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SISTEM one-on-one with Dr. Clay S. Gloster Jr., Associate Dean of the School of Technology and the Interim Chairperson of the Department of Computer Systems Technology at North Carolina A&T State University: "A Look at The Minority Male Makers Program at North Carolina A&T State University - Part 2 of The Minority Male Makers Program ISTG Special Feature".

Clay Gloster

Clay Gloster, Jr. currently serves as the Associate Dean of the School of Technology and the Interim Chairperson of the Department of Computer Systems Technology at North Carolina A&T State University. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina A&T State University (Greensboro, NC) and the Ph.D. degree in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University (Raleigh NC). He also has been employed with IBM, the Department of Defense, the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, North Carolina State University, and Howard University. His research interests are in the general area of reconfigurable computing. Current research focuses on the development of a suite of software tools that allow scientists to benefit from the potential order of magnitude speedup in execution time offered by reconfigurable computers over typical desktop computers. Dr. Gloster has also conducted research in the area of technology-based curriculum development, distance education, and VLSI design for testability. Dr. Gloster has taught courses on digital system design, ASIC design, microprocessor system applications, FPGA-based system design, and VLSI design for testability (using VHDL/Verilog). He has served on the program committee and as session chair for several international conferences. He received best paper and presentation awards for a paper presented at the International Conference on Computer Design and has received numerous fellowships and distinguished awards. Dr. Gloster holds one US patent and led the effort to establish a new BS degree program in Computer Engineering at Howard University.

Q: Please tell us about yourself, what inspired you to choose your career path and what challenges did you face and overcome?Please tell us about yourself, what inspired you to choose your career path and what challenges did you face and overcome?

Gloster: I was born in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and attended the neighborhood public schools. We lived in crime infested areas of the city and moved often. My parents really couldn’t afford to pay for me to go to school, but they instilled in me that education was the key to success. As a child, my parents enrolled me in several extracurricular programs including a STEM program held at the Franklin Institute on Saturdays. The combination of the need to get out of the city and my interest in these programs stimulated my interest in pursuing a career in a STEM discipline.

In the 4th grade, I was selected to attend a special magnet school for gifted and talented students located across town. It was at this point of my life that I realized that I loved math. I also realized that education was my way out of the crime-ridden city. I really became interested in STEM when I participated in a Cooperative Education program for high school juniors at the Naval Research Laboratory located in Annapolis, Maryland. Since I knew my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college, I pursued several scholarship opportunities and ended up having my entire undergraduate degree program sponsored by the Navy Cooperative Education Program. Participation in this program, not only convinced me to pursue a career in a STEM disciple, but it helped me to be confirm that Electrical Engineering was the career of choice for me.

Q: Tell us about The Aggies Minority Male Makers Program at North Carolina A&T State University, its scope, implementation and impact on students.

Gloster: The Aggie STEM Minority Male Maker Program (ASMMM), sponsored by Verizon, consisted of a total of four, one week encampments for the weeks of July 6-10, Jul 20-24, July 27-31, and August 3-7. The focus of each camp was to engage minority male middle school students in STEM content and build skills in four areas: (1) 3-D printing, (2) App development, (3) Robotics, and (4) Personal development. Students were divided into groups of approximately 20, depending on the total numbers of students registered each week. Each group was assigned a K-12 teacher lead. Groups attended courses in the four areas for 90 minutes each da. In addition to the four courses, students were provided team building and mentoring sessions, including morning and midday team time, free play, and informal campus tours. At the end of each week, a closing ceremony was held for students, parents, and volunteers to celebrate the successes of the week. Each student received a certificate of participation at the closing ceremony.

Students will also engage in additional activities throughout the academic year and will return for a second one week encampment during the summer of 2016. Academic year activities will build upon skills learned in the summer encampment. Students will use skills obtained to develop a unique solution to a real-world problem. Competitions will be held and prizes will be awarded to outstanding solutions developed throughout the year. Additionally, students will participate in activities for continued development, engagement, including structured sessions with STEM professionals from local industries.

Students who participated in the program provided positive reviews in support of the program and mentioned that they are anxiously waiting for the academic year program activities to begin. Similarly, parents were pleased with the camp and the potential for their children to become familiar with apps, 3D printing, and robotics. Overall, the camp was a huge success as 326 minority males were exposed to new technologies and STEM disciplines.

Q: How did you measure the effectiveness and success of your program at its conclusion? In addition, how will you this upcoming school year measure and evaluate its impact on academic success and achievement of participating students?

Gloster: The ASMMM project is a collaboration between faculty and administrators from the School of Technology and the School of Education. The role of the investigators from the School of Education is to develop, distribute, collect, and analyze results of surveys designed to assess the program by gathering input from students, parents, and teachers. A pre-assessment is conducted each week before camp begins and a post-assessment is conducted after the camp is completed. In some instances, mid-week assessments are also conducted.

As a part of the proposal to Verizon, our sponsor, a list of metrics and target levels were established to assess the quality/impact of the program. A subset of the project metrics is presented below.

Q: In your estimation, what are the critical steps educational policymakers should undertake to bridge the scientific and technological gap in America and to increase the number of African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans in STEM studies, careers and businesses?

Gloster: Policymakers should continue to support initiatives that incentivize students from these groups to pursue careers in STEM disciplines. Additionally, more specific STEM-focused programs should be put in place, not only in high schools, but in middle schools as well. For example, here at North Carolina A&T State University we have the STEM early college. These students complete all requirements for a high school diploma in two years. They also complete advanced placement courses in math and science. During their final two years, these students take college level courses at North Carolina A&T State University. By the time these students graduate from high school, they can have enough college credits to be considered college juniors. More programs like this should be developed for middle school students.

Q: What recommendations, tips and advice do you have for parents of young African-American, Latino and Native American students, whose children desire to pursue a career in STEM or STEM related fields (such as business, economics, or medicine, for example)?

Gloster: My recommendations for parents of young students from underrepresented groups would be to start early, emphasize the importance of science and mathematics, and encourage these students to participate in STEM initiatives offered in their community. These students need to be exposed to tools and techniques for solving real-world problems as early as possible. Through exposure, students can begin to discover specific and detailed career goals/aspirations early on. This will provide a seemingly unfair advantage for these students as they will be better prepared when they compete to be admitted into college; when they compete for STEM scholarships; and when they compete for summer internships/permanent employment.

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