesters, Tsugawa will collaborate with and train high school STEM teachers to develop their own engineering activities for science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses that involve design and problem solving for students.

“This work will prepare STEM teachers to teach engineering in secondary education, which can prepare K-12 students for college,” they said. “Starting these lessons at a younger age will make these students more comfortable about an undergraduate education and increase their confidence.”

One of the projects Tsugawa is working on with graduate student Leslie Brown is on house insulation. Students in high schools across Utah will learn about heat transfer through a project designed to show how heat moves around a building and what materials will better insulate a home.

Tsugawa is collaborating with STEM teachers at Logan High School and two American Preparatory Academy high schools in the Salt Lake City area to integrate engineering activities in their classrooms. APA is a charter school dedicated to providing better opportunities for their students.

A summer workshop is also in development to teach high school educators how to develop their own activities in the classroom.

“I am excited to work on these lesson plans with teachers and encourage student participation,” Tsugawa said. “Hopefully this means we will see more engineers in the future.”


Sydney Dahle
Public Relations Specialist
College of Engineering


Marissa Tsugawa
Assistant Professor
Engineering Education


Engineering 346stories Education 345stories Grants 231stories STEM 177stories K-12 77stories

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