College of Computing News

Georgia Tech Receives National Science Foundation Funding to Develop AI-Enhanced System Supporting High School Engineering Teachers

The Georgia Institute of Technology has received funding from the National Science Foundation to develop and pilot a software system enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI) that supports high school engineering teachers in teaching the engineering design process and providing students with real-time feedback.

The three-year, $849,000 grant supports a collaboration between Georgia Tech researchers in the College of Computing, the G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, and the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing (CEISMC). The project will take a teaching-focused technological approach to the engineering design process, representing an early exploration into AI-enhanced design pedagogy.

“Our work is aimed in part at discovering if artificial intelligence can support teachers in the creation of the necessary models and knowledge structures needed to equip learners with engineering design skills,” said Mark Riedl, professor in the School of Interactive Computing and principal investigator on the NSF project.

Specifically, the project will:

  • Improve upon an existing web-based Engineering Design Process Log (EDPL) by engaging in teacher user studies.
  • Design, pilot, and implement an AI-based authoring and tutoring system for teachers to customize feedback for their students and for specific projects.
  • Design and provide professional development opportunities for alpha and beta testing teachers.
  • Assess the impact of an AI-based EDPL on engineering design pedagogy and classroom practice.

“We are focused on an AI-enhanced system for the Engineering Design Process Log to help students navigate the design process, provide real-time feedback, destigmatize failures during the process, and encourage meaningful documentation along the way,” said Roxanne Moore, co-principal investigator in the Woodruff School and CEISMC.

Jeff Rosen, program director at CEISMC who developed the original EDPL with Moore for another NSF project, will also serve as co-principal investigator to guide its adaptation to an AI-enhanced version.

“Unlike many other educational domains, engineering design problems vary widely in scope and solution pathways. The teacher plays a vital role – there will not be a one-size-fits-all system that can provide feedback to students,” said Rosen.

Researchers plan to partner with high school engineering teachers in Georgia to conduct user studies and collaborate on design and development of the tools. During the project, an AI-enhanced software system will be developed then deployed into education environments where teachers will be able to test the system and provide feedback.

In a typical high school engineering class, students are often working in groups at their own pace on open-ended design projects. Meltem Alemdar, principal research scientist, associate director of CEISMC, and co-principal investigator on the NSF project said, “This tool could serve as a formative assessment tool, which is always a struggle for teachers in the engineering classroom.”

“Our hope is that this project will empower teachers with AI to provide more real-time feedback for students during the design processes when the teachers can’t be everywhere all the time. The goal is to reduce the stress on teachers and improve the learning experience for students,” said Moore.

This research is supported by NSF Grant 2119135 for the project Exploring Artificial Intelligence-enhanced Electronic Design Process Logs: Empowering High School Engineering Teachers. More information about the grant is available on the NSF’s website.

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