Chemical engineering major Kristina Krull met a teacher in high school that lit a spark in her, inspiring her to learn. Now she is torn – should she teach science or work in industry?
To help her decide, Krull enrolled in the University’s UTeach program, an initiative to prepare a new generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers. Last December, the state awarded the University a $1.6 million grant to fund the program, part of a nationwide effort to improve STEM teacher training.
“I am still unsure about my career path but UTeach lets me pursue my engineering degree while also gaining teaching experience through a class that meets once a week and only requires as much time outside the classroom as I want to put into it,” she says.
An exciting benefit of the UTeach program is the opportunity for research internships. Krull landed a nine-week summer research experience at Middle Tennessee State University. She will be conducting an air quality analysis and studying the atmosphere’s composition of volatile organic compounds from biogenic, industrial and mobile sources to discover the role land cover plays in determining ozone values. She’s excited about the opportunity to travel and conduct field research.
“I am very much looking forward to traveling to another state and working with a diverse group of science majors,” says Krull. “Anytime I can work hands-on to learn something new, I am fully engaged in the endeavor.”
The internship also includes a weeklong trip to Mammoth Cave and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, attendance at the American National Geological meeting in Vancouver in 2014, researching geo-environmental challenges in the southeastern United States and a $4,500 stipend.
The UTeach Path
Students enrolled in the UTeach program take two one-credit courses that include working with local public schools in Chelmsford, Dracut, Lowell, Lawrence and Methuen. Providing classroom experience early in the program to helps students decide if teaching is a good fit for them. If they stick with the program, they take classes in education and research methods and do student teaching, earning secondary STEM teacher certification by graduation.
“UTeach is such a great program for science majors to take advantage of,” says Sumudu Lewis, UTeach program director and master teacher. “If students have ever thought about teaching, they have nothing to lose and only everything to gain.”