As ASEE president Wallace Fowler likes to say, the future of engineering is in the hands of engineering students. ASEE student chapters help future engineers learn more about their chosen profession. Here is an update on two of ASEE's student chapters.
University of Texas at Austin
This year has gotten off to a good start with a talk, "Teaching Engineers: Thoughts and Techniques," by Desmond Lawler of UT's civil engineering department. Lawler, the recipient of numerous teaching awards, shared some of his thoughts and experiences with the students.
In October, the chapter presented an engineering graduate student panel discussion where graduate students spoke about the realities of graduate school. The topics of most interest were the importance of the GPA in getting in, and whether it is better to have a few years of work experience before beginning grad school.
In November, we held a departmental chair panel discussion called "Interviewing for Faculty Positions." David Dolling, chair of aerospace and engineering mechanics; John Ekerdt, chair of chemical engineering; and J. Parker Lamb, chair of mechanical engineering, participated in the discussion. They reviewed the faculty hiring process, and suggested that candidates have some published work and good recommendations before beginning the process. They anticipate many faculty positions opening up in the next four to five years.
The last event of the year was a brown bag luncheon with James O. Jirsa, chair of the civil engineering department. He talked about the role of new faculty members in professional and technical societies. In his talk, Jirsa spoke about the three aspects of a an academic career" teaching, research, and service. External service, often the most neglected aspect, helps in networking and often leads to research ideas and collaborations, Jirsa said.
Northwestern University is the site of ASEE's newest student chapter, which formed last year. In addition to creating their mission statement, constitution, and bylaws, the group has also held three events, including a panel discussion on applying to graduate schools. Panel members consisted of graduate admission officers from the various engineering and applied science departments at Northwestern.
Last fall, the student chapter—along with the Searle Center for Teaching Excellence—sponsored a lecture by Northwestern mechanical engineering faculty members L. Catherine Brinson and Michael Peshkin. The lecture, titled "Exploring Peer Instruction," was followed by a multiple choice "concept" question. Brinson and Peshkin discussed their experiences implementing peer instruction into a large first-year engineering course.
Also in the fall, the chapter held a panel discussion—jointly sponsored with the Preparing Future Engineering Faculty branch of the Northwestern University Preparing Future Faculty program—on applying for faculty positions. This was the first of six joint PFEF/ASEE events planned for the coming year, with future topics including the tenure process, grant writing, understanding industry, and intellectual property.