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ON THE SHELF - Reviewed by Robin Tatu

Letter From the President
Our Role Expands

Engineering education becomes a K-20 systems issue.

Walter Buchanan

By Walter Buchanan

The Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, now the American Society for Engineering Education, was created in 1893 and is one of the oldest engineering societies in America. Over the past century, ASEE has played a significant role in shaping engineering curricula, improving teaching methods and academic quality, and influencing national policy on engineering education. As engineers, we are trained to approach problems in a systematic way, and we have a history of being successful. This success has raised the standard of living in countries like the United States, but to keep progressing in a globally competitive environment we need more – and greater diversity among – engineers. ASEE’s key role in answering the demand for graduates will only continue to grow.

During the past decade in particular, this role has expanded significantly to include students in grades K-12. Again, ASEE is leading the way, with a number of resources directed at this effort. Engineering, Go for It is a great start for increasing awareness of engineering careers. The K-12 Workshop at the annual conference gives hundreds of teachers each year the opportunity to learn about engineering in and out of the classroom. And the nearly 800 members of the K-12 and Precollege Division actively participate in research and the practice of engineering in K-12 classrooms. Members not only present 100 papers each year at the conference, but they also work throughout the year in K-12 schools, conducting research, establishing effective practices, training teachers, and increasing knowledge of engineering — primarily supported by public and private funding.

K-12 and Precollege Division members are largely discipline engineers working in higher education who use their engineering skills in the K-12 classroom. Starting in kindergarten and continuing through high school, they work with teachers, students, and parents to teach engineering as a process for problem solving, systems thinking, and collaboration. Constraints, criteria, and failure are used as ways to frame problems and solutions. While pre-engineering classes exist at the middle and high school levels, engineering is taught most often as an integrator of other subjects. In other words, students use the math, science, language arts, social studies, and arts topics they are taught to solve contextual problems using engineering design. Context and application are important: Research indicates students decide whether they like math and/or science in mid-elementary school. Therefore, our early involvement is essential for students to not only learn about engineering as a process but also as a potential career because their familiarity with it positions them to make informed choices about their post-secondary lives. Efforts to expand engineering and technological literacy in K-12 classrooms are both strategic and appealing, as investment supporting research and practice continues to increase significantly each year.

The Next Generation Science Standards currently under development provide a unique opportunity for engineering educators to have a direct impact on student achievement and career choices. With the addition of attributes of engineering design to these standards, we have the potential to reach most students in this country. Our K-12 division colleagues have established ASEE as a center of competency for K-12 engineering, with members participating in virtually every level of science, engineering, and STEM policy, research, and practice. Through their work, and the work of ASEE members in general, the awareness of engineering as a distinct field of study will increase.

By investing our expertise in developing engineering awareness and habits of mind from the start of a student’s academic journey through high school, we are strategically addressing the need for a broader, more diverse pool of undergraduates. - Walter Buchanan

ASEE is uniquely positioned to influence efforts to increase the general public’s engineering and technological literacy, both necessary for success in the 21st century. By exposing more students at earlier ages to what engineers and engineering technologists do to advance society, we are equipping them to enter a profession with tremendous potential to not only produce a good living but also to change the world.

Engineers in both industry and higher education must collaborate to create an environment ensuring that by the first year of high school, every American student will:

  • Be aware of the opportunities and income potential in engineering and engineering-related fields;
  • Know the educational qualifications for these positions;
  • Have the opportunity to interact, virtually and face-to-face, with engineers to learn about their jobs, educational experiences, and the industry or university where they work;
  • Be able to identify qualified universities that enable them to obtain the skills for these positions.

This is an ambitious list, but our students should have every question answered and be able to prepare for their careers while in high school. It will require teamwork and assistance, but we are fortunate that engineers have a record of success.

ASEE is ideally positioned to take steps to meet this goal. By investing our expertise in developing engineering awareness and habits of mind beginning at the start of a student’s academic journey and continuing through high school graduation, we are strategically addressing the need to create a broader, more diverse talent pool of undergraduates who will choose engineering and engineering-related fields as their careers.

These actions will help us remain a leader in engineering education for the 21st century and beyond.

Walter Buchanan is president of ASEE.





Officer and Innovator

Outstanding Teacher Col. Bobby Grant Crawford

Col. Bobby Grant Crawford and Don Giddens, ASEE's Immediate Past PresidentThere’s hands-on learning, and then there’s the seat-of-the-pants lesson gained inside a cockpit, where textbook-based calculations don’t always match the data and measurements of an actual flight. “The common misperception is that the equations and theories always give the right number,” Associate Prof. Bobby Grant Crawford tells his West Point mechanical engineering students. “There are eddies and currents that affect the aircraft. Theory is useful, but real life is unpredictable.”

Whether encouraging students to “wiggle the stick” of an aircraft or compete in an unmanned vehicle competition, Crawford, a seasoned pilot, Army colonel, and winner of ASEE’s 2012 National Outstanding Teaching award, gives them a taste of real life while opening up, in his words, “new and exciting realms where they have never traveled.” Described as “the consummate educator” by a colleague, Col. Daisie Boettner, he has helped scores of U.S. Military Academy undergraduates navigate a steady engineering path over the past 11 years through a combination of engaging projects, rapport, and personal example.

Now head of USMA’s mechanical engineering program, Crawford began honing his teaching skills as a junior officer and West Point instructor in 1995, fresh from earning a master’s in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech. Six years later, he was tapped for a fully funded Ph.D. program at the University of Kansas, and he joined the USMA’s permanent faculty in 2004. He has taught 14 different courses and advised more than 100 students in independent study and senior capstone design projects. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, he developed a 48-lesson aeronautics course and textbook for undergraduate trainees of the fledgling Afghan Air Corps.

The numerous curriculum changes he has led include combining fluid mechanics and thermodynamics into a two-course sequence and designing a mechanical engineering sequence for humanities majors. He also was instrumental in improving the engineering program’s manufacturing and lab capacity, personally procuring funding for a laser cutter/engraver and other equipment. An avid woodworker, Crawford launched an annual contest — in which he competes alongside students – to design and manufacture class-ring containers.

Crawford’s most important innovation, however, may be the classroom environment he creates with hands-on demonstrations — such as taking his aircraft performance class up in one of the mechanical engineering department’s two planes — and attention to each student’s learning style and interests. “It’s easy to be the expert in a subject, but it’s hard to develop the rapport, to engage the students and help them gain that knowledge,” Crawford explains. To break the ice, he regularly begins class by asking students what they want to know about mechanical engineering, the Army, or anything else. A typical question: What’s it like to fly a helicopter? He also administers a learning-styles inventory to identify how students absorb information — most are visual or sequential learners — and uses the opportunity to ask about their interests and lives.

This rapport-building didn’t come naturally. “I had to get out of my comfort zone,” says Crawford, an introvert who plans classes with minute-by-minute precision. But by now, he’s able to convey his own excitement. “Colonel Crawford’s enthusiasm for heat transfer is contagious,” wrote Jill Seidel, a mechanical engineering major in the West Point class of 2007, in a letter of support for his award.

Crawford, chair of ASEE’s Zone 1 Council of Sections, says he will “work with students to the bitter end” if they are motivated to stick with engineering. And he doesn’t leave motivation totally up to chance. One of his past ASEE conference papers is titled, “Teaching Mechanical Engineering to the Highly Uninspired.”

Mary Lord, deputy editor of Prism.





ASEE campus representatives were honored at the annual conference for their success in recruiting new members at their schools. Societywide winners were Wayne Davis, dean of engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and James Moore, associate dean of engineering at the University of Southern California, who shared top honors for most new members recruited. Robert Nelson, from the University of Wisconsin Stout, took the award for highest percentage faculty membership. Accepting for Nelson were incoming campus representatives Cheng Liu and Dean Jeffrey Anderson.

On the heels of this very successful year for campus reps, ASEE is launching a concerted, yearlong drive to attract new members. While membership numbers in recent years have neared record levels, ASEE’s “market share” of engineering and engineering technology faculty is lower than it could be.

Titled “ASEE Is Me,” the new campaign aims to communicate creatively and broadly the benefits of belonging to the premier engineering education society working across all disciplines. The campaign features engaged, high-achieving current members describing, in their own words, such professional benefits as networking opportunities, quality publications, and assistance in balancing competing professional priorities.

ASEE has developed a website – – specifically for the campaign and created several short videos compiled from on-camera interviews conducted among attendees at the 2012 annual conference. Different marketing strategies will be used to reach a variety of cohorts. ASEE has gathered testimonials from a cross section of members, diverse with respect to race, age, institution type, geographic region, and job title. In an effort to appeal to Research 1 faculty, for example, ASEE will feature Ann McKenna of Arizona State University stating, “Interactions at the annual conference help enhance my teaching and inform thinking about new directions for research.”

Various media and publication outlets have been identified with the aim of maximizing value on advertising buys and staff time. Members’ outreach ideas are welcome.

Nathan Kahl, ASEE director of communications.





PHOTOS FROM TOP LEFT: K12 Workshop, Plenary II PIC III Best Paper winners, International Forum, Plenary I Speaker Corlis Murray, Awards Banquet, Distinguished Lecturer Randal Pinkett, NSF Poster Session, Two-Year Model Design CompetitionOrganized around the theme “Spurring Big Ideas in Education,” ASEE’s 119th Annual Conference & Exposition combined a packed schedule of workshops, lectures, and panels with popular new events and off-hours strolls along San Antonio’s famed River Walk. A festive Division Mixer, spotlighting the work of numerous divisions, promises to be a keeper, as does the Main Plenary II, featuring the previous year’s Best Paper winners. Headliners included engineer-entrepreneur Randal Pinkett, a winner on TV’s The Apprentice, and Northrop Grumman’s Charles Volk.

The June 10-13 conference was preceded by ASEE’s inaugural International Forum, presented in collaboration with sister engineering education societies from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Malaysia, and the ninth annual K-12 Workshop on Engineering Education, where teachers plunged into hands-on activities they will take to their classrooms.

A large exhibition hall, showcasing the educational material and technology produced by ASEE’s corporate partners, provided a convenient venue for both poster presentations and the Meet the Board forum.

Besides the nightly E-newsletter, Conference Connection, this year’s gathering introduced ASEE TV, bringing interviews with key participants to attendees’ hotel rooms.

The conference culminated with the traditional Awards Banquet, installation of new board members, and a passing of the president’s gavel from Don P. Giddens to Walter Buchanan. Find more photos at

PHOTOS FROM TOP LEFT: K12 Workshop, Plenary II PIC III Best Paper winners, International Forum, Plenary I Speaker Corlis Murray, Awards Banquet, Distinguished Lecturer Randal Pinkett, NSF Poster Session, Two-Year Model Design Competition




ASEE has launched a retention and time-to-graduation survey of engineering schools that will allow schools for the first time to measure their success against both a national benchmark and aggregate retention rates of selected peers. Currently, there is no public source at the national level of engineering retention rates and time to graduation. Reliable, broad-based data are essential for developing successful retention strategies.

Begun June 21, the survey asked participating schools to complete an institutional profile with information on admissions processes; the year that students enroll; types of programs that add time to graduation, such as co-op, dual-degree, or combined B.S./M.S. degree programs, and whether the school is public or private. This information will allow ASEE to develop a benchmark report that takes into consideration institutional characteristics that affect student retention and time to graduation.

After schools completed their profile, they downloaded a survey that is tailored to their school’s policy as to when they enroll students. A school that enrolls students during freshman, sophomore, and junior years will download a survey with data entry tabs for freshman, sophomore, and junior cohorts. A school that enrolls students during freshman year only will download a survey that contains only a freshman data entry tab. Schools create cohorts based on when students enter the school of engineering, and from that point on, no new students may be added to a cohort. Students are tracked to graduation for up to eight years. Transfer students are tracked separately.

ASEE will develop a benchmark report and will show aggregate data. Also, schools that participate in the survey will be able to log on to the survey and create aggregate reports based on their own selected peers. Schools will know the aggregate retention rate of their selected peers and their retention rank among their selected peers but will not know the rank of other schools.

The survey was part of a larger, ongoing ASEE study of student retention funded by Intel and the Sloan Foundation. The study includes a new ASEE report, “Going the Distance,” documenting more than 60 strategies and practices that were identified as effective in retaining students in engineering.

Brian L. Yoder, ASEE director of analysis, evaluation, and institutional research






San Antonio Riverwalk

From safe tap water to cellphone apps, engineering’s impact on daily life is obvious. Yet relatively few Americans — including science teachers and their students — know what engineers do or the fulfilling opportunities an engineering education can provide.

A new vision for K-12 STEM education now percolating in states could shatter that status quo. And engineering educators have a pivotal role as change agents. This summer, ASEE became a “critical stakeholder” in the nationwide effort to develop radically different science standards, with engineering as a fourth branch of science. That means members can help shape the way engineering and design are worked into science curricula across the country and ensure that future undergraduates become familiar with the field. “It’s a big opportunity that we shouldn’t squander,” says Elizabeth Parry, K-12 and Precollege Division chair and head of the recently formed ASEE committee overseeing this effort. Participants include two deans and two corporate members as well as K-12 division members. “We don’t want to be bystanders,” Parry adds. “We’re using our expertise and looking at the system and re-engineering it.”

The Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS) represent a dramatic departure from current content standards. Based on a conceptual framework for K-12 science developed by the National Research Council, the NGSS emphasize broad, discipline-spanning concepts and put engineering practices on a par with traditional sciences. The terms “engineering” and “design” figure prominently, as do raised expectations that students must “do” science and engineering, not merely study them.

Only one of the 41 lead authors is an engineer, however. And a first public NGSS draft, released in June, contained few engineering specifics. By getting in on the NGSS ground floor as critical stakeholders, engineering educators can review the draft standards, suggest revisions, and help K-12 teachers incorporate authentic experiences and practices.

Some 26 states have pledged to consider adopting the new standards, which are being written by content experts and teachers in a process being managed by Achieve, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. Achieve expects to release two more drafts for public review before submitting the NGSS to states for approval. Even if engineering schools end up with only “a bump” in enrollment, Parry argues, “we’ll have more citizens who are scientifically and engineering literate.” That is why she hopes engineering educators will support the NGSS at the local and state levels. “It’s critical that engineering educators speak as one voice about what engineering is and what it can do for society.”

Mary Lord





View the 2012 ASEE National and Society AwardsPDF (2MB)





All Divisions are ‘Publish to Present’

With a few exceptions, all conference papers must be submitted for peer review in order to be presented at the conference and, subsequently, published in the conference proceedings.

The process for the submission of ASEE annual conference papers is as follows: All authors must submit an abstract of their papers, to be reviewed and evaluated. Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit a full paper draft to be reviewed by three engineering educators. A draft may be accepted as submitted, accepted with minor changes or major changes, or rejected. Successful review and acceptance of the full paper draft will produce a final paper to be presented at the annual conference. Exceptions to the “Publish to Present” requirement include invited speakers and panels.

Here are important dates in the process:

Sept. 21, 2012 — Deadline for abstract submission

Oct. 5, 2012 — Deadline for accepting or rejecting abstracts

Dec. 7, 2012 — Deadline for submission of draft paper

March 15, 2013 — Deadline for accepting or rejecting draft papers, or accepting draft papers pending changes

March 29, 2013 — Deadline for submitting final papers or revised draft papers

Abstracts for the conference must be submitted via ASEE’s web-based conference abstract/paper submission system, Monolith.

Go to the conference website to learn more and see the full Call for Papers from each ASEE division.






Prism and eGFI – Engineering, Go For It have together won 19 awards so far this year. The prizes include one for the eGFI teachers’ newsletter – ASEE’s first award for an electronic newsletter.


Distinguished Achievement Award winners:

  • Lung-I Lo, Prism cover design “Wheel of Hope,” October 2011
  • Stacie Harrison, eGFI Magazine 5th Edition, Pre K-12 Publication Design

Distinguished Achievement Award finalist:

  • Thomas K. Grose, Prism feature article “Hot Courses,” May-June 2011


Grand Award:

  • eGFI Magazine 5th Edition

Awards of Excellence:

  • eGFI Teachers Newsletter Team, The eGFI Teachers’ Newsletter
  • Joseph Wharton, print advertisement
  • Stacie Harrison, Prism cover design, “Meet the Freshmen of 2020,” January 2012
  • Mary Lord, Prism feature writing, “A Deeper Partnership,” January 2012
  • Thomas K. Grose, Prism news writing, “Get Fracking,” September 2011

The Communicator Awards

Gold Award of Excellence:

  • Don Boroughs, Prism feature article, “African Phoenix,” October 2011
  • Mary Lord, Prism feature article, “Preparing Future Engineers Around the World,” February 2011.
  • Jaimie Schock, Prism feature article, “Secrets Are Out,” October 2011

Silver Award of Distinction:

  • eGFI Magazine 5th Edition
  • Prism design, “Preparing Future Engineers Around the World,” February 2011
  • Prism cover design, “What They Like,” Summer 2011
  • Prism cover design, “Tour de Force,” September 2011
  • Prism cover design “Wheel of Hope,” October 2011
  • Prism feature article, “The Interdisciplinarian,”April 2011
  • Prism feature article, “Get Fracking,” September 2011




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