Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date




Publication Title

ICERI2022 Proceedings



Conference Name

15th Annual International Conference of Education, 7-9 November 2022, Seville, Spain


This paper presents the development and delivery of educational summer intensive programs for high school students that are designed to encourage students’ interests in the STEM-related fields and the motivation to pursue a STEM-related degrees in college. BLAST (Building Leaders to Advance Science and Technology) is designed as a summer-intensive, residential, on-campus STEM-learning experience for rising ninth and tenth graders. With the intention of improving the STEM-related workforce pipeline in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) offers multiple BLAST programs across the Commonwealth. BLAST programs are designed as intensive three-day, STEM-related three-hour lecture-lab experiences that are reinforced by evening STEM-related events. Funded by a grant by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), VSGC targets approximately three hundred students annually who have a C+ or better average, and who have had no previous STEM-related experience. It is surmised that if more students are exposed to STEM-related fields, they may become more interested in and motivated to one-day pursue a STEM-related discipline which would help to alleviate the STEM-related workforce shortages in Virginia. BLAST is offered at three public universities in Virginia including the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Old Dominion University. Faculty and graduate students at each of the respective universities design and implement programs that draw upon their respective faculty interests and strengths. In this paper, a content analysis of the various BLAST programs and interviews with the directors and faculty involved were conducted to identify common and unique strengths across the different BLAST programs. Impacts of COVID on the development and delivery of the BLAST programs are addressed, as are suggestions for program improvements. The purpose of this paper is to share the results of perceived impacts of the BLAST programs on increasing high school students' interest in STEM-related fields and to increase their motivation in the pursuit of STEM-related college degrees. If the U.S. is to be successful at improving its STEM-ready workforce, one solution is to increase the number of high school students pursuing a STEM-related degree and career.


© 2022 International Academy of Technology, Education and Development.

Included with the kind written permission of the copyright holder.

Original Publication Citation

Tomovic, C., Sandy, M., Back, J., Jovanovic, V., Lester, K., Murphy, E., Mckinney, S., & Tomovic, M. (2022). Blast–building leaders for advancing science and technology: A partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium and the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and Old Dominion University. ICERI2022 Proceedings, pp. 4039-4045.


0000-0002-4292-4039 (Tomovic), 0000-0002-8626-903X (Jovanovic), 0000-0003-2969-7879 (McKinney)