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President's Message - Is There a Role for ASEE in K-12 Education?

By Gerald S. Jakubowski

It's no surprise that K-12 education is receiving a tremendous amount of attention these days. Improving education, especially in science and mathematics, is a high priority for the Bush administration, for most states, and for school districts across the nation.

There are many good reasons that K-12 science and math have grabbed the spotlight. The future of our nation depends upon having a good supply of scientists and engineers. Technological innovations generate a vast array of benefits, including improved products and services, a higher standard of living, and economic and military security. Technological creativity allows American companies to compete effectively and efficiently in the global marketplace. But the United States is currently unable to produce the numbers of scientists and engineers that are needed. To fill jobs requiring technical expertise, American companies have had to rely more and more on foreign-born workers. In just the last three years, the number of H-1B visas issued has risen from 65,000 to 195,000. At the same time, U.S. students continue to fall further and further behind in science and mathematics in comparison with students in other countries. Nearly 20 years of efforts to improve K-12 science and mathematics education have failed to yield significant results.

If the United States does not start closing the gap in student achievement in science and mathematics, the country runs the risk of becoming seriously disadvantaged in the worldwide economy. For those of us who teach engineering and technology at the college level, we see two things that result from failures to improve K-12 science and mathematics education. First, many students who want to pursue careers in engineering and technology are ill-prepared for science- and mathematics-based subjects when they enter college, which, in turn, leads to a higher dropout rate. Second, because K-12 students aren't well taught in science and mathematics, some of the best and brightest who potentially have the talent are eliminated from even considering pursuing engineering and technology degrees when they enter college. In both cases, precious human and institutional resources are squandered.

Businesses, professional organizations—including engineering societies—and even individual citizens have initiated programs to help improve the situation. Additional financial resources have been directed to K-12 programs; local and national student design competitions have been organized, student contests have been established, scholarships have been awarded. The list goes on and on. Everybody claims success in their programs. However, most success stories are anecdotal and little true assessment, if any, has been used in measuring the effectiveness of these many programs.

This is where ASEE can play an important role. ASEE is launching an organization that would identify and publicize programs among higher education, pre-college, governmental, and private-sector stakeholders that most effectively improve achievement in K-12 science and mathematics education. This initiative will be called the ASEE Center for Best Practices in K-12 Science and Math Education. Through the center, ASEE will identify programs that are working to improve K-12 science and mathematics education and will conduct research to assess measures of effectiveness of these outreach programs. The goals of ASEE's research will be to:

  • compile a comprehensive inventory of K-12 science and mathematics education outreach programs;
  • identify common performance measures for these programs;
  • develop an assessment methodology that correlates these performance measures to the stated goals and objectives of the programs;
  • carry out benchmark assessments for a selection of programs using these performance metrics;
  • make performance metrics and assessment methodology available to all outreach programs so that program managers can perform assessments of their programs; and
  • provide the opportunity to all those who sponsor K-12 outreach programs to have an exchange of ideas.

As you can imagine, the above tasks will require a tremendous effort on the part of ASEE. However, ASEE intends on easing into it gradually by focusing initially on K-12 programs currently being offered by universities. As a matter of fact, ASEE has already started compiling an inventory of K-12 science and mathematics education outreach programs in ASEE member schools. ASEE is hoping to determine how the programs are assessing and measuring the effectiveness of their programs, to identify those programs that have had the greatest amount of success in improving K-12 science and mathematics programs, and to ascertain whether there are common factors among those programs that have been identified as being most successful. This information will then be shared in order to allow participants to make improvements in their individual programs, to encourage future collaborations, and to spark new approaches in constructing and implementing new programs.

Since improvements in K-12 science and mathematics education are important to engineering and technology education, it is in the best interest of ASEE to get involved. We need to take a proactive role in helping to improve K-12 science and mathematics education. I ask for your support of this initiative to develop this Center for Best Practices in K-12 Science and Math Education. I also seek your input, comments, and suggestions regarding our proposed efforts.

 

 


From Student Chapter Leader to Faculty Member

By Ronald Barr

Future engineering professors are drawn from the ranks of current engineering graduate students. Training in research, often focused on an emerging technical field, is the primary preparation a future faculty member receives during his or her doctoral studies. There is no doubt that building a successful research program is tantamount to a successful career as an engineering professor. Nonetheless, as in any complex profession, engineering faculty must address a diversity of requirements and issues. Effective teaching, service to professional societies, advising, and student mentoring are among these.

During the past several years, ASEE has fostered the development of graduate student chapters at a number of universities. One of the founding objectives of ASEE student chapters was to encourage and prepare engineering graduate students for careers in academia. As the first wave of student chapter leaders complete their Ph.D. degrees, the realization of this fundamental objective seems to be coming true. Here are some of their stories.

Joyce Yen is an assistant professor of industrial engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she teaches probability and statistics courses and conducts research on complex decision making in the presence of uncertainty. Yen says that her affiliation with ASEE as a graduate student "gave me an opportunity for professional development beyond research. I greatly enjoyed interacting with other students who have an interest in teaching and who are concerned about professional development." Yen has continued this interest in teaching as a faculty member, and she also attended the National Effective Teaching Institute this past year.


Don Visco is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Tennessee Tech University, where he teaches introduction to chemical engineering, applied mathematics, and advanced chemical thermodynamics courses. Visco was the founding president of the ASEE student chapter at the State University of New York at Buffalo and remains interested in ASEE as a faculty member. He is co-author of a paper on ASEE student chapters that appeared in the October 2001 issue of the Journal of Engineering Education. Visco states that "by reading the various ASEE journals and attending the national ASEE meetings, I can get cutting edge information on teaching techniques, including what is working and isn't working inside the classroom. Such practical knowledge enables me to be a more efficient and effective educator." Visco's research interests are in thermodynamics modeling, molecular simulation, and bioinformatics.

Anneta Razatos is assistant professor of chemical engineering at Arizona State University. She teaches courses in chemical processing, kinetics, and reactor design and conducts research in the emerging field of biochemical engineering. Razatos says, "I feel that the ASEE student chapter was helpful in my decision to pursue a career in academia. Through various activities like panel discussions and brown bag lunches, I found out what was expected of an assistant professor. ASEE student chapter activities helped me draft my application packet and prepare for interviews. Having participated on the other side of the interview process now, I can't emphasize enough how important it is for applicants to be prepared and confident."

William Oakes is an assistant professor in the department of freshman engineering at Purdue University. After more than five years in industry, Oakes made the decision to return to school and pursue a Ph.D. with the intent to enter an academic career. He says that the "ASEE student chapter hosted programs that brought faculty from different schools to campus where they could share their perspectives about their own local institutions. The reality is that there are a very wide range of opportunities available to engineering educators." Oakes's teaching interests are in freshman engineering courses and service learning courses within engineering. He is a key faculty member in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program at Purdue as well as the National EPICS Program.

Jennifer Maynard will be an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, starting in 2003 after she completes a postdoctoral position. As a student chapter leader, she reports that "participation in the ASEE student chapter has been absolutely essential to my career decisions—it is through ASEE that I have truly learned what is expected of today's engineering professors." She also "finds Prism to be helpful for teaching suggestions (I have a file in which I save my favorites), and for providing perspectives on today's engineering undergrads." Maynard's research interests are biotechnology and biomedical engineering in a chemical engineering context. As part of her teaching style, she plans to "incorporate hands-on activities (and biology) as much as possible into traditional lecture courses."

Eric Matsumoto is an assistant professor of civil engineering at California State University at Sacramento, where he teaches courses on structural concrete design and conducts research on pre-cast concrete bridge systems. Eric was the founding president of the ASEE student chapter at the University of Texas at Austin. "Before committing myself to the doctoral program at UT, I attended the 1996 ASEE National Conference with the goal of finding out if academia was really for me. I wanted to see if engineering faculty were genuinely dedicated to education, in addition to research. I was pleasantly surprised," he says. Matsumoto is currently active in the civil engineering division of ASEE. "The greatest benefit has been the opportunity to publish in ASEE conference proceedings, which is valued at my university,” he says. “Participation at the national conference this past summer was a refreshing and stimulating experience."

Jennifer Kadlowec is an assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Rowan University, New Jersey, where she teaches mechanics courses and conducts research on the mechanical behavior of elastomer materials. She says: "I enrolled in the Ph.D. program wanting to become a college professor. Participation in a various chapter events, national conferences, and working with others in the ASEE chapter at the University of Michigan helped me in achieving this goal. I believe that my involvement as an officer in the student chapter helped me jump-start my involvement in ASEE at the national level. I'm currently involved with the ERM and mechanics divisions and have written several papers." Kadlowec also attended the National Effective Teaching Institute at the 2000 ASEE national conference.

Jeff Gray will be an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Johns Hopkins University in the fall of 2002. His research interests are in protein interactions, nanostructured materials, and structure formation in colloidal systems. Gray found that ASEE student chapter involvement was very useful during his academic interviews: "I was able to discuss concepts like active and cooperative learning, and various issues of diversity in engineering. Having ASEE on my résumé let schools know that I am serious about education, academia, and teaching. This was important to most of the schools where I interviewed. In fact, when discussion came around to ASEE and teaching issues, I could immediately judge the department's philosophy on teaching, and whether the department was suitable for me."

Acknowledgement:
This Student Chapter Update was inspired by two papers 1,2 presented at the 2001 ASEE Annual Conference. Comments about this article can be forwarded to Ronald E. Barr, ASEE Vice President of Member Affairs, at his email address: rbarr@mail.utexas.edu.

1. Kadlowec, J., DeGoede, K., Harding, T., and Lorenz, C.: "ASEE Student Chapters: From Student Members to Faculty," Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Albuquerque, N.M., June 2001.

2. Philip, Z., Finley, C., Tsurikov, M., Rijken, P., Mahadevan, J., Ulloa, F., and Barr, R.: "The Role of the ASEE Student Chapter in the Making of a Professor: A Case Study of UT-Austin," Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Albuquerque, N.M., June 2001.

 

Ronald Barr is professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at rbarr@asee.org.


Conferences

The 21st International Conference on Offshore Mechanics and Arctic Engineering (OMAE) will be held June 23-28, 2002, in Oslo, Norway. The Ocean, Offshore, and Arctic Engineering Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as well as The Norwegian Society of Chartered Engineers will organize the conference. Topics covered by the conference will include: offshore technology safety and reliability materials technology, pipeline technology, ocean space utilization, ocean engineering, polar and arctic sciences and technology.
Visit www.asmeconferences.org/omae02/ for more information.

 

On June 10-12, 2002, the Society for Experimental Mechanics will host the 2002 SEM Annual Conference & Exposition on Experimental and Applied Mechanics in Milwaukee, Wis. The conference's theme will be "Measurements in Advanced Materials and Systems." The various tracks of the conference will include "Measurements and Models for Nano-structured Materials and Systems," "Biologically Inspired and Multi-functional Material Systems," "Experimental Measurements in a Computational Environment," and "Experimental and Applied Mechanics." A concurrent symposium entitled "MEMS: Mechanics and Measurements" also will be held during the conference. For more information visit www.sem.org.


On The Inside

By Michael Sanoff

As ASEE's projects department continues to evolve, manager Michael Moore is exploring a number of new approaches.

At 1818 N Street in Washington D.C., the daily activities of ASEE are carried out on behalf of its members. To help facilitate a better understanding of what actually goes on at society headquarters, ASEE Today will periodically feature the various people and departments that make up the organization. This month, Inside ASEE takes a look at the projects department headed by Michael Moore.

ASEE's projects department has come a long way since its birth almost 40 years ago. At its inception in 1964, the department was created to help manage the NASA summer faculty fellowship. Since that time, the activities and goals of the department have greatly broadened. The department now oversees the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Summer Faculty Research Program, postdoctoral fellowships for the Army Research Laboratory and Office of Naval Research, as well as graduate fellowships such as the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG) and the Helen T. Carr Fellowship. The projects department is also responsible for the day-to-day management of Tau Alpha Pi, the national honor society for engineering technology.

The transition from a focus on faculty-based fellowship programs to one that also embraces programs for engineering students and postdoctoral research reflects the department's increasingly comprehensive philosophy. "One of our main goals is to diversify our programs and to promote engineering education at all levels," says department manager Michael Moore. Programs such as the ONR Summer Faculty Research Program give educators the opportunity to increase their knowledge base and use state-of-the-art facilities they may not have access to otherwise. It can also aid them in research. In addition, these faculty development programs can be beneficial to students who can learn from their teachers' new experiences.

With student-based programs such as NDSEG, the projects department seeks to encourage students to continue their engineering education through graduate school. The rationale behind this, says Moore, is that "with more engineering students acquiring graduate degrees, there will be more innovative and groundbreaking research conducted at the highest levels." By promoting the development of engineering education at the faculty and student levels, the projects department hopes to further the quality of teaching as well as innovation and knowledge at the professional level.

At the present time, they have a number of projects in the works. In February, the department will facilitate candidate reviews and recommendations for the NDSEG fellowship, granted to roughly 200 students pursuing graduate degrees in science and engineering. In addition, the department is working in conjunction with NASA to develop a new internship Web site which will be located at www.tech-interns.com. The Web site will be a searchable database of internship opportunities for students in science and engineering.

The department also is exploring various new marketing techniques, including visits to college campuses to promote its programs. One program that Moore is especially interested in promoting is Tau Alpha Pi. While the engineering technology honors society currently consists of just under 100 schools, there are close to 150 more TAC/ABET accredited schools eligible for membership in the society. In the future, Moore hopes to "expand the services we provide both to ASEE's members and to the broader engineering community, and the projects department is constantly on the lookout for new ways to reach that goal."


About People

Former interim dean at West Virginia University's College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, Eugene Cilento, has now accepted the permanent deanship of the program. The 22-year chemical engineering professor has served as interim dean since July 2000 and was offered the deanship following a national search. Since 1979, Cilento has been a faculty member in the department of chemical engineering and was department chairman from 1988-1989. He also has been a research professor in the school of medicine's department of anatomy since 1978.

 

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, recently appointed two new associate deans to its Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering. Ken Fridley is the new associate dean of research and information technology and Barbara Luke is the new associate dean for undergraduate programs and assessment. Fridley served on the faculty at Purdue University, the University of Oklahoma, and most recently, Washington State University prior to his recent appointment at UNLV. Luke has been a faculty member in the department of civil and environmental engineering since her arrival at UNLV in 1995 and directs the engineering geophysics laboratory.

 

Texas A&M University professor of nuclear engineering, John W. Poston Sr., has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). With this honor, Poston is being recognized for his contributions to the health and safety of the public and employees associated with the nuclear industry. From 1988 to 1998, Poston headed the department of nuclear engineering at Texas A&M. Poston has helped to develop the radiological health engineering program, which combines engineering and nuclear engineering with safety engineering and radiation protection. He has contributed to the Health Protection Engineering Program, designed to produce graduate engineers who can work more effectively in the current nuclear industry environment.

 


Research Opportunities

Faculty, Graduate, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities

A number of research opportunities are available through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Here is a brief listing and description of some of their programs:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Faculty Research Participation Program
DOE's faculty research program is held at a number of sites including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C., and the National Energy Technology Laboratories in Pittsburgh, Pa. and Morgantown, W.Va. Participants at each location conduct collaborative research during 10-12 week summer appointments. The programs provide opportunities for faculty members to gain experience and knowledge they can incorporate into the curricula at their home campuses. Research areas include computer sciences, engineering, environmental life sciences, mathematics/statistics, physical and earth sciences, and material sciences. The deadline for applications for sabbatical leave and summer appointments is February 1, 2002. The deadline for part-time appointments is two months prior to the desired starting date. Visit www.orau.gov/hereatornl/ for more information.

Advanced Industrial Materials (AIM) Program Graduate Fellowships
The AIM Graduate Fellowship Program is open to undergraduate seniors or first year graduate students enrolled in or intending to enroll in one of the following disciplines: materials science, materials engineering, metallurgical engineering, or ceramic engineering. Awards are for two years and include a monthly stipend and tuition payment of up to $6,000 per year. The deadline to apply is February 29, 2002. Visit www.orau.gov/orise/edu/uggrad/aim.htm for more information.

Savannah River Site (SRS) Postgraduate Research Participation Program
Through hands-on research opportunities, participants work with SRS scientists and engineers to solve real world problems. Areas of research include: environmental technologies, hydrogen technologies, and advanced sensor systems, as well as robotics and remote engineered systems. Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Visit www.orau.gov/orise/edu/postgrad/pgsrs.htm for more information.

Paid Research Experience and Professional Internship Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
These programs are designed to provide practical, hands-on experience for undergraduates, recent graduates, and graduate students majoring in science, engineering, and mathematics. Program participants are assigned individual projects that relate to their academic majors, their career goals, and the ongoing research missions of the facilities. The application deadlines are February 1, June 1, and October 1 for each program. Visit www.orau.gov/orise/edu/uggrad/hestd.htm for paid research information.
Visit www.orau.gov/orise/edu/uggrad/pipnetl.htm or www.orau.gov/orise/edu/uggrad/pipsrs1.htm for more information regarding paid internships.

 

 

Contact Prim - prism@asee.org