CFP: REES Annual Conference January 14 – 16 2025 (University of Texas at El Paso)

The Call for Papers for the Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES) 2025 is now open! Check this link for more information: www.rees2025.org.

REES will be hosted by the University of Texas at El Paso from January 14 – 16, 2025. We also organize a pre-conference Doctoral Symposium and Workshop for engineers building their capacity in Engineering Education Research on January 13.

The Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES) is the signature event of the international Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN) – https://reen.co/.

Abstract (200-300 words) submission deadline: April 19, 2024. Workshop and preconference calls will be announced later. Please consider submitting an abstract and share this call for abstracts with your colleagues.

Read the reflections of the past president on the 2024 conference.

For the latest news and discussion on EER join the REEN LinkedIn Group

Latest Development of Engineering Education Research in China: Observations and Reflections

Jiabin Zhu, School of Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University  

How to nurture the new discipline of engineering education? The Chinese engineering education community are actively piloting new efforts around the country.

With the unprecedented development of engineering education scale in China, engineering education research (EER) has attracted greater and broader interest from multiple stakeholders in the Chinese educational and industrial community. According to the international comparative data published by the National Science Foundation in the U.S., China has now boasted the second largest number for Bachelor’s degree recipients in Science and Engineering and the largest number for Ph.D. recipients in Science and Engineering. The large scale of engineering education practices calls for a systematic support from engineering education research.

A report by the editor of Chinese domestic journal for publishing engineering education research-Research in Higher Education of Engineering-has highlighted the significant roles for institutionalized engineering education research. In this report, Prof. Dongsheng Yu pointed out that EER can play a critical role in facilitating the policy-making for engineering educational reform and guiding the transformational pathways for engineering education.

At present, the Chinese Ministry of Education are actively exploring the innovative ways for training excellent engineers. The Chinese Ministry of Education (MoE) initiated the “Plan for Educating and Training Outstanding Engineers” in 2010 and the “Emerging Engineering Education” (EEE) plan in 2017 to produce high-quality engineers with global competitiveness to address the demands of transformation from a labor-intensive to a knowledge-intensive economy. Both plans emphasize advancing educational innovations in engineering education, calling for the use of new teaching and learning methods such as experiential learning, project/problem-based learning, and study abroad.

To support the further reform and exploration of engineering education practices, Prof. Yu put forwards suggestions to establish EER centers and departments across China. By attracting quality EER faculty members and educating graduate students in EER, the institutionalized EER community should pursue both fundamental EER research to develop the discipline of engineering education and application-oriented research to guide the educational practices.

The calling for institutionalized EER has been echoed by quite a few universities and colleges with a strong engineering educational history, such as Tsinghua University. With increased interest and practical needs nationally for EER, the Chinese Ministry of Education has issued a policy in 2022 to pilot the establishment of the Discipline of Engineering Education (DEE) among 10 Chinese universities, including TsingHua University, Zhejiang University, Beihang University, Tianjin University and others. These universities have piloted the establishment of the DEE in the schools of education.

In 2022, representatives from the ten universities have organized the National University Engineering Education Discipline Construction lead by Tsinghua University. The Alliance is expected to mobilize and further develop the national community for EER. In the 3rd Alliance meeting hosted in Nov. 2023, the vice president of Tsinghua University, Prof. Bin Yang stated that, “The Discipline of Engineering Education has a significant role for the new-round of industrialization in China, the practice of engineering educational reform, and the formation of engineering educational scholarly community”. The first president of the Alliance, Prof. Jian Li, has pointed out in the 3rd Alliance meeting that the Disciplines of Engineering Education has a historical mission for Chinese modernization by helping the development of excellent engineering talents.

Against this context, multiple universities have piloted various efforts in EER. One of the examples took place in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The transition between high school and undergraduate studies has been a difficult time for engineering students. These difficulties originate from the absence of suitable engineering curriculum and learning activities in the high school, middle school and primary school stages. To address this major challenge, the School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University has set up an initiative to research on the relevant topics. The establishment of a center on engineering education for high/middle schools and primary schools has signified the kick-off of these efforts.

To conclude, additional efforts are blooming nation-wide around EER and the establishment of the Discipline of Engineering Education in China. The scholarly communications around EER are growing with an unprecedented opportunity along with the fast development of Chinese engineering education. Meanwhile, many of these research and piloting practices will require devoted and concerted efforts from faculty members, graduate students, industrial representatives and other stakeholders, and a long time of testing to examine their effectiveness. The fast development of EER globally is now looking forward to a Chinese way of developing engineering education research and the discipline of engineering education.  

REES 2024, Hubbali, India – Reflections on an outstanding conference

Teresa Hattingh, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, REEN Chair (2022-2023)

The Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES) took place in Hubbali, India from the 4th to the 6th of  January 2024. The REES conference, the traditionally biannual conference of the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN) was hosted by KLE Technological University in collaboration with the Indo Universal Collaboration for Engineering Education. The theme for the conference was Connecting Research-Policy-Practice for Transforming Engineering Education and the keynotes, workshops, parallel sessions, and my personal favourite – the panel discussions – certainly brought together these different facets of the Engineering Education ecosystem, encouraging thought-provoking reflection and discussions. The REES 2024 conference overlapped with the ICTIEE (International Conference on Transformations in Engineering Education) conference which is held annually in India to support Engineering Education in the region. I was extremely fortunate to also attend this conference, leading up to REES, which highlighted the extensive and well-established communities of practice across India that are committed to teaching innovation and excellence. This also provided a distinct perspective on the interplay between Engineering Education and Engineering Education Research in different contexts.

Hubbali isthe education centre of the Karnataka state in India and KLE Technological University is central to the development of youth in the region. Interactions with staff and students and a fascinating tour of the laboratories showcased an obvious focus on teaching and learning excellence and developing entrepreneurs to take India into the future. Our laboratory tour took us on a walk through the beautiful campus at sunset. Although KLE Tech comes across as a modern oasis, the institution is over 75 years old. The care and rejuvenation of buildings is evident as old meets new and the campus evolves with the people and technology that fill its spaces. From immaculately kept gardens, fountains and water lily ponds to modern, reflective buildings, the campus creates tranquil spaces for thinking and dreaming. Inside these beautiful buildings is a hive of activity with students, even during the vacation period, excitedly working on projects in the extensive network of laboratories. Our tour meandered through laboratories including a state-of-the-art learning factory, a visual intelligence laboratory, a hub for entrepreneurship and an electric vehicle innovation centre. At each stop along the way, students and staff enthusiastically shared their projects and work and talked about their plans for the future. At the end of the tour, it was easy to see how KLE Tech (as it is familiarly known) drives innovation and economic growth in the region.

The conference itself was meticulously organised with flawless logistics and attention to detail. The tradition of Indian culture flowed through each experience from the exquisite saris worn by delegates, delicious Chai-Masala tea every morning and endless buffets of mouthwatering Indian cuisine to the lamp lighting ceremony and welcoming flowers and hand embroidered crafts for speakers at sessions. The warmth and hospitality of each person that I interacted with was overwhelming, filling each day with kindness and joy.

The REES conference is unique in that it is an independent and global conference that supports and promotes engineering education research. Our REEN network has grown over the past 10 years to become truly representative of engineering education research regions across the globe. It was therefore wonderful to bring REES to a new region where engineering education research is emerging and to discuss and debate how contextual differences influence the complexities and progression of the discipline as a whole. During my time on the REEN board, I have gained an understanding and empathy for the diverse needs of regions and the inter-relationship between regions in the global Engineering Education Research community. My time in India once again made me realise just how special every context is and the amazing experiences that India has to share about their collective engineering education research journey.  I am also proud of the role that REEN and REES have played in shaping this journey. The REES conference is undoubtedly a catalyst for the Engineering Education research discipline in India and I am confident that the established networks and communities and passion for engineering education in this region are the perfect environment for engineering education research to blossom.

This was my fourth REES conference and at each one, I have had the opportunity to meet and catch up with people. I have worked with members of the REEN board and the organising committee of REES 2024 for several years and it was the most wonderful experience to be able to see them, after many hours of online meetings, in person. I was also able to see old friends and colleagues. The conference was attended by several of our REEN board members and three past REEN presidents!

The entire REES conference format, which is unique and special, intentionally creates equal and inclusive spaces that break down barriers between delegates and facilitate deep engagement with ideas. As always, I have made many new friends at institutions across the globe and our interactions have inspired me to find ways to work together on new and existing projects. 

If you feel as if you missed an unforgettable event, you certainly did! Fortunately, the conference ended with an announcement of the next REES conference which will take place in early 2025 at The University of Texas at El Paso. 

This event promises to once again, bring together everyone passionate about engineering education research. From those new to the field to leading authors in the discipline, REES creates a welcoming  and collegial atmosphere where lasting friendships are formed and new collaborations are born. We hope to see you there!

Navigating ASEE 2023: Reflections on my Transformative Journey

Cristián Vargas-Ordóñez, Purdue University, The US

The ASEE 2023 conference in Baltimore, MD, marked a significant milestone in my Ph.D. journey, instilling in me a newfound sense of professional capability and ambition. Being a fifth-year Ph.D. student in Engineering Education, this event held particular significance, as it was only my second in-person conference since the pandemic had disrupted the academic world. The transition from online connections to real-world engagement was overwhelming, especially as a first-generation and English as Second Language (ESL), and international professional and researcher from Colombia in the U.S.. My initial foray into in-person conferences left me contemplating the profound impact of the absence of physical academic connections in my academic voyage. However, with my second in-person experience, I felt more at ease and learned the ropes of how these conferences operate. In this blog, I will share my personal journey at ASEE 2023 and provide valuable recommendations for fellow novice engineering education researchers who are just beginning to navigate the world of academic conferences.

Day 1 – Sunday, June 25th

On the first day, I had the honor of co-leading a workshop alongside my colleagues, Tiantian (Olivia) Li and Siqing Wei. The workshop focused on the co-creation of an outline for a handbook designed to guide faculty, staff, and international graduate students in supporting the thriving of the former group. Our utilization of the Funds of Identity framework led to thoughtful and reflective outcomes, advancing on advocating for international graduate students wellbeing in the U.S. I was particularly motivated by the genuine interest of the attendees in our work. In the afternoon, I participated in the Division Mixer, representing the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as representative of the Multidisciplinary Engineering Division. This experience reinforced my commitment to the work of promoting diversity and inclusion in engineering education research.

Day 2 – Monday, June 26th

Day 2 was marked by a series of memorable events. I presented a poster for the paper titled “Assessing Students’ Perspectives and Attitudes Toward Social Justice and Compassion in Civil Engineering (Work in Progress),” which is a collaborative project with Professors Marika Santagata and David Yu from the Lyles School of Engineering Education. The project sought to understand students’ perceptions regarding social justice and compassion. In the afternoon, I was part of a panel discussion on “Success in Engineering Education,” hosted by the Saint Vicent College, where I learned about various approaches taken by different schools in this field. Finally, I attended the business meeting of the Multidisciplinary Engineering Education Division and presented my progress as a delegate to the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Day 3 – Tuesday, June 27th

On the third day of the conference, I had the privilege of presenting our compelling work in progress, titled “Understanding International and Domestic Graduate Engineering Students’ Well-being: What They Need to Thrive?” I collaborated with Alejandro Baquero-Sierra from the College of Education and Stephen McBride and Jacqueline McDermott, Ph.D., the College of Engineering as co-authors. The reception was truly exceptional, as we received valuable feedback and witnessed an influx of new ideas that will undoubtedly shape the future directions of our research.

Day 4 – Wednesday, June 28th

During Day 4 at the conference, I found a unique platform to engage with K-12 educators. This opportunity allowed me to share some advancements in my research, a project that delves into the intersection of the arts and engineering. The focal point of my presentation was a captivating shadow puppetry activity, carefully designed to foster the concept of epistemic justice. As I presented my work, it was inspiring to witness the enthusiastic response from educators who recognized the potential of this innovative approach in enhancing learning experiences and promoting equitable access to knowledge. This interaction underscored the vital connection between the realms of arts and engineering and reinforced my commitment to pushing the boundaries of educational practices.

Outcomes

Before attending ASEE 2023, I had certain expectations. I anticipated networking opportunities and the chance to build a community of practice. I looked forward to the interchange of ideas and learning from experts in the field. To my delight, the conference not only met but exceeded my expectations in numerous ways. Throughout the event, I had the chance to connect with like-minded individuals and engage in meaningful dialogues that left me feeling inspired. More than merely networking, I found my niche within the EER community, a revelation that ignited a new sense of purpose in my academic journey. The conference served as a platform for me to explore fresh perspectives and envision the untapped potential for advancing my work. It was an invaluable opportunity to test my ideas and receive constructive feedback from my peers.

However, I also recognized that in my eagerness to make up for lost time during the pandemic, I had overloaded myself with work. This realization is a crucial lesson, and I understand the need to strike a better work-life balance in the coming year. Nevertheless, ASEE 2023 was a transformative experience that reinvigorated my academic journey and expanded my horizons.

 Recommendations and Future Expectations

For fellow researchers in Engineering Education Research, I offer the following recommendations:

  1. Pre-Conference Strategy: Carefully select the relevant divisions for your research and explore the roles they offer. Keep an eye on deadlines for abstracts, drafts, and final submissions. Remember, you don’t need to submit every year.
  2. Make a Plan: Outline your objectives and goals before traveling, ensuring you make the most of your time there.
  3. Embrace a Learning Mindset: Once in the conference, approach every interaction as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Keep your mind open to new ideas and fresh perspectives.
  4. Build Genuine Connections: Forge connections with fellow attendees based on a foundation of care and genuine interest, not just for utilitarian purposes.
  5. Respect Diverse Perspectives: Encourage a culture of open dialogue and inclusivity by respecting and valuing differing viewpoints. Embrace the diversity of thought that conferences bring to the table.
  6. Seek Sage Advice: Don’t hesitate to reach out to experienced scholars for guidance and insights, both in the lead-up to the conference and during the event. Their wealth of experience can be invaluable.
  7. Relax and Recharge: Conferences can be exhilarating, yet also overwhelming. Make it a point to take breaks and prioritize your well-being throughout the event. Choose social meetings of your interests. Each division hosts one and they are a good opportunity to relax and know good people.

As you conclude your conference experience, take a moment for reflection. Dive into the wealth of knowledge, connections, and inspiration you have gathered during this event. Reflect on the fresh perspectives that have broadened your horizons, the innovative ideas that have ignited your curiosity, and the profound conversations that have enriched your understanding. Consider how the conference has shaped your approach to research and ponder how the knowledge you have acquired and the relationships you have nurtured can be seamlessly integrated into your ongoing academic journey.

Lastly, but certainly not least, savor every step of this process. Recognize the hard work and dedication that have brought you to this point. You have earned this experience, and it is an essential part of your academic growth. Here’s to your continued success, and I look forward to potentially crossing paths with you in Portland next year.

Call for expressions of interest: REEN Board members representing North, Central and South America

Dear engineering education community,

On behalf of the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN) Governing Board, we are seeking nominations to fill two board positions. We are looking for individuals who are passionate about engineering education research and building capacity and representation in the following regions:
● North America (1 position)
● Central and South America (1 position)

We aim to fill these positions for terms running from January 2024 – December 2027.


The REEN Governing Board is responsible for implementing the mission and goals of REEN by providing strategic direction, continuity, and overall leadership in Engineering Education Research (EER). By doing this, REEN aims to help educators generate research on good practices and innovative approaches in education contexts, and through this, support the implementation of research-based approaches in engineering education. Further information can be obtained by visiting our website: https://www.reen.co/

REEN board members, each representing a particular region (see Figure 1), serve a four-year term (in this case, starting in 2024 and running until the end of 2027). Commitment includes a 1-hour meeting (held online) once a month, and members are also asked to provide time between monthly meetings for project work such as: supporting the REES symposium (e.g., reviewing abstracts and papers), developing special focus journal issues, supporting region-specific capacity development projects, and serving on project subcommittees.

How to apply?
If you are interested in being a REEN governing board member for one of these regions, please send the following information as a single Word or PDF file to Teresa Hattingh (teresah@uj.ac.za) – REEN Governing Board Chair, by 15 November 2023:
1. Motivation & Vision statement — approximately 200 words describing your involvement in EER and REEN, why you are interested in being on the REEN Governing board, and your vision for advancing EER in your area.
2. CV — up to two pages highlighting activity and accomplishments in EER to illustrate the perspectives, experience, expertise, and contributions you will bring.

Applications will be evaluated based on the five criteria elaborated below. Note that applicants do not need to have experience in every area to apply, though some exposure to and participation in REES or other REEN activities would be beneficial. Additionally, we are looking for your vision in advancing EER in your region.

We acknowledge that the extent and maturity level of EER varies in different regions. Alignment between the experience and interest of the applicant and the region for which they are applying will be considered in relation to how REEN can be leveraged for current regional needs. If you are unsure of whether you meet the criteria to apply, please do not hesitate to reach out to the REEN Governing Board chair so that we can provide further insight.

Interviews will be held with shortlisted participants. Announcements of results will be made after the selection process.
Please visit the REEN website to learn more about our work. Also, consider joining our mailing list or LinkedIn Group.

 

Navigating Borders and Nurturing Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Reflections and Advice for International Graduate Students with Diana Bairaktarova

Diana Bairaktarova, Virginia Tech, The US

My journey as an engineer and engineering educator and researcher has been intertwined with the experiences of countless professionals, academics, undergraduate and graduate students from all over the globe. These encounters have enriched my perspective on education, cultural diversity, and the transformative power of global collaboration. In this narrative, I share insights gained from these experiences and offer advice to international graduate students embarking on their academic endeavors.

Reflection on creative experiences

I grew up in Bulgaria during the grey times of the “Iron curtain” era but my world was painted with vibrant colors of curiosity and creativity.

Raised by progressive and supportive parents, I was gifted the freedom to explore and self-discover my passions. In the charm of my family’s home, I found solace in the embrace of words and numbers – poetry danced through my mind like whispered secrets, and geometry revealed the elegance hidden within shapes. But it was not just the intangible allure of poetry and mathematics that captured my heart; it was also the allure of objects that whispered tales of their history. The attic of my parents’ house became a treasure trove of forgotten artefacts. A pottery wheel, its surface kissed by dust, carried the traces of my dad’s dreams. Textbooks, once wielded by eager minds, now rested in quiet contemplation. Each discovery ignited a spark within my imagination, illuminating not only the past but also my own path forward.

With charcoal and paper, I painted my visions of the world, capturing its essence with each stroke. But because of the current regime my dream of attending art school remained unfulfilled. Undeterred, I embarked on a new journey, navigating the corridors of mathematics and engineering, where logic and precision took center stage. As the world around me evolved, I found myself straddling two worlds—the structured beauty of numbers and the ethereal dance of artistic expression. I channeled my artistic sensibilities into my engineering pursuits, crafting solutions that were not just functional but also elegant in their simplicity. I had become a mechanical engineer, melding my love for geometry, objects, and creative problem-solving. My parents’ unwavering support and my own determination had woven a unique tapestry of opportunities.

 Beyond expectations: Becoming an engineer

In the Technical University of Sofia, I embarked on a journey that would shape my life in unforeseen ways. Despite facing gender biases that loomed like shadows, I had resolved never to regret my decision to study mechanical engineering. My studies through the rigorous degree program were marked by both accomplishments and trials. I marveled at the mechanisms that powered the world around me and relished the challenges posed by complex equations and design projects. Yet, navigating a landscape dominated by skeptical eyes was no easy feat. My determination often collided with the prejudices of some engineering professors. Dubbed “the girl” in condescending whispers, I and my fellow female students were believed to be unfit for the realm of engineering solely due to our gender. Conversations were withheld, support seemed scarce, and doubts were sown like seeds. However, my spirit was unyielding. Rather than let these obstacles deter me, I channeled my frustration into fuel for my ambitions. Each dismissal, each skeptical glance, only intensified my resolve. I saw these challenges not as roadblocks but as steppingstones toward my goal. My hard work and perseverance began to shatter misconceptions and with every project I tackled, every exam I aced, I reclaimed my space in a field that had once doubted my presence. I had defied expectations, shattered stereotypes, and earned my place. My journey was not without its scars, but every challenge I overcame turned into a badge of honor. I knew that my accomplishment was not solely for myself; it was a victory for every aspiring engineer who had faced doubt because of their gender and upbringings.

 Crafting Dreams: The journey of an engineer-artisan

As I mentioned at the beginning of my narrative, from a younger age, my fingers danced with the magic of words, crafting stories that painted vivid landscapes in the minds of readers. Tinkering with sentences was an enchantment, but destiny had a different narrative in store. As I delved into the realm of how things work, a newfound passion bloomed. The artistry of language gave way to the artistry of design. Becoming an engineer was not merely a title—it was my evolution of identity. The shift was gradual, like the sunrise painting the sky with hues of possibility. I saw human-made objects not just as entities, but as extensions of creativity. As an engineer, I became a creator, shaping the contours of existence with precision and intention. The blank canvas was replaced with blueprints, and the words woven were of gears and mechanisms. With each design, I conceived a symphony of shapes and functions. The creative energy that once flowed through words now coursed through geometrical forms and structures. The power to transform abstract ideas into tangible realities became a source of exhilaration. Tinkering with things became a new art for me. I would spend hours absorbed in the rhythm of creation, sculpting metal, and materials into harmonious arrangements. This intersection of artistry and engineering sparked a fire that could not be contained.

Embracing the role of a design engineer, I embarked on a professional journey that mirrored a lifelong passion. Complex problems became puzzles to be solved, each solution crafted with precision and ingenuity. Spatial reasoning and artistic skills, once honed through words, now navigated through the intricacies of mechanical designs. The profession did more than fuel my creativity—it nurtured it. Engineering was not a departure from artistic inclinations; it was an embodiment of them. As an engineer, I was an artisan, using knowledge and skills to forge pathways between imagination and reality.

Symphony of Expertise: Flourishing in interdisciplinary harmony

In the bustling corridors of innovation, I found myself entwined in a symphony of diverse minds and expertise. My journey is one of transcending boundaries and discovering the immense creative power that emerges when different disciplines unite in harmonious collaboration. My career in industry and in academia is a tapestry woven with threads from across the world. While working in industry, on my interdisciplinary teams, I stood shoulder to shoulder with individuals who hailed from various cultures, fields, backgrounds, and educational paths. It was a canvas painted with myriad hues, each brushstroke adding depth to the masterpiece of collective brain.

In these settings, I witnessed the remarkable fusion of skills. My engineering colleagues were not just masters of equations and blueprints; they wielded a palette of “other” talents that embellished their technical prowess.

Every day was a revelation, a testament to the boundless potential that emerges when barriers crumble. I thrived in this chaos of creativity, where engineering solutions were crafted with the brushstrokes of artistic insight. But I knew that the journey was ongoing. Just as the symphony’s notes swirled and shifted, so did my growth. The interdisciplinary landscape was ever evolving, and every day was a new movement in the grand composition of my career.

A Symbiotic Symphony: Engineering, education, and the legacy of a father

In the tapestry of my life, threads of engineering and education were interwoven with vibrant hues of inspiration and legacy. My educational journey is a testament to the profound impact of a father’s influence, the synergy of disciplines, and the pursuit of passion. The year 2009 marked a pivotal juncture – my heart was weighed down by the loss of my father—a man who had shaped my world with his wisdom and guidance. He had kindled in me a love for both learning and creativity, having been a revered teacher and pottery artisan for nearly four decades. Guided by my father’s memory, my path unfolded in an unexpected direction. Purdue University’s Engineering Education PhD program beckoned a pathway that converged my adoration for engineering with my appreciation for education. A journey, not just of academia, but of honoring my father’s legacy. The marriage of engineering and education breathed life into my aspirations. Through my father’s teachings, I had glimpsed the intricate dance between the human mind and the creations it births. By the end of 2009, my trajectory shifted. Leaving my design engineer job, at the age of close to 40, I stepped into the School of Engineering Education. My decision was driven by a profound sense of creativity—a thirst for change that would tether me closer to my father’s essence. In this act of transformation, I found solace, believing that every lecture, every research endeavor, was a whisper of connection to my father’s legacy.

Becoming an educator and researcher was more than a profession; it was a spiritual journey. As I walked in the footsteps of my father, I drew inspiration from the lives he had touched. Like him, I yearn to make a difference in the lives of my students, molding their minds and igniting their passions. Being an engineering educator and researcher, my quest deepened. Through my studies, I sought to unravel the delicate interplay between human minds and objects crafted by human hands. My journey culminated in a beautiful paradox—a harmonious symphony of education and engineering, and an unwavering connection to my father’s spirit. With the legacy of his teachings, I guide my students towards self-discovery and expression just as my father did for generations.

Lessons learned

Reflecting upon my life’s chapters, hopefully becomes clear that my journey is far from a static pinnacle, rather, it is a voyage of perpetual exploration and an embrace of change. I hope my narrative highlights that the boundless realm of true creative potential thrives in environments that celebrate diversity and nurture interdisciplinarity.

Resilience, passion, and a steadfast refusal to be confined by stereotypes hold the key for me to transforming adversity into achievement. I hope my journey is a reminder that even when confronted with challenges, the flames of passion and creativity can persistently burn bright. And remember that your journey as international graduate students is unique, and you have the chance to create your own narrative filled with accomplishments, challenges overcome, and meaningful contributions.  Stay curious and adaptable, transcend borders, and immerse yourself in a global academic community. Here is some advice based on the lessons I have learned so far:

  • Embrace your curiosity and creativity: Just like my childhood fascination with objects and artistic expression, embrace your own curiosity and creative passions. Don’t be afraid to explore unconventional paths and integrate your interests into your academic pursuits.
  • Face adversity with determination: Turn challenges into steppingstones rather than roadblocks. Remember that determination, resilience, and a refusal to conform to stereotypes can help you overcome obstacles and excel in your field.
  • Find your unique intersection: Seek out the areas where your passions and academic discipline intersect. This convergence can lead to innovative solutions and opportunities that set you apart in your field.
  • Engage in interdisciplinary collaboration: Engage with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and fields to enrich your own perspective and discover new avenues for exploration.
  • Honoring legacy and values: Whether it’s cultural heritage, family traditions, or personal values, integrating these aspects into your academic pursuits can add depth and purpose to your work.
  • Adapt to cultural transitions: You may face cultural adjustments. Embrace these transitions as opportunities for personal growth, cross-cultural learning, and expanding your global perspective.
  • Make connections across borders: Create connections and build relationships with people from various backgrounds and cultures. Networking with fellow students, professors, and professionals can help you establish a global network that enriches your academic journey and future career.
  • Balance tradition and innovation: As you blend tradition and innovation, remember that both have value. Draw from your cultural heritage while also exploring new ideas and approaches, contributing to a diverse and dynamic academic environment.
  • Pursue lifelong learning: Growth is a continuous process. Embrace lifelong learning, explore new horizons, and stay open to evolving your interests and skills throughout your academic and professional career.
  • Leave your mark: Strive to make a positive impact on those around you. Share your knowledge, mentor others, and contribute to your field in meaningful ways.
  • Value diversity and inclusion: Embrace the power of diversity and inclusivity in your academic and personal interactions. Respect and learn from people of different backgrounds, and actively contribute to creating an inclusive and welcoming community.
  • Embrace change and uncertainty: Be open to change and uncertainty. These moments can lead to unexpected opportunities and personal growth that shape your academic and professional trajectory.

Final words

As I gaze upon the pottery wheel, the dusty textbooks, and the enigmatic antiques, I am reminded that the objects that once ignited my imagination still carry the magic that propels me forward. Today, I stand as a testament to the dynamic synergy of interdisciplinary fusion and the enduring impact of a father’s love. My journey underscores that our roots, when cherished, and our curiosities, when embraced, lead not only to personal growth but also to an imprint on the hearts and minds of those who follow our paths. May my experiences inspire you, spark your own journey to transcend borders and embrace the enriching tapestry of global academia. As you traverse new territories of learning, may you, too, draw your mark on the world with determination, passion, and boundless creativity.

 

Join us for the next REEN webinar: Reviewing Engineering Education Research Papers

On September 27th, 2023, the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN) team will be running an interactive online workshop on reviewing engineering education research papers. The workshop is facilitated by Scott Daniel and Helen Inglis, who will be joined via chat by REEN colleagues.

Reviewing papers is a great way to improve your writing – we welcome participants who have not reviewed before or have specific questions about reviewing.
In this session, the team will be discussing

  • How the conference review process works
  • How to write a helpful review (and not be Reviewer 2!)
  • How to help the conference committee make the right decision

The session is timed to help participants prepare to review papers for the upcoming REES Conference in India but is open to all. Please share this with colleagues you think will find this useful. 

When? September 27th, 2023

  • 12:30 – 14:00 Kolkata (IST)
  • 09:00 – 10:30 Johannesburg (SAST)
  • 17:00 – 18:30 Brisbane (AEST)

Please register your details below, and we will send a calendar invite with the Zoom link. Attached is a flyer for the workshop. 
https://bit.ly/REEN2023_ReviewWorkshop

Requirements for the workshop

We recommend using two devices (e.g. phone and a laptop) or two screens as we will have some audience participation through Mentimeter.
In the session, we will be critiquing the attached reviews, so be sure to have the document handy to look at.

Looking forward to interacting with you! 

Finding Your Community: the journey of one Engineering Education Researcher

Rebecca Broadbent, Aston University, The UK

The idea of the Newer Researcher Network was born in 2015, when I was a PhD student taking my first steps into the field of Engineering Education Research (EER). The Newer Researcher Network is part of the UK and Ireland Engineering Education Research Network (EERN) and it supports the development and voice of newer researchers within the field of engineering education. It is a community of those who are new to educational research, no matter where they are on their career journey.

I began my PhD in 2012, transitioning from engineering research to Engineering Education Research (EER). My background is Mechanical Engineering but I found that my passion is engineering education during outreach activities I helped to deliver as a student. I went on to undertake a part-time PhD, focused on the influence of engineering education activities on children’s engineering career aspirations, whilst working on educational projects across the UK that engaged a range of communities with engineering.

 

I loved that transition in my studies but it was not easy; I remember sitting with a dictionary looking up so many of the words I read as I delved into papers from the fields of sociology, psychology and education. It was like a new language to me. I was incredibly lucky to have had supervisors who encouraged me to participate in EERN activities which gave me a place to explore the concepts and methodologies I was reading about, and I was later invited to be a PhD student representative on the network committee. Something that I find fascinating (and heart-warming) about EER is the diversity of those involved in this endeavour. Scholars from a range of backgrounds including engineering, sociology and education, all come together with the objective of understanding and developing education for engineers globally. With this in mind, how could I as a single PhD student represent all those different voices?  More importantly, how could the EERN support this group who all take such different routes to this field? Thus, the Newer Researcher Network came into being formally, with myself and Dr Folashade Akinmolayan Taiwo co-founding and launching this community at the EERN Symposium in May 2018.

Our community began by hosting Meet and Greet events at the annual EERN symposium, providing a friendly and informal space for researchers who were new to EER to find each other and discuss their work, celebrate successes, access resources, and find support. This led to the network running workshops focused on specific topics identified by our members, including mental wellbeing for newer researchers and making your voice heard in online conferences. In addition, the network also organised online events where newer researchers could present their work and gain feedback from a range of different people within the field, thus supporting individual’s development and EER outputs. I became the first Chair of the Newer Researcher Network Committee in 2017 and stepped down from this role in 2021, with Professor Mo Zandi taking on the role and continuing to support and develop the community we have built. 

Watching the Newer Researcher community grow over this time, as well as hearing the feedback from members of the community and seeing their progress, has been an incredibly rewarding experience. The community comprises incredibly talented, passionate, compassionate people. Being part of this network continually provided me with support and opportunities for growth and challenged the way I thought, not only enabling me to develop my research but also my teaching, through bringing innovations and improvements to my classes. 

In addition, it has enabled me to develop my aspirations within academia. Leading a network of such a supportive, empowering community helped me understand the role that I wanted mentoring and the development of others to play within my career. The opportunities to learn and develop these skills through my role on the EERN have been instrumental in helping me develop as a leader and step-up to the opportunities and challenges that academia has provided me so far. Being involved in the EERN as a PhD student provided me with a research community who welcomed me and made me feel as though I belonged. I am glad that I have been able to give my time and energy to do the same for others and I hope that the network continues to provide this community of critical friends for years to come, continuing to forge wonderful professional relationships and friendships across the diverse community of researchers within EER.

Using the Engineering Ethics Toolkit in your teaching

Dr. Sarah Jayne Hitt (NMITE, Edinburgh Napier University, Engineering Professors)

In March 2022, the UK’s Engineering Professors Council (EPC) launched the Engineering Ethics Toolkit to provide engineering educators with ready-to-use classroom resources and support in integrating ethics into their teaching. In March 2023, many additional Toolkit materials were launched to help educators understand, plan for, and implement ethics learning across engineering curricula. These are all found at https://epc.ac.uk/resources/toolkit/ethics-toolkit/ 

The Toolkit is a project supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and complements its efforts to ensure that ethics is fully embedded in UK engineering education, training, and professional development. Guided by an advisory group of passionate engineering academics and leaders, the Toolkit resources have been created to highlight current and emerging real-world issues that learners can engage with from multiple disciplinary and ethical perspectives. For instance, one case considers the ethical and technical issues surrounding a chatbot developed by a small company to provide support services in a high school, and encourages students to consider how they might balance concerns about privacy and quality of data, as well as to weigh business imperatives alongside child wellbeing. A supplementary case enhancement provides an outline of a mapping activity that educators can use in the classroom to guide students in eliciting the value assumptions and motivations of different stakeholders in the dilemma as a method of making an ethical decision. Guidance articles are also available to help educators understand the context of ethics in engineering, and to provide suggestions for things like managing tough topics in discussion or applying an activity in a large section. 

These resources were developed by academic and industry professionals working in a variety of fields across three continents and representing career stages from Master’s student through company founder. Through a process of collaboration and review, the advisory group ensured that they adhered to current scholarship and established good practice in engineering ethics education. 

Another innovative recent addition to the Toolkit is the Ethics Explorer, an interactive tool that helps educators understand, plan for, and implement ethics learning across engineering curricula and showcases its alignment with accreditation criteria and graduate attributes. Further interactivity is promoted through the establishment of a community of practice called the Ethics Ambassadors.

Getting involved or simply using the Toolkit materials supports educators in their own professional development towards research-based teaching, active learning, and values-centered practice. After all, embedding ethics in engineering teaching complements institutional efforts towards interdisciplinarity, sustainability, EDI, and community engagement. And ethics education also links to national and international initiatives towards social and environmental responsibility.

The Engineering Ethics Toolkit has already received a lot of international traffic and is one of the most visited portions of the EPC website. We hope that even more people will engage with its resources and get involved: join the Ethics Ambassadors community to hear about forthcoming Engineering Ethics Toolkit features and events, including workshops, trainings, awards, and a dedicated search function. You can even tell us how you’ve used the toolkit in your teaching, contribute or review resources, or write a blog. Visit https://epc.ac.uk/resources/toolkit/ethics-toolkit/engineering-ethics-toolkit-get-involved/ for more information.

Transforming Engineering Education and Research in India: looking forward to REES 2024!

Rohit Kandakatla and Sohum Sohoni

India is home to more than 2500 engineering colleges producing approximately 1.5 million engineering graduates annually. However, only 5% of the engineers graduate from nationally reputed government led institutions such as the Indian Institute’s of Technology (IITs) and National Institute’s of Technology (NITs), which have been established in different geographic locations of the country. The rest of the engineers graduate from privately funded colleges, which have mostly been established in the last two decades, as a result of the change in government policies to privatize higher education in India.

As reported by the “National Employability Report for Engineers 2019”, 80% of these engineering graduates are not suitable for employment after graduation, as they lack the required skills and mindset to work in the industry. Most of these institutions belong to private category and the statistics from the National Employability Report reflects the quality of engineering education they offer. The poor quality of engineering education can be attributed to multiple factors such as bad infrastructure, antiquated curriculum, lack of good faculty, students’ motivation to pursue engineering, etc.

The liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991 led a large number of international companies to enter the Indian markets. This coupled with the internet and software revolution a few years later led to a large number of IT services companies established in the country. The government’s foresight to prepare India’s youth for these emerging opportunities led to change in policies to allow the privatisation of higher education. India witnessed an exponential growth in number of engineering colleges since early 2000’s, with most of them being affiliated to a local government funded university, which prescribes the academic regulations, curriculum structure, course syllabus, and assessment process.

The Indian government in the last decade have reoriented their focus from quantity to quality to engineering education in the country in India. They have formed multiple regulatory and accreditation bodies that prescribe quality benchmarks that need to be adhered to by engineering colleges. The government has also launched national level ranking for engineering institutions to create a healthy competition among institutions and encourage them to aspire for high quality standards. Apart from the government, the transformation of engineering education in India was also led by professional organizations such as the The Indo-Universal Collaboration for Engineering Education(IUCEE).

IUCEE was founded in 2007 with the mission of improving the engineering education ecosystem in India. IUCEE predominantly works with tier-2 and tier-3 engineering colleges in India, providing various programs that aim to improve outcomes for students, faculty and the leadership at these institutions. IUCEE has also supported the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning through its annual conference, the Journal of Engineering Education Transformations, and courses on research writing, research methods, and a year-long course in engineering education research. Transforming an ecosystem and collective mindsets requires extensive efforts, and IUCEE has experimented with several initiatives in outcomes-based education, project-based learning etc. engaging several dozens of institutions in India.

In 2020, India announced the National Education Policy (NEP) which aimed to reform and transform its entire education system. NEP 2020 was designed with a principle to nurture India’s next generation into good human beings who are capable of rational thought and action, who are compassionate and empathetic, who are courageous and resilient, and possess scientific temper, creative imagination, and sound ethical values. It aims to produce engaged and productive citizens who would contribute to the development of an equitable, inclusive, and plural society as envisaged by our constitution.

Engineering education in India, now, needs to transform itself in alignment with the vision of NEP2020 and it needs to be led through systematic reflection, research, and practice. However, the aspirations of NEP are difficult to quantify and measure, and high quality research in engineering education especially qualitative methods in human-subjects research can serve as the necessary foundation for assessing progress on what NEP aims to achieve. The hosting of REES 2024i n India is therefore timely as it allows engineering educators in India to engage in thoughtful discussions with global engineering education researchers and develop a collective understanding on the potential directions engineering education research in India.