Texas Tech University

Hospitality and Retail Management Faculty Awarded USDA HEC Grant

Ashley Brister

February 10, 2021

Dr. Julie Chang Awarded USDA HEC Grant for Research

Dr. Julie Chang’s collaboration across three universities will spark technological developments for future textile, apparel, and retail students

Chang HEC Grant TTUIn June 2020, a team of researchers including Julie Chang, an associate professor in Hospitality and Retail Management, was awarded the USDA Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Grant in the amount of $528,851.

Projects supported by the HEC Grants Program address a state, regional, national, or international educational need, including a creative approach toward addressing that need that can serve as a model to others. The program looks for research that will encourage and facilitate better working relationships in higher education to enhance program quality. The research by Dr. Chang and her team plans to develop applied technology competencies among diverse student populations in textiles, apparel, and retailing.

"My role in this project is to develop the technology-based course materials and design/test the assessment instrument," Chang said. "There are three universities involved in this project including Texas Tech University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (lead institution), and Colorado State University."

Since the project began in 2020, the team has made great progress in the application of technology in the classroom. Over the past year, the group has conducted interviews with retail and apparel industry leaders and faculty to better understand how applied technology-related skills will benefit students in retail, fashion, and textiles.

"Based on our discussion and findings from the industry interviews, faculty survey, and student pilot test, each institution is working on the different applied technology module development which can be integrated together eventually," Chang explained.

Modules from the research efforts will be piloted this summer, with plans to implement final versions later this year.

"This module development includes but is not limited to various activities including the 3D design and printing, virtual retail store development, and application," Chang said. "We will invite diverse student groups to be involved in the applied technology activities we develop for this project. The key goal for this project is not about learning the technology, but to build the student's applied technology competencies based on different activities throughout the modules."