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Learning to train new and upcoming researchers, I recently welcomed an intern from the States. Allison “Allie” Wagner has been here at DIT since the start of January, as part of the Masters in Higher Education Administration she is completing at the Central Michigan University. She is working with me for a total of two months.

In her time here, Allie is learning about how we manage programs at DIT and what it is like for students to live and study here. She is also doing a research project with me. We have conducted phenomenological interviews with five female students from the Middle East, and we hope to interview 2-3 more. This adds a “longitudinal” component to my prior research, since I interviewed all five of these women two years ago. Allie and I are following up to see what new expediences these women have had and how things have changed for them.

Overall, we want to produce a journal article with findings to help teachers do a better job in supporting international students — and particularly Muslim women studying engineering in Western contexts.

 


 

 

img_5541Brussels is a buzz with the look and feel of Christmas, and the festive smell of spiced wine, waffles, and even Raclette sandwiches. Since I’m here for the week to evaluate grant proposals for the European Commission, all hours of the day have been quite full. Fortunately, though, the schedule provided several evenings to wander the streets at will and soak in the holiday cheer.

The set of photos I’ve attached all came from a two-hour journey though the city center, which is lovely and bright and cheery. This week, it teems with the best life has to offer, but other elements lie below the surface. Quietly keeping us safe though it all, almost unnoticed, are hundreds of uniformed men cradling rifles. A solemn reminder of troubles festering in this world around us. My sincere thanks go out to the officers keeping this plaza and the surrounding pedestrian shopping streets open for the public to enjoy.

Tonight, my last in this lively city for the year, I caught the Christmas light show in the Grand Plaza (the square with the highly ornate Baroque buildings and steeple). As if it weren’t festive enough with the classical lights shown below, the Plaza pulsed with contemporary music and a festive, choreographed wash of lights dancing from building to building. The lights in this plaza I’ll not ever forget; I’ll look to return in future years.

Yes, the best of times these are. Yet, I fear, the worst of days are soon to come. US politics and world news lay heavy in my heart. I keep my chin up and aim to do my own part in the world as best I can.

I’ve been in Brussels this week, evaluating grant proposals for the European Commission’s Research Executive Agency (REA). It’s the second time I’ve worked for the EU in this capacity–the first was during last fall’s lockdown in Brussels. This year’s event was much more pleasant, and we got to make our deliberations face-to-face, rather than using the Internet.

In my book, it’s important work. We’re determining which proposals will be funded and which research projects will proceed. Specifically, this week, we’re considering which PhD programs the EU will be co-financing. For successful applicants, the EU will pay a significant portion of the costs to hire early stage researchers to travel to another country in the EU to do their doctoral studies.

An intriguing aspect of the week has been being called “expert” everywhere I turn as I arrive at work in Covent Gardens every morning. I’m enjoying the novelty, although the sights have been the same day after day. The rooms in Covent Garden are very comfortable, in any case, and the other experts on the panel are friendly, knowledgeable, and polite. It’s been a great experience and I’ve gotten to learn a lot.

 

 

 

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After the lecture at KTH, with two librarians and two architecture profs, including my former classmate from Virginia Tech, Eric Stenberg.

Professor Jonte Burnhard invited me to KTH in Stockholm to deliver a guest lecture on what we–as education specialists, architecture educators, and researchers of engineering education–can learn from each other and from the pedagogical models used to teach architecture. Jonte had read a recent article, “Using Architecture Design Studio Pedagogies to Enhance Engineering Education,” that I’d published along with John Marshall and Gavin Duffy in IJEE. You can access the article at: http://arrow.dit.ie/engscheleart2/102)

The learning and teaching center at KTH hosts this type of lecture/workshop every couple weeks, to get the institution’s staff thinking about and discussing good ways to teach. In addition to classroom educators, quite a few of KTH’s librarians also attended the event, as well.

While at KTH, I enjoyed a dozen small-group discussions on pedagogical topics, toured the brand new architecture building, and caught up with a former classmate, Eric Stenberg,  from Virginia Tech’s architecture program. I’m hoping to visit KTH again soon, since we have so many overlapping interests.

I stayed though the weekend, before heading to Brussels on Sunday evening, and I’ve attached photos of the Christmas sights.

The chaplaincy of Dublin Institute of Technology, Fr. Alan Hilliard, Susie Keegan, and Suzanne Greene the administrative assistant, assist DIT’s visiting students, who come from all around the world. The chaplains organize trips and events in addition to providing helpful advice and pastoral assistance. 

So far this year, I’ve helped out with two events they organised–a trad music event at the back room of the Cobblestone pub, and a day trip to Glendalough national park and ancient monastic city.

As a young researcher, Don McClure lived in my Dublin flat while he was collecting data for his PhD. Now that he’s finished his project, and earned his doctoral degree, he’s working as an Assistant Professor at St. John’s University in New York.

Recently, Dr. McClure was selected to present his findings at a conference held at the School of Education at Maynooth University.   Today was the big day, so Aongus and I headed out to the institution bright and early to hear Don speak.

Both presentations in his session were superb, and afterward we had a chance to chat with Don over coffee.

As Don headed back to his sessions, Aongus and I went out into the day, to explore the campus.

Turns out, it was graduation day and the chapel was open to the public. What an amazing site!

I realized immediately that this was a significant design. Turns out, indeed one of a kind. The University’s website states:

Built between 1875 and 1891, this Chapel has 454 carved stalls, making it the largest of its kind in the world. 

The place reminded me of the wooden theater in Parma, with a Hogwarts sort of mystique. What a treasure!

The webpage is well worth a read.

More Weekend Fun

In addition to the St. Anne’s ParkRun and tour of the Botanical Garden and Cemetary in Glasnevin, we also explored Dublin city over the weekend and had a fun dinner party at my place, hosted by my flat mate, Maurizio.

I’ve attached some highlights, from various adventures in town, but Mau’s lasagna stole the show!

 

 

img_5149-1The Dublin sun shone again today, making the Botanical Garden ideal to visit. The Victorian-age green houses, sprawling green lawns, and falling leaves drew crowds of enthusiastic park-goers. We strolled the paths, viewed plants from around the world (including many sorts of Venus fly-trap), enjoyed the sensations and colors,  and played in mountains of leaves.

img_5164Then, Aongus and I took a break in the Garden cafe for lunch, and wrapped up our trip to this part of town with a jaunt into the adjacent Glasnevin Cemetary for a stroll, a history lesson, and coffee (with his beloved “coffee slice”). By sunset, when we left the Cemetary, the gate back into the Garden was locked, so we took the side exit out, beside The Gravediggers pub and stopped in for a pint and a half of Guinness.

I’m the half pint!

ParkRun for Some Sun

Shannon Chance, Ted Burke, Dave Doorn, and Aongus Coughlan after the St. Anne’s ParkRun

St. Anne’s Saturday morning Park Run in the crisp autumn air–what a treat!  I can’t say I actually ran, though. It was more of a jog! But I didn’t stop to walk even once and, for a 5k, I’ll consider that a success.

My DIT colleague Dave Doorn came in 4th in the field of 303, with a time of 18 minutes, 2 seconds. Ted Burke was 10th, today which is amazing considering last week he ran the Dublin Marathon (in just 3 hours and 12 minutes!). I also saw my colleague and office mate, Kevin Furlong, along the way. As he passed me!

I’ll not post my ranking today, but will celebrate finishing with a smile! It was my second 5k, ever. The previous one was at the Malehide ParkRun, which is also a beautiful site.

Thanks to Aongus for the inspiration to run and sticking by my side for the inaugural run. I just may get the hang of this yet!

 

Ireland’s a lovely place to visit, and Dublin is chock full of interesting sites to see. My favorites in the city center include: Marsh’s Library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, one of the brewery or distillery tours (I’ve not yet been to Teelings Distillery, but it’s near Marsh’s and St. Patrick’s), Grafton Street, Trinity College walking tour with the Book of Kells, the Little Museum of Dublin, the Archeology Museum with the bog men, and the theaters (Gaiety, Abbey, Gate, and Olympia). I highly recommend a visit to the Queen of Tarts (on Lord Edward Street or it’s sister site on Cow’s Lane).

A bit out of the city center but still in Dublin are some of my very favorite sites: the Kilmainham Gaol (historic jail) and the Glasnevin Cemetary which has excellent tours plus a genealogy museum—it’s located adjacent to the Botanical Garden and the Gravedigger’s Pub.

The best place for traditional Irish music in Dublin is in north of the River Liffey  (Cobblestone Pub, run by a history buff and frequented by them as well), but O’Donoghue’s is also good for trad music and is in the center of town.

Good day trips from Dublin include Glendalough (monastic town with two scenic lakes) and Newgrange (a megalithic passage tomb, and World Heritage Site). In the same general area as Newgrange, Trim Castle warrants a visit. To the southwest of Dublin, I also enjoy visiting Kilkenny (I still need to visit the Smithwich’s brewery there) and the Rock of Cashel.

Closer in, there are lovely little costal villages around Dublin, including Dún Laoghaire (where you can walk the piers or visit the Sunday market in the People’s Park), Blackrock, and Dalkey. All three of these costal towns are to the south of Dublin and can be reached by train or bus. Howth is another nice costal village; it’s to the north of Dublin, and also accessible by train or bus. If you’re out near Howth with a car, the Casino Marino is fun to visit.

If you’re on a visit to Dublin and have enough time to go farther afield by car,  you should travel out overnight to one of some of the major sites in the west of Ireland, such as the Ring of Kerry, or Dingle, or Claire, or East Cork (with stops in Cork, Kinsale, and/or Cobh).

I really enjoy county Donegal but I’d say that you’d need two nights minimum to make that trip. Next time I go up to Donegal, I’ll visit the spa at Shandon, which looked amazing but was booked solid for the holiday weekend when we visited. The Glenveagh National Park and Castle were quite enjoyable. I’ve included a few pictures of Glenveagh on this blog post–taken late in the day on Halloween.

By the way, most tour guides here in Ireland are required to study and pass rigorous tests, so they really do know their stuff!

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