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ASEE Connections
January 2014 Subscribe
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In This Issue:
  • DATABYTES
    • Top Awarders of Engineering Doctorate Degrees


  • CONGRESSIONAL HOTLINE
    • STEM Education Needs Government Help, House Panel Told
    • U.S. Lagging in Commercial Drone Boom, Duke Prof Tells Senate
    • The Congressional Roll Call is a Rich List


  • THE K-12 REPORT
    • A New Type of STEM School Set to Open in Illinois
    • San Francisco's Om-Approach to Fixing Broken Schools


  • JEE SELECTS
    • Virtues of Virtual Labs


  • JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
    • A Selection of Current Job Openings


  • WEBINARS FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATORS
    • Maplesoft Webinar: Advanced Online Testing Solutions in a Freshman Engineering Computation Lab


  • COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS
    • Abstracts due Feb. 3 for Gulf-Southwest Conference in New Orleans
    • Zone I Conference at Bridgeport
    • Zone IV Conference in Long Beach


  • COMING ATTRACTIONS
    • A Look at What's on Tap in the February 2014 Edition of Prism


  • SOUND OFF
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I. Databytes



TOP SCHOOLS IN ENGINEERING DOCTORATES

The graph below shows an increase in doctorate engineering degrees awarded from 2004 to 2012. Doctorate degrees awarded increased by 34.18% since 2004. Over the next several years, these degrees are projected to continue to increase. We take a further look into where these doctorate degrees are being awarded. The table below the graph shows the top 25 schools with total doctorate engineering degrees awarded between the years 2004 - 2012.

 


 



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II. Congressional Hotline

STEM EDUCATION NEEDS GOVERNMENT HELP, HOUSE PANEL TOLD

A recent House STEM education hearing was billed as a showcase of private-sector engagement, but witnesses offered ways the government could help financially. Inventor Dean Kamen urged enactment of legislation that directs H-1B visa fees to enable under-served inner-city and rural schools to participate in his FIRST Robotics competitions. He said FIRST, with 3,500 corporate sponsors, reaches many suburban schools where money and engineering mentors are available, but faces a roadblock in poor communities because of "the lack of funds to pay teachers stipends to participate in after-school STEM programs." Rose-Hulman's vice president for academic affairs, Phil Cornwell, a mechanical and aerospace engineer, said the feds could: "offer incentives for companies to provide meaningful internships early in students' education, that is, after the first and second year . . . (and) differentiate student loan rates based on schools' graduation rates and on student major." Kemi Jona, who directs Northwestern's Office of STEM Education Partnerships, would like programs such as hers to get a share of NSF research grant money to help principal investigators fulfill the "greater impacts" criterion. Jona said "university scientists and engineers are experts in their disciplines, not education, program design and delivery." His proposal would result in high quality "greater impacts" projects and better accountability, he said.

 

Richard Templeton, CEO of Texas Instruments, Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and National Academy of Engineering President Charles Vest spoke as one before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

U.S. LAGGING IN COMMERCIAL DRONE BOOM, DUKE PROF TELLS SENATE

Missy Cummings, who directs the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke's Institute for Brain Sciences, told the a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing Jan. 15 that it is "unlikely that the FAA will meet its charge to open our national airspace to drones by 2015" and that "the United States is lagging, not leading, the commercial drone boom. "She said that well before Amazon made their recent announcement for drone package delivery, companies in Australia and China beat them to it."Safety, she said, "is greatly improving."Cummings testified at a hearing entitled "The Future of Unmanned Aviation in the U.S. Economy: Safety and Privacy Considerations."

 

THE CONGRESSIONAL ROLL CALL IS A RICH LIST

Government Executive and the Center for Responsive Politics reports that, for the first time, a little more than half the members of Congress had a net worth of at least $1 million in 2012. The median in the House was $896,000; in the Senate, $2.7 million.



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III. THE K-12 REPORT

Virginia Democrat Mark Warner

A NEW TYPE OF STEM SCHOOL SET TO OPEN IN ILLINOIS

A trailblazing science and technology school that will educate both elementary and middle-school students is on schedule to open this August in Aurora, Ill., a Chicago suburb, according to the Chicago Tribune. The John C. Denham STEM Partnership school is a project involving four schools districts and Aurora University, a private, liberal arts college. The school will be based on the college campus. Some 200 third- through eighth-graders, selected from all four districts, will attend the $12 million school, which will emphasize a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum. The STEM school's genesis began in 2007 when the private Denham Fund suggested the creation of a novel school that would help boost the science and tech skills of students. The school is also designed to provide teachers with enhanced professional development training, the paper says, and eventually those teachers will take that experience back to their home districts. The school's partners also include area and national tech firms, corporate foundations and the Argonne and Fermilab national laboratories. If its STEM curriculum and partnership approach works, supporters hope it will serve as a model school that other regions around the country can adopt.

Virginia Democrat Mark Warner

SAN FRANCISCO'S OM-APPROACH TO FIXING BROKEN SCHOOLS

The Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco is one tough place. It's located in a neighborhood where murders and gunfire are a daily part of life, and historically, it was a school where students were largely out of control and academic achievements were rare. But, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, in 2007 the school became the country's first test bed for something called Quiet Time, which essentially is meditation by another name. Twice a day students take a meditation break, which is announced in classrooms by the bang of gong. The change in the school is beyond amazing: its suspension rate dropped to the lowest in the city, and grade point averages soared. Now 20 percent of its graduate qualify for the city's elite Lowell High School. Quiet Time has since been adopted by three other schools, the newspaper reports, and they've produced similar results. More than twice as many students in Quiet Time schools have become proficient in math and English compared to their peers in similar schools that don't use the program. Now school officials want to expand the program to schools citywide.



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IV. JEE SELECTS

Virtues of Virtual Labs

Virginia Democrat Mark Warner

Inquiry using simulations helped vocational students grasp concepts and solve complex problems

By Bas Kollöffel and Ton de Jong

Traditionally, engineering curricula use textbook instruction and hands-on lessons, which are often effective approaches for teaching terms and definitions and the procedural use of formulas. As noted by teachers and as found in several studies, however, students often fail to develop conceptual understanding. Inquiry learning is regarded as an instructional approach that stimulates students to acquire conceptual insights by having them conduct real investigations.

Performing adequate inquiry in physical laboratories is a challenging task for students, however. Virtual laboratories, based on simulations, offer an alternative that allows students to easily set up and carry out experiments with associated support for the inquiry process.

In this study, we examined students' acquisition of conceptual understanding about electrical circuits. The students were enrolled in an engineering track at the secondary vocational education level. We hypothesized that adding inquiry learning in a virtual lab would be more effective than relying on traditional instruction alone.

Students were randomly assigned to one of two conditions in a quasi-experimental study. Students in both conditions followed the full, regular electricity curriculum. This curriculum included topics such as circuits, resistance, Ohm's law, and Kirchhoff's laws. In the traditional condition, the curriculum was supplemented with computer-based practice that offered students traditional exercises for each chapter of their textbook. In the virtual lab condition, the standard curriculum was supplemented with inquiry learning in a virtual lab. In the virtual lab environment, students were presented with electrical circuits. They could add or remove electrical components (e.g., light bulbs, resistors), adjust the voltage, and perform measurements using virtual equipment to measure voltage across components and the strength of the current flowing through different parts of the circuit. The images of real equipment made the virtual lab highly realistic. Students were supported in their inquiry processes by a series of assignments that were integrated within the virtual lab environment and designed to structure their experimentation processes.

Results from 43 students were included in the analysis and showed that students in the virtual lab condition scored significantly higher on conceptual understanding and on procedural skills. In particular, students in this condition scored higher on solving complex problems; on simple problems no differences between conditions were found. Our findings are in line with a growing body of evidence on the effectiveness of virtual laboratories and corroborate the idea that active investigation and experimentation are successful ways to foster the acquisition of conceptual understanding.

That students also developed better procedural skills than students in the traditional condition was a bit unexpected but supports the idea that conceptual understanding and procedural skills develop in an iterative fashion. This effect makes the potential virtue of inquiry learning in virtual labs even more attractive. Our effects were obtained with a group of vocational education students who are often qualified as being more "doers"than "learners"and who are usually considered less prepared for the more scientific approach that is required by inquiry learning.

On the basis of the current study, we recommend that teachers in vocational education who want to stimulate conceptual understanding supplement or perhaps interweave their traditional approach with inquiry learning within a virtual lab. It is often assumed that inquiry learning is too demanding for students at this level, but our study shows that if the inquiry component is well supported, it will also work in vocational education settings.

Bas Kollöffel was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Twente, the Netherlands, Department of Instructional Technology. Ton de Jong is a professor of educational psychology and chairs the department. This is an excerpt from "Conceptual Understanding of Electrical Circuits in Secondary Vocational Engineering Education: Combining Traditional Instruction with Inquiry Learning in a Virtual Lab,"in the July 2013 Journal of Engineering Education. The work was supported by Kennisnet, a Dutch public educational organization.

 

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VI. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS

Job–hunting? Here are a few current openings:

1. Dean –– 2 opportunities

2. Engineering Education –– 3 opportunities

3. Mechanical Engineering –– 7 opportunities

Visit here for details:

http://www.asee.org/sales-and-marketing/advertising/classified-advertising/job-postings

 

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VII. Webinars for Engineering Educators

Maplesoft Webinar: Advanced Online Testing Solutions in a Freshman Engineering Computation Lab

This webinar presents a detailed case study of how Dr. Bruce Char and his colleagues at Drexel University overcame the challenge of effectively testing and assessing ~900 students/year using advanced technology solutions in a freshman engineering computation lab.


To view the recording, go to www.maplesoft.com/asee


 


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VII. COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS

Applications now being accepted for "Mapping the Field of Engineering Education Research Conference"

GULF-SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE ABSTRACTS DUE

Engineering educators, industry professionals, K-12 teachers, and college students are invited to attend the 2014 ASEE Gulf-Southwest Conference on "Interactive Learning in Engineering Education"( http://asee-gsw.tulane.edu/home/ ) at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter on April 2-4. Abstracts for conference papers and posters are due February 3. See instructions. Click here to register.





Applications now being accepted for "Mapping the Field of Engineering Education Research Conference"

ZONE 1 CONFERENCE AT BRIDGEPORT

The 2014 ASEE Zone 1 conference will be held at the University of Bridgeport on April 3-5. Held once every 5-6 years, the conference is expected to attract more than 1000 faculty, students and experts from academia and industry who are interested in engineering education, STEM Education, Research and Development in Engineering and Engineering Technology. This year's theme is: "Engineering Education: Industry Involvement and Interdisciplinary Trends." Professional Papers, Student Papers and Student Posters are being accepted. Visit the conference website.



Applications now being accepted for "Mapping the Field of Engineering Education Research Conference"

ZONE IV CONFERENCE

The 2014 ASEE Zone IV conference will be hosted by the College of Engineering, California State University, Long Beach on April 24-26, 2014 in Long Beach, CA. The conference theme this year is "Student Success Is Our Success: Developing diverse engineers for a changing world through engineering pedagogy & practice." Any questions regarding the conference can be directed to the host conference co-chairs Lily Gossage or Nim Marayong at asee@csulb.edu.

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VIII. COMING ATTRACTIONS

A QUICK PEEK AT WHAT'S IN THE FEBRUARY 2014 PRISM

COVER: AFGHANISTAN -- Two Afghan engineering schools strive to move past a generation of warfare – with help from educators in the United States and Japan.


FEATURE: CREATIVITY – Yes, Virginia, it can be taught – or so a variety of imaginative engineering educators are out to demonstrate.

Read the current issue of Prism magazine

 

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IX. SOUND OFF

Do you have a comment or suggestion for Connections?

Please let us know. Email us at: connections@asee.org. Thanks.

 

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