ASEE Prism Magazine - October 2002
Facing The Problem
All The RIght Moves
Natural Borne Killers
Teaching Toolbox
ASEE Today
Last Word
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ASEE Today



- By Ray Bert

Throughout his career, Gene DeLoatch has done his utmost to attract more minorities to engineering. And now it's one of his top priorities as ASEE's new president.

Every morning Eugene “Gene” DeLoatch jumps into his car and drives against traffic from his home in Suitland, Md.,—a Washington, D.C., suburb—to north Baltimore, where he's the dean of engineering at Morgan State University. Although this “reverse commute,” as it is known in the D.C. area, makes more sense than traveling in the opposite direction, it has only become popular in recent years. DeLoatch was ahead of his time in adopting it 18 years ago.

Going against the grain is not unusual for ASEE's new president. From the beginning of his career, he has advocated tapping into urban schools as the way to fill the nation's desperate need for more engineers. In recent years, more and more K-12 schools, engineering colleges, corporations, government agencies, and engineering societies have come to the same realization.

DeLoatch, who was born in New York City in 1936, first gravitated toward engineering in part because of the excitement the field was generating at the time. He was also interested in foreign languages and considered becoming a French teacher, but the post-WWII engineering boom of the 1950s and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s were hugely influential on the young African-American, and an engineering career won out.

“A lot of my own thinking and drive has been shaped by history and the events of the day,” he says. “When I went to college back in 1954, engineering was coming into a whole new phase. More people were needed in the field as the shift to a peacetime economy continued.” Until that period, engineering as a profession was dominated almost entirely by white males.

DeLoatch graduated in 1959 with dual degrees in mathematics and electrical engineering from a joint five-year program between Tougaloo College in Mississippi and Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. He later went on to earn his master's degree in electrical engineering from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, now known as the Polytechnic Institute of New York, in 1967, and his Ph.D. in bioengineering, also from Polytechnic, in 1972.

DeLoatch settled on a career in education, feeling energized by working with students. He also felt passionate about changing the status quo. “I grew up with a lot of young guys who were as capable of doing engineering as I was but knew nothing of it. So I decided to see if I could spread the word, and that's how I chose to get into education.”

He accepted a position at Howard University in Washington, D.C., as an instructor of engineering. Howard was the first school to award engineering degrees to African-Americans, and, at the time, was turning out more minority engineers than any other school.

As DeLoatch talks about attracting minorities to engineering, the enthusiasm he brings to the job is clear. However, it was obligation, not mission—at least initially—that drew him into ASEE. “I joined not long after I started at Howard, because the senior faculty felt that anyone involved in engineering education should be a member,” he says, adding with a laugh that “we were different from young faculty members today: We followed orders.”

After 12 years at Howard, during which he worked his way up to chairman of the electrical engineering department, DeLoatch was offered an exciting new job at Morgan State University. There had been no affordable public access to engineering education in Baltimore—a city heavily populated with African-Americans—and in 1984, the state of Maryland turned to DeLoatch to launch Morgan's engineering college.

Fewer than 20 years after starting from scratch, Morgan State graduates roughly 100-125 engineers per year. In 2001, 88 of the bachelor's recipients in engineering were African-Americans. DeLoatch, though not the sort who would ever admit to being satisfied, is clearly pleased that so many students have succeeded in a demanding field. Like a proud father, he rattles off the names of a number of Morgan graduates with whom he stays in touch, who have gone on to positions with major engineering companies.

To DeLoatch, however, success also serves as a reminder of all that remains to be accomplished. He wants to make sure that the United States doesn't fall behind other countries because a lot of talented youngsters who could have been engineers never make it into the pipeline.

“We have to get more people trained in engineering and science. Women make up only 20 percent of the engineers in this country, and African-Americans and Hispanics account for only 7 percent combined. We've had significant movement in the minority population in engineering, but now it's stalled, so the question becomes, what are we going to do for the next stage?”

As ASEE's president for the next year, he plans to address that issue and some other ones, as well. “With efforts such as Learnon and the Center for K-12, there is enough momentum to carry ASEE for a while,” he says, “but to get a boost that will carry us past that, we need to examine what we're doing, to clarify who we are and how we are different from—and similar to—other societies.”

DeLoatch has many specific goals for ASEE, from getting more of the members to become active participants to balancing the needs and influence of large versus small schools to increasing corporate membership. “I love engineering, and I love education,” he says, “and ASEE is and should continue to be the world's premier engineering education society.”

DeLoatch's commitment to the people and things he cares about is well known. Take his granddaughter, Sierra, who is four. When he was in Montreal for his inauguration as ASEE's president, he knew the little girl was apprehensive about the new baby her mother was about to deliver. In spite of a hectic schedule, he made sure there was time to buy her a present before coming home. Just as he has with inner-city youngsters who've gone on to study engineering, he sought to make her feel special.


Ray Bert is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.
He can be reached at

Section Outstanding Teaching Awards

- By Michael Sanoff, ASEE Today Section Editor/Writer

This award, given by each ASEE section, recognizes the outstanding teaching performance of an engineering or engineering technology educator. The award consists of a framed certificate and an appropriate honorarium presented by the local section. This year's award recipients are:

Illinois-Indiana Section
Nashwan Younis
Indiana University/Purdue University

Middle Atlantic Section
Angelo J. Perna
New Jersey Institute of Technology

New England Section
Joseph J. Rencis
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

North Central Section
Shuvra Das
University of Detroit-Mercy

North Midwest Section
Sudhir I. Mehta
North Dakota State University

Pacific Southwest Section
Kurt Colvin
California Polytechnic State University

Rocky Mountain Section
Barbara B. Bath
Colorado School of Mines

St. Lawrence Section
Eric B. Zimmerman
U.S. Military Academy-West Point

Southeast Section
Rolf E. Hummel
University of Florida-Gainesville


Section Outstanding Campus Representative Award

ASEE's Campus Liaison Board initiated this award to recognize those ASEE Campus Representatives who have demonstrated staunch support for ASEE on their campuses. The award consists of a framed certificate of recognition and is presented at each section's annual meeting. This year's award recipients are:

Gulf Southwest Section
David Kauffman
University of New Mexico

Middle Atlantic Section
Stephanie Farrell
Rowan University

New England Section
Kanti Prasad
University of Massachusetts-Lowell

North Central Section
Paul Lam
University of Akron

North Midwest Section
Sudhir I. Mehta
North Dakota State University

Pacific Southwest Section
Allen Plotkin
San Diego State University

Rocky Mountain Section
Joseph Cheng
University of Southern Colorado

Southeast Section
Richard O. Mines
Mercer University


Best Paper Awards

This award recognizes high-quality papers that were presented at the ASEE Annual Conference. Winners of the 5th annual 2002 ASEE Best Paper Awards are:

Best Paper PIC I
James Pocock and Peter Ridilla
United States Air Force Academy
Paper: “Project-based Construction Education”
Session 1421

Best Paper PIC II
John Paul Giolma and Kevin Nickels
Trinity University
Paper: “Herding Cats : A Case Study of a Capstone Design Course”
Session 2425

Best Paper PIC III
Ingvar Gustavsson
The Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden
Paper: “A Remote Laboratory for Electrical Experiments”
Session 2359

Best Paper PIC V

Malgorzata Zywno
Ryerson University
Paper: “Instructional Technology, Learning Styles and Academic Achievement”
Session 2422

Best Paper Overall
Winners for PIC I (James Pocock and Peter Ridilla) and PIC V (Malgorzata Zywno) share the Best Overall Paper Award.

About People

Former dean of the University of Arkansas College of Engineering, Otto J. Loewer, has been appointed founding director of the university's new Economic Development Institute. Loewer, who served as dean from 1996 until his recent appointment, will be responsible for developing the institute, whose purpose is to establish linkages with business, education, community organizations, government, and other partners.

University Professor of electrical engineering, Neil M. Schmitt, will serve as interim dean while a national search is conducted. Schmitt has been on the UA faculty since 1969, including a stint as the school's dean of engineering from 1983 to 1996.

Robert J. Gustafson, associate dean for academic affairs and student services in the College of Engineering at Ohio State University, has been elected president of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) for the year 2003-2004. Gustafson is also a professor of food, agricultural, and biological engineering, for which he also served as departmental chair from 1987-1998.

Books by Members

The Design of Innovation: Lessons from and for Competent Genetic Algorithms
By David E. Goldberg
Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA; 2002
248 pp., $79.95

Engineering Your Future: The Non-Technical Side of Professional Practice in Engineering and Other Technical Fields
By Stuart G. Walesh
ASCE Press, Reston, VA; 2000
528 pp., $45


The Green Engineering: Defining the Principles conference will be held in Sandestin, Florida, May 18-22, 2003. The conference will bring together engineers and scientists from diverse backgrounds to define the underlying principles of the emerging field of green engineering, including the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products that are feasible and economical while minimizing the generation of pollution and risk to human health and the environment.

This conference, cosponsored by AIChE, will demonstrate how various engineers have dealt with d the issues of green engineering from a discipline-specific viewpoint. Additional information on the conference can be found at or by contacting Martin Abraham, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies, College of Engineering, University of Toledo, OH; phone: (419) 530-8092, Fax: (419) 530-7392,


For more Conferences and Meetings, see the ASEE Calendar page at

Call for Papers

The annual meeting of the ASEE Illinois/Indiana Section will be held April 4-5, 2003 with the theme “Engineering the Future.” Held at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Ind., topics to be covered include multi-disciplinary courses, technology in the classroom, collaborative learning, graduate student preparation, junior college collaboration, and K-12 outreach programs. Deadline for submission of abstracts is December 20, 2002.

For more information, please visit

For more Calls for Papers - see

Illinois/Indiana Section—Alive and Flourishing

Are sectional conferences dying? The ASEE Illinois-Indiana Section doesn't think so. It is implementing new conference features that appeal to a broader spectrum of ASEE members.

Sectional conferences have a long-standing tradition of providing a forum similar to ASEE's national conference where engineering and engineering technology faculty can network and present peer-reviewed papers. At a time when networking with ASEE members occurred only at conferences, this format was enough to keep attendance high. But with the ability to network available from faculty offices and more members attending the national conference, some sectional conferences are finding themselves stagnating. The Illinois-Indiana (IL-IN) Section has actively taken steps to invigorate its sectional conference.

In 1995, the section began waiving registration fees for graduate students, which enables students interested in pursuing academic careers an affordable means of learning about ASEE and the opportunity to network with faculty members. In addition, a panel discussion on graduate career planning is offered. The panel, composed of faculty from various institutions, talks about how to look for an academic position, what it is like to be a faculty member, and how the tenure process works.

At the spring 2002 conference hosted by the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, the ASEE IL/IN student poster competition was born. The idea is to provide faculty with an opportunity to demonstrate their success at integrating teaming, communication, and engineering design by having their students exhibit their team-based design projects. The purpose is to provide engineering student teams with an opportunity to practice their visual, written, and oral communication skills in a conference environment and share their design work with students and faculty from other colleges and universities; to improve the visibility of student team design efforts, recognize excellence in student team design projects, and foster the sharing of ideas about team-based design projects among ASEE members in the IL/IN section.

A call for abstracts was sent to the section's engineering and engineering technology deans and department heads in January asking them to encourage faculty members to sponsor student teams. Student teams were instructed to write a one-page narrative giving the purpose and significance of the team project, the team structure, and a summary of the design and the most important results. Abstracts were reviewed by the session chair, revised by the students, and included in the conference proceedings. Eleven student teams representing six institutions attended the conference. The IL-IN Section plans to extend the competition to include undergraduate research.

There is another idea on the drawing board for the spring 2003 conference—a Graduate and Young Faculty Active/ Cooperative Learning Competition. The idea is to put out a call for abstracts in which a contestant would describe the engineering concept to be taught, the intended student audience, learning objectives, and the active or cooperative learning technique to be employed. The presentation format would allow contestants 20 minutes to teach the proposed engineering concept to conference attendees. These teaching vignettes would be interspersed with the traditional peer-reviewed paper presentations.

The IL-IN Section is also looking for opportunities to better include the community colleges in the section. A joint conference between Bradley University and Illinois Central College in Peoria, Ill., is being discussed for Spring 2004. ASEE's new memberships for K-12 teachers opens up completely new possibilities that the section will be considering.

Are sectional conferences dying? The IL-IN Section is not ready to roll over
just yet.