Dr. Luciana Barroso | Image: Specialties Photography

Aggie STEM, an Aggie STEM Summer Camp (ASSC) program at Texas A&M University, has been selected as a recipient of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award. Dr. Luciana Barroso, an associate professor and director of undergraduate programs in the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M, is a co-director of the ASSC program, along with Drs. Robert and Mary Margaret Capraro, who are both professors in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M.

The program is a joint effort between Texas A&M’s College of Education and Human Development and College of Engineering to encourage meaningful, engaging STEM experiences for K-12 students. It offers several summer programs for low-income students and those who are underrepresented in STEM fields. One program offered is an all girl’s camp where attendees learn about various STEM topics from female faculty at Texas A&M.

“Aggie STEM looks at both the students and the teachers,” said Barroso. "We do research on how to better conduct STEM education for students, how we can better prepare teachers to teach STEM courses and how to integrate STEM disciplines.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity focuses on recognizing diversity and inclusion in higher education, and Barroso and Capraros were recognized for their significant contributions as researchers and educators for ASSC, where they are working to motivate and encourage the next generation of young people to pursue STEM education and careers.

“When I got this chance to become involved in this program and to try to reach students at an earlier age, I thought it was a great way to help out and become more involved,” Barroso said. “I want everyone to pursue what they want to pursue and not be artificially limited by what other people told them they can or cannot do.”

Barroso explains that high schools have begun to challenge their teachers to incorporate engineering topics into their classes, but many teachers aren’t equipped to teach these courses.

“If I can help connect the math and science that they do know and teach to engineering applications and how an engineer thinks about problems, then I think it’s a win-win,” said Barroso.

Since 2011, the ASSC has been offering two-week summer camp options for students in the sixth through 12th grades and offers an Aggie STEM Honors Program for students who have a particular interest in the STEM field and want to explore it in depth.

“It’s always been a push to help a wide variety of students, particularly students who don’t necessarily think they can pursue STEM degrees or think of college,” said Barroso. “From the beginning, that’s been one of the aims for the camps and for much of the research efforts.”

Barroso received a bachelor’s of science in civil engineering and a bachelor’s of arts in from Rice University, as well as a master’s and doctoral degree in civil engineering from Stanford University. She joined the department in 1999 and specializes in structural engineering. Barroso has previously received the ‘02-’03 Zachry Award for Excellence in Teaching, the ‘03 ExCEEd New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching from the Association of Former Students, and the ‘15 Dick & Joyce Birdwell Award for Teaching Excellence.