Back in March 2019, I received an email out of the blue regarding a researcher in the Canary Islands, Dr. Carlos Efrén Mora, looking to recruit a mentor.
Specifically, Carlos wanted help writing a fellowship proposal to conduct Engineering Education Research on social responsibility, and he had contacted a Special Interest Group I work with as a member of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI). This particular group studies Educational Research Methods and I’d mentioned at a meeting in 2018 that I was looking to help/host prospective fellows in Engineering Education Research.
Because Carlos was proposing a topic I have been studying for Engineers without Borders UK, I jumped at the chance to help. I emailed him right away and we set to work.
Carlos emailed me a copy of a proposal he’d previously submitted, and as I’ve successfully secured the funding under this scheme twice before, I reverted with more feedback and strategic advice.
Carlos and I worked tirelessly from March until the deadline for our target program in mid-September.
It was a grueling process, but Carlos is extremely hard-working. I must say that Carlos enthusiastically accepted every ounce of critique that I and my colleagues doled out, and he used it to improve his plans and ideas. The ability to welcome criticism is rare but so very important. It’s one of the most important skills I learned in architecture school! Carlos has it, too!
To make sure Carlos had the best chance to win funding, I assembled a team of superstar researchers and advisors. Their job: to poke holes in all his arguments and make sure the content was in the right places (ie, the places the evaluators will expect to find them while they are scoring his work).
I was elated with the results. In all, I believe we have an excellent chance of receiving funding to conduct research together–I as his mentor/supervisor/PI and he as a full-time research fellow working aside me at TU Dublin, hopefully starting in August 2020.
The text of the proposal is exceptional. The scientific merit is clear, the work plan is strong, the planned secondment is second to none, and the early-stage researcher has shown outstanding promise. He has a dedicated mentor by his side–one who is working hard to build her own research record and raise the visibility and credibility of EER globally.
Since we submitted in mid-September, Carlos has already secured some financial support from his own university to start some of the work.
Though al that is exciting, we are currently in the no-mans-land called the grant evaluation period. Researchers work for months on end to craft a research proposal. They send it off with the greatest of hope in their hearts. And then they wait and wait, and wait–often at least half a year–to hear back.
Typical success rates for the program we’ve requested run 9-14%.
What to do while waiting? Celebrate!
After we got the proposal submitted, Carlos brought his family up to London from the Canaries to meet me. Carlos and I held a work meeting on the first day of their stay.
This was the first trip off their Islands for the Mora kids, and I was delighted to be part of their big adventure. (The whole family has been getting excited about the possibility of spending a couple years in Dublin! They came to London this time since it’s where I am currently working.)
I planned one of the four days of their visit, and, as usual, I packed too much in. We all did new things–I’d never eaten Ramen before but Celia said it would be “a dream come true” so we all agreed!
Our lively chatter silenced when the food arrived for dinner.
We soon unanimously agreed again: we will be eating Ramen together again in Dublin ASAP. It was delicious!
The photo album below starts with a photo from the Canaries and another taken at the airport–Carlos sends me family updates regularly and it’s fun seeing the kids grow!