Logo: University of Southern California

Award for USC Viterbi’s Research Experience for Teachers

Outstanding STEM Program Award from Orange County Engineering Council
By: Katie Mills
February 18, 2015 —

The lead investigators of the USC Viterbi Research Experience for Teachers (RET), Dr. Gisele Ragusa (L) and Dr. Maja Matarić (Center), congratulate teacher Mara Lansdown last year for completing RET.


Congratulations to Professors Maja Matarić and Gisele Ragusa for winning the 2015 Outstanding STEM Program Award from the Orange County Engineering Council. Their program, the “Research Experience for Teachers,” immerses middle school teachers in USC Viterbi School of Engineering research labs each summer and trains the teachers to transfer those research insights into lesson plans aligned with the Common Core and Next-Generation Science Standards.

The “Research Experience for Teachers” (RET) program is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Drs. Matarić and Ragusa have already received the noteworthy honor of NSF renewing this program for a second round. Their current RET focus is Advanced Content in Computational Engineering and Science Standards (USC ACCESS 4Teachers), which extends through 2017. Dr. Ragusa has presented to the American Society of Engineering Education on the positive results of the first RET program, running from 2011 to 2013. Dr. Ragusa’s assessments show that both the teachers and their students gain significant benefits in content knowledge, science literacy and motivation thanks to the RET program.

Professor Matarić is USC Viterbi Professor of Computer Science and Vice Dean of Research. Professor Ragusa is Viterbi Professor of Engineering Education. Drs. Ragusa and Matarić have worked closely on over a dozen K-12 STEM outreach programs. Together with USC Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, they created the USC Viterbi Adopt-a-School, Adopt-a-Teacher (VAST) program in October 2012, to inspire K-12 students in their STEM studies and expose them to cutting-edge engineering research.

Dean Yortsos is the keynote speaker at the Orange County Engineering Council’s 2015 Honors and Awards Banquet on February 28. The Banquet recognizes the “best of the best in engineering for Southern California.” The Dean will speak on “The Evolution of Technology and the Engineering Grand Challenges.” No doubt he will be cheering loudly when Drs. Matarić and Ragusa receive their award for the Outstanding STEM Program Award that evening.