About Us

I-RISE instructors and students

The Illinois project for Respecting the Identities of Students in Engineering (IRISE) is an interdisciplinary collaboration between STEM experts, teaching professionals, critical theorists, and local community organizations working together to create spaces where kids can leverage their unique interests, experiences, cultures, and identities to solve engineering problems and bring about positive change in society.

Our program has three components:

  1. A course on STEM education and social justice for graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  2. An outreach program in which STEM graduate students, Champaign Unit 4 AVID students and faculty, and select community partners work collaboratively to create positive change through engineering design
  3. A summer workshop that helps STEM educators create teaching materials that respect and honor the unique identities and knowledge their students bring to the classroom

To learn more about I-RISE, please explore the links on this site or email us at info@irise.illinois.edu.

History of IRISE:
The IRISE course was initially developed using a Graduate College Focal Point grant developed by Sharlene Denos, Bob Clegg, and other founding collaborators in 2010. The course initially focused on training science graduate students in K-12 teaching and lesson development using the now defunct NSF GK-12 Graduate Research Fellowship as a model. It was later modified (with the help of UIUC Public Engagement Grants) to focus on engineering education and outreach in collaboration with the Champaign Unit 4 AVID program. After a 3-year hiatus, the IRISE project was redeveloped in 2017 with the help of Elif Ertekin’s NSF CAREER grant to focus explicitly on bringing social justice concepts into STEM teaching and outreach at all levels.