Welcome news

I met my PhD supervisee, Sandra, online just as the sun was coming up this morning. Thankful that she’s well on track, I got down to work, whipped up a conference abstract and got it submitted for tonight’s deadline.

Then I settled in for an intense day of paper editing. I was finalizing my team’s major revisions — our big December 18 deadline will be here far too soon. And with other deadlines looming large overhead, I took the long open stretch on my schedule today to make substantial progress.

I forgot my gym class. I forgot to eat lunch.

But while my head was under the sand, two very welcome emails landed in my box. The first I’ve been awaiting since last spring, but our university processes are slow. I’ve been assigned to teach in the school where my passion lies (still at TU Dublin, just in a different school as mine was dismantled).

I’ll now be teaching in the School of Architecture, Building and Environment which is great because I really love teaching students architecture. I’ll still teach BIM topics, too, of course.

The second incoming message was a bit of thanks from a researcher who used the advice on my blog and won herself an MSCA Marie Curie fellowship this year! I couldn’t be prouder than to help make this type of difference in someone’s life.

So, goals big and small came to fruition today. These emails reported life-changing news for me and for Diana.

With no time to rest on my laurels, I had to wrap up my replies fast, and run out to buy groceries for dinner. We’re having a younger friend over to discuss financial planning, a new hobby of mine.

Life is busy, but full of interesting new challenges. Lots to fill you in on over the coming weeks!

Giving Thanks from Dublin

Thanksgiving here in Ireland is usually just another ordinary Thursday. But this year I made a point to celebrate. I registered for a conference held at the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street, so I could learn about “Next Generation Construction in Ireland” while soaking in old-school Irish ambiance, and I bought tickets for an American Thanksgiving feast.

I love visiting the stately old RIA building, with its floors of well worn books. There was an interesting exhibition on display, and lovely architectural details to treat the eyes and soothe the soul.

Despite heavy rain falling before my cycle over, I was inspired to wear my favorite Irish sweater and the “BIM Hero” lapel pin I received earlier in the year. (I am hoping the pin will provide the good karma I need to get my current manuscript on the Hero’s Journey polished up to final form to submit this coming week!)

Delighted to have been named a “BIM Hero” at the BIM Coordinators Summit.

During this one-day conference, I learned more than a few new things about Modern Methods of Construction, Irish strategies and policies, and education programs and plans to up-skill the Irish workforce.

Dr. Tara Brooks from Queens University in Belfast presented fascinating research and I’ve included images since I really enjoyed the graphic devices she used to situate her contributions to the body of knowledge in BIM and digital construction.

My own university, TU Dublin, was very well represented among attendees, presenters, panelists, organizers, and session chairs. I’ve pictured Joseph Mady, a part time lecturer who delivered an interesting talk.

Our conference ended promptly at 5, as Ireland’s Prime Minister was scheduled to speak in the same room at 7, and there was setting up to do.

With the conference concluded, I headed across Dawson Street to Cafe en Seine for a cocktail with Aongus.

Then we cycled together over to the Hilton near Lock C6 on the south side canal. We met up with a merry group of Americans (most with Irish in tow) to share a feast of turkey will most all the trimmings.

It was Aongus’ first sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and he’s still raving about his new find. It’s fun to see the delight he takes in root veg… he also loved the glazed carrots. Such a healthy boy! My favorite were the green beans sautéed with bacon.

We made some new friends and had a ball sharing stories in a familiar twang. Until next year:

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Americans make fast friends!

Deputy at work: Strategizing editorials and scanning publication rankings

It’s a very strange and dreary day here in Dublin. We almost never get thunder and lightning, and that novel occurrence is providing the main bit of excitement for the day. (The thunderclaps are rolling longer than I’ve heard in my life — more like a standing ovation than mere claps.) Suffering from lack of focus, I have picked items from the non-urgent portion of my extensive “To Do” list, which will mean the urgent ones get more urgent. At least when I procrastinate, I’m still actually working!?

So this morning, in addition to meeting online with my PhD student, I spent some time studying the composition of the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Engineering Education (EJEE) and creating a spreadsheet to help me understand our peer reviewers’ expertise better, as I’ve recently become Deputy Editor of this journal.

EJEE’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Kristina Edström, recently published an editorial welcoming me aboard. She kindly listed three publications I have in EJEE:

References

That top one, “Opportunities and barriers faced by early-career civil engineers enacting global responsibility” is the most downloaded EJEE article of the past 12 months, with 2211 views since it was published last November.

The second one has a title that tends to scare people!

That scary name and the fact that it’s been behind a paywall on the publisher’s website mean that the tally of downloads isn’t as high, but you can find it free (as the embargo period passed) using this link from the TU Dublin ARROW repository, where it has had 870 downloads to complement the 1458 views at the publisher’s site. I really hope people will find and use this paper on “Comparing grounded theory and phenomenology,” especially if they are uncertain about which methodology to use for their research. Grounded theory and phenomenology have some similar characteristics, but the results we report in this paper illustrate that you can use them to find different things. Grounded theory is helpful when studying organizational and policy issues, as the article shows. Phenomenology looks deeply at the core essence of the experience. Using the two different methods in parallel analyses, we were able to learn about teachers’ (phenomenological) experience implementing Problem-Based Leaning, and also the (grounded theory) way they organized themselves to achieve results.

Meanwhile, the third on the list, “The study of grit in engineering education research: a systematic literature review” is EJEE’s fourteenth all-time most downloaded. This paper offers really important advice for anyone wanting to use Angela Duckworth’s theory of “grit” (passion and perseverance) to study student development. We found many researchers to be leaving out crucial information when reporting their “grit” results, and we provide advice on how to report findings in a reliable way.

As you can see in the screenshots above, I also authored the all-time most-downloaded article of the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, “Above and beyond: ethics and responsibility in civil engineering” with 4,838 views as of today. I put my whole heart and soul into this paper and I am overjoyed to see it succeed. I hope readers will find the content useful.

Anyway, these discoveries prompted me to check my Google Scholar profile with happy results — I have climbed to h-index 10, which means ten of my articles have been cited at least ten times. The next milestone is h-index 11, which requires 11 articles to each have 11 or more citations. Those take a long time to accrue, but hopefully, people who download the articles will cite them in their own upcoming publications.

Now, for a little 2:26 PM lunch and a deep dive into some curriculum design for the afternoon! Thanks for stopping to read this. I truly appreciate your support.

The Assessment of Ethics

This week, I’m attending a virtual conference of the International Society for Educational Planning (ISEP). My colleague, Diana Adela Martin, is speaking later today. She’s presenting her PhD thesis, since she’s being awarded the 2022 ISEP Outstanding Dissertation Award. (Someone I know nominated her, wink, wink!)

ISEP publishes Educational Planning and its most recent issue features an article by Diana and me, along with our TU Dublin colleague Catherine Deegan. You can download the current issue at this link and find our article starting on page 23. Here’s the APA citation:

Chance, S. Martin, D. A., & Deegan, C. (2022). The assessment of ethics: Lessons for planners from engineering education’s global strategy. Educational Planning, 29(3). 23-40.

Hot off the press, copies for my co-authors and me.

Yesterday, I cycled to the post office to pick up a package containing print copies of the journal. ISEP moves fast! The issue was published at the end of last week, and the print copies arrived (all the way from Blacksburg, Virginia) just days later.

Diana and I will be presenting aspects of the published work at the ISEP conference on Friday, and my PhD student, Sandra Cruz-Moreno will be presenting aspects of her doctoral research in the in the same session.

In other good news, classes this semester are rolling along smoothly, and University College London recently extended my term as Visiting Professor for an additional five years.

A photo from our first day of Tech Graphics — Hand Drawing class for autumn semester 2022.

Virtually back in-person at TU Dublin

I’m finally coming out of laptop-induced hibernation. I’m ready to move between in-person and online realms, and hoping this will ensue rather seamlessly. It’s been hard to muster enthusiasm for blogging after working behind the laptop all day, every day. Maybe spending time outside will provide inspiration to blog, as it has today.

This morning, I delivered a seminar (7-8 AM) to the Center for Research on Engineering Education (CREE) at the University of Cape Town. The topic was writing research proposals for publication and securing grants and fellowships. I delivered a similar session earlier in the year as part of a workshop series conducted by the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN), and CREE asked me to bring it to their group.

A really enthusiastic group attended and I received several follow-up emails. I really appreciate hearing what attendees valued and how we might connect more in the future. I met most of these folks in delivering Master Classes in South Africa when I was working at UCL, and also when attending the Research in Engineering Education Symposium in Cape Town in 2019. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know them better through regular meetings, online during Covid. I’m currently developing a special focus journal issue with one of them, Anita Campbell. We had a meeting about that project yesterday that was so exciting I had trouble sleeping last night!?

Cover slide for the talk I gave today, virtually in Cape Town.

Logging off the Cape Town session, I headed over to Bolton Street TU Dublin to help lead a field trip for Transition Year (high school) students to visit sites in Dublin.

One-half of the students toured the “waste to energy” facility in Dublin (which they don’t call an incinerator, as that word seems politically incorrect here but is easy-to-envision thanks to Toy Story). The other half of the students came with Kevin Gaughan and me to see a construction site downtown. I included two photos of our site visit below, but you can see more about the visit, including a full gallery of images, at https://roboslam.wordpress.com/2022/05/12/engineering-your-future-at-tu-dublin-2022/.

While I was busy on the tour, some of my colleagues were preparing for tomorrow’s activity for the same students, a BioSlam. You can view the instructions for making little blood flow monitors on our RoboSlam site, at https://roboslam.wordpress.com/bioslam-ppg/.

A photo of the project for tomorrow. See https://roboslam.wordpress.com/bioslam-ppg/ for more.

I’ll have to step out of the BioSlam for a while to attend an online Meeting on engineering ethics — I hope earbuds do the job and I can attend from the corridor outside the electronics lab.

At the moment, I am taking a breather, listening to an online talk by a leading expert in the history of Grangegorman. The speaker, Brian Donnely, Senior Archivist in the National Archives, is currently talking about Richmond Surgical Hospital (a block from my flat) and as well as TU Dublin’s campus site at Grangegorman, which was used as an “insane asylum” with a prison placed between the two in the past.

And, I’m multi-tasking (a rarity for me) and posting a blog (also very rare these days).

Online lecture by Brian Donnely, Senior Archivist in the National Archives.

In just over two hours, I’ll be teaching an online evening class on Research Methods for my BSc students in BIM/Digital Construction. Before then, I’ll read the peer reviews I’ve just received for the European Journal for Engineering Education, so that I can recommend tomorrow to the Editor in Cheif how to move forward toward publication of the manuscript.

A slide for tonight’s Research Methods class.

Global leadership with REEN

Reflecting professionally on my past four years, REEN is a definite bright spot.

I’m delighted with what we have accomplished since 2018 when I joined the Governing Body of the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN), and since I took on the role of Chair for 2020 and 2021. I got to put many of the theories to work that I learned in my PhD in Higher Education Administration (Policy, Planning and Leadership).

During my term as REEN Chair, my team and I have met our existing goals of organizing a bi-annual Symposium (REES, or Research in Engineering Education Symposium), publishing a special focus journal issue from each REES, and hosting an informational website. We seek to build momentum and capacity to generate new knowledge, publish quality research, and implement research-informed teaching approaches in regions all around the globe.

We aim to host REES in geographically diverse regions, and we see this Symposium as a way of introducing new areas and communities to EER. I helped recruit and select the hosts and locations for REES 2021 in Perth Australia, and REES 2023 in Hubli, India. REES has been/will be held in:

  • 2007 – Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
  • 2008 – Davos, Switzerland
  • 2009 – Palm Cove, Queensland, Australia
  • 2011 – Madrid, Spain
  • 2013 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • 2015 – Dublin, Ireland
  • 2017 – Bogotá, Colombia
  • 2019 – Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2021 – Perth, Australia
  • 2023 – Hubli, India

I’m delighted to notice that REES has now been held on every (inhabited) continent!

We recognize that attending REES in person involves global travel and is thus prohibitively expensive for many — as well as taxing on the environment — and we seek to make it more accessible, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable. So, the organizing team has developed multiple avenues for online participation.

We started innovating this way at the outset of the pandemic, when we organized with UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education a full-day online Engineering Education Meet Up. We co-organized a second one on International Women’s Day 2020.  People attended these online events from all over the globe and we facilitated all time zones in the first event.

We built on this success with virtual events in the design of the upcoming REES in Perth, which has a global “relay” type structure. Events will happen face-to-face in Perth but will include paper presentations in a hybrid format (with face to face + online participation). Each research paper will be discussed three times:

  • first in the afternoon in Perth (hybrid)
  • second online at a time comfortable for the Middle East westward across Europe and Africa and across the Americas, and
  • third at a report back to the Perth group the next morning.

We have a host of facilitators enlisted to carry the dialogue across the time zones during REES 2021, to support continuity. We will use collaborative tools (e.g., Padlet, Miro, Jamboards, or similar) to record and add ideas at each stage of the global relay. I’ll be facilitating two of these relay sessions, scheduling and helping the facilitation leaders prepare, and moderating the online keynote sessions. Our keynote speakers have agreed to deliver their talks twice: once to people in time zones near Perth (hybrid format), and again to the other side of the world (online only).

REEN will provide awards for the REES Best Paper and best student paper (the Duncan Frazier Award), and a sub-committee of REEN Board members is now in the process of selecting winners for 2021.

During my term as Chair, the REEN Board has developed a practice of building capacity among board members and empowering each other so that there is continuity in transition and handover over responsibilities among Board members.

In the past two years, we have expanded our Board to provide a better representation of non-Anglo regions; the prior naming and allocation of representatives previously privileged the USA and Australia, but it now provides two representatives per continent with some sub-divisions specified to ensure geographical diversity (here’s an example call for applicants). We’ll modify further soon, to make the Middle East and Russia two separate regions.

We have innovated and grown. In the past two years, we have developed many new policies and procedures (such as for recruiting candidates and conducting elections) and programs (e.g., virtual Meet Ups, hybrid conference formats, capacity-building groups, and a capacity-building workshop series that we’ll soon pilot test).

We established a new transition period, to bring the incoming Chair on board 6-12 months prior to taking the full role of Chair, and the outgoing Chair to transition out gradually over 6-12 months to provide advice and support to the incoming Chair.

We also established a new rotation cycle for elections that helps stabilize membership so that we have a consistent level of turnover each year. Our new practices for recruiting and selecting Board members provide a common and transparent approach across regions that will help REEN fill its needs for diverse skills, interests, and expereince. We developed a more balanced approach that allows seasoned and emerging researchers alike a chance to serve.

As we are a larger group, we have not had trouble recruiting people to take on new roles or expand our repertoire of offerings. These were problems encountered in the past, when sitting Chairs couldn’t find replacements, for example. In the past three years, we have had extensive competition for the Board positions we have advertised, typically with 6-10 people running for each open position.

To help ensure engagement among Board members and address a few cases of under-performance, I implemented an annual benchmarking activity wherein Board members submit a written reflection at the start of each year, summarizing what they contributed the prior year, and setting forth goals and aspirations they have for the coming year. This approach has been successful in helping build a sense of ownership and accountability. It helps us identify and build momentum around shared goals. Thankfully, it also gave individuals who were not contributing very much a chance to see that for themselves and modify their behaviour by either stepping up their efforts, better stating what they intended to contribute so they could deliver, or stepping down to allow others a chance to serve and lead.

As REEN itself does not have a bank account, we have successfully controlled costs. We moved our website to a less expensive/nearly free provider, and we upgraded the content. During my time on REEN, we have added a page on EER journals, and our team continues to cultivate and refine this list, trying to provide trustworthy and consistent information to authors to aid their selection of publication venues and help them avoid predatory publishers. We still have the annual cost of the website domain, and I’ll try to find a sponsor for that as I don’t like that obligation passing from Chair to Chair as we’ve been doing.

Over the past 24 months, we produced a special focus journal issue on ethics in engineering, published in hard copy in May 2021 via the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education. I was the Editor, supported by the Editor-in-Chief Sally Male, and Associate Editors from REEN Teresa Hattigh, Andrea Mazzurco, and Valquíria Villas-Boas.

A full list of past REEN publications is available on our website and this list is being expanded this very week to include updated content and a new page of domain-specific journals as well.

REEN also conveys news and communicates happenings via a new blog feature on our website, with a new email subscription list, in addition to a new Twitter handle, @BoardREEN and the LinkedIn Discussion Board that we have operated for years. I’ve been a major player in posting to social media, and hope to soon recruit someone to help with the job. Perhpas when we bring new Board members in, early in 2022.

The special focus issue of the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education (that I mentioned above) adds to the global body of literature on engineering ethics education. The introduction by the guest editor Shannon Chance presents the nine manuscripts and explains ties across them. Overall, the set covers ethical decision-making models and pedagogical techniques, philosophical aspects of ethics in engineering practice and education, ethics in accreditation, and the role of extra-curricular activities and gaming platforms in students’ ethical development. The set has been released digitally and will soon be published in hard copy as well. Many of the articles are open access, and a link to each is provided below.

In the special issue, authors Gwynne-Evans, Junaid and Chetty argue for a repositioning of ethics at the heart of engineering graduate attributes. Martin, Conlon and Bowe examine how “cases” (or detailed examples) are used in the teaching of engineering ethics; these authors argue for the development of immersive scenarios and active stakeholder engagement, as well for the development of local repositories and metrics of effectiveness. Stransky, Bodnar, Anastasio and Burkey explore the power of immersive environments that encourage authentic, high-level engagement by students. Sivaraman proposes a 4-tier rubric for evaluating engineering students’ ethical decision-making skills in the context of hypothetical scenarios. Lawlor offers a dissenting perspective to the teaching of engineering ethics through case studies and he recommends mirroring practices used in the education of philosophers—reading, lectures, discussion, and assessment—so that students are equipped to think critically about the profession. Hess, Miller, Higbee, Fore and Wallace explore empathy and ethical becoming, with the aim of helping Biomedical students recognize issues in practice environments. Frigo, Marthaler, Albers, Ott and Hillerbrand bring to the forefront the role of phronesis and virtues in engineering education. Advocating an authentic approach to teaching ethics, Polmear, Chau and Simmons highlight the role that informal, out-of-class, or extra-curricular activities play in the students’ ethical development. Finally, Chance, Lawlor, Direito and Mitchell assess the ramifications of traditional approaches to teaching ethics by asking civil engineers how they had learned about ethics and find that lessons of codes and professional practice were likely present in their engineering courses but completely unmemorable.

Frankly, I’m over the moon that this last article, “Above and beyond: ethics and responsibility in civil engineering“, by my own team, has already been downloaded from the publisher’s website 1371 times. It’s free to download, so please click this link to download the paper and learn what we discovered.

As REEN wants to help more regions build skills in EER and a sense of community working together, our Board members launched, in late 2019, a group we are now calling the “Engineering Education Research Network – Africa”. This group shares resources and ideas via WhatsApp and meet online to share similarly. Our Board has been working diligently to develop a series of workshops to introduce this community to EER and examples of how to do EER. We will run this workshop series in January-February 2022. I’ll meet with the group (online) later in November to launch that workshop initiative and encourage people to sign up.

Board members are hoping to extend these support activities into additional regions, eventually providing video recordings translated into local languages to help people learn EER. Our long-range plan for these EERN communities includes Latin America, the Middle East, and China.

In the role of Chair, I also developed a new logo with input from all Board members:

Our little Board is small but mighty. My wholehearted thanks go to the current Board members who made possible all the accomplishments I outlined above:

2021 (serving until the end of 2021)

  • Valquiria Villas-Boas (Central and South America)
  • Brent Jesiek (North America)
  • Shannon Chance (Europe)

2022

  • Teresa Hattingh (Africa)
  • Mahyuddin Arsat (Southeast Asia)
  • Sarah Dart (Australasia)

2023

  • Aida Guerra (Europe)
  • Cindy Finelli (North America)
  • Camilo Vieira (Central and South America)

2024

  • Jiabin (Emily) Zhu (China and Northeast Asia)
  • Xiangyun Du (Middle East and Russia)
  • Esther Matemba (Africa)

Special projects

  • Sally Male (REES 2021)
  • Mike Klassen (ad hoc)
  • John Mitchell (ad hoc)
  • Sohum Sohoni (REES 2023, Indian sub-continent)

Hot off the presses! Opportunities and barriers faced by early-career civil engineers enacting global responsibility

Taylor & Francis has just published my team’s newest article, “Opportunities and barriers faced by early-career civil engineers enacting global responsibility” in the European Journal of Engineering Education!

It’s Open Access, so you can download it for free at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03043797.2021.1990863

I collected interviews for this project with civil engineers recruited by Engineers Without Borders UK (EWB-UK). Dr Inês Direito helped with interviews and data analysis and Professor John Mitchell helped us with editing.

This is a sister article to one published in May 2021 via the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education that was titled “Above and beyond: ethics and responsibility in civil engineering“. That article has 1,354 downloads to date! It’s also Open Access, and free to read.

We hope you’ll find the various insights revealed about the ethics and experiences of early-career engineers interesting and informative.

Four-Year Flashback: Proudest Achievements

I haven’t been blogging much during the pandemic, as I spend far too many hours sitting in front of a computer monitor for things that must be done. Hours for hobbies like blogging just weren’t available – my eyes and thighs couldn’t take more. Moreover, since I posted advice and examples of Marie Curie final reports and applications there has been a deluge of visitors to those pages and posting more would cause those visitors confusion.

But, the traffic slowed down this year after the 2021 deadline for applications. You can see the cliff edge, where traffic dropped off, in the image to the left, below. These web materials were heavily visited in 2020 as well as 2021, as shown to the right, and I anticipate MSCA applicants will return for the 2022 application cycle.

In any case, I’m delighted with having over nine thousand visitors this year!

Most visitors came from my home (USA) and host (Ireland and the UK) countries, but I also reached people far away!

It’s time to update you! And, as I’m currently preparing to put my best foot forward in a local interview, it’s also a good time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished in the past four years:

  • Marie Curie Research Fellow and Visiting Professor at UCL
  • Programme Chair for the TU Dublin’s BSc (Honours) in BIM (Digital Construction)
  • Governing Body member and Chair of the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN)
  • Guest editor for three special focus journal issues
  • Journal Associate Editor, Editorial Board member, and mentor for new reviewers
  • Author of multiple publications, having collected data for additional new publications as well
  • International speaker and workshop coordinator
  • Licensed Architect with up to date CPD
  • Supervisor and mentor for emerging researchers, appointed Senior Fellow of the (UK) Higher Education Academy
  • Blogger sharing examples to build human capacity in research and research-informed teaching
  • Manager of a portfolio of funded projects

In this post, I’ll tell you a bit about the first two items. Hopefully, I can detail other items in subsequent posts — so examples are fresh in my mind come interview time!

After successfully completing a two-year Marie Cure individual fellowship at UCL, I returned to Dublin, but I have kept my networks and collaborative activities at UCL going strong. The fellowship opened so many new doors for me — it exposed a new world of opportunities. My host institution, a global powerhouse in research and in engineering education as well as architecture education, provided an ideal place to grow new knowledge and skills. The fellowship’s generous training/travel budget, plus the exciting assignments UCL sent me on (e.g., leading two Master Classes in South Africa), helped extend my network into many new regions. Even today, nearly two years after leaving the UCL campus, I work daily with my UCL colleagues. As Visiting Professor, I attend online lectures and research sessions, provide leadership on research and gender issues, and engage in collaborative projects. Today, UCL Consultants pays half my salary, straight to TU Dublin, to provide me time to develop curricular materials for a brand-new degree programme in Architectural Engineering. This curriculum development work has been challenging, but also incredibly interesting and rewarding.

Just a month after returning to Dublin and just a month before the pandemic came crashing in, I accepted the role of Programme Chair for TU Dublin’s BSc (Honours) in BIM (Digital Construction) and launched that programme. I had an amazing Dean, but the two layers of supervisors between the Dean and me (as Programme Chair) were vacant for over half a year and so I learned quite a range of new skills. As my new line manager pointed out to me yesterday, I left my own personal stamp on the programme as it developed. Thankfully, he described this as a positive! Developing the structure and content of the “Research Methods” and “Work-Based Learning” modules for this BSc has been particularly rewarding. The “Honours” part of the programme name indicates that the students must complete a research thesis to graduate, and we’ve done an impressive job guiding the students to topics where doing research will benefit them, their careers, and the organizations where they work. We graduated our first cohort and have a second nearing completion. The tough part of this role, for me, is keeping up with technologies and standards that evolve so fast.

In upcoming posts, I look forward to reflecting on REEN, journal, and mentoring work. But for now, I’d better get back to my “To Do” list!

An Editor’s Job is … sometimes a success!

I am very proud of a manuscript that was released digitally by Taylor and Francis publishers this week, authored by Dr. Mathana Amaris Fiona Sivaraman. I served as the Editor for this manuscript, as it is part of a set that will be published in hard copy in May in The Australasian Journal of Engineering Education (AJEE). The set comprises a special focus issue on ethics in engineering education and practice. It’s an output of the global Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN.co) that I Chair.

The title of Fiona’s paper is “A 4-tier rubric for evaluating engineering students’ ethical decision-making (EDM) skills: EDM model as a tool for analysing and assessing ethical reasoning” and it can be donwloaded from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/22054952.2021.1909811. (If you need access and your library doesn’t have it, please let me or the author know and we may be able to get you a copy for free.)

Here’s the official abstract for Fiona’s paper:

“Ethical decision-making (EDM) is an important element in the engineering profession. This paper explores the use of an ethical decision-making model (EDMM) as a tool for analysing and assessing the ethical reasoning skills of student engineers and their ability to apply the rationale of EDM process for ethical vignettes. The tool, distilled from several existing EDMMs, was tested against interview data collected from 12 graduating students at one private university in Malaysia. The students were asked to examine two ethical vignettes of varying scenarios and difficulty levels. This was followed by a semi-structured, face-to-face interview (corresponding to the first four steps of EDMM) to gauge their ethical reasoning behind their decision for each vignette. Their verbal responses were analysed and categorised into a four-tier rubric developed in accordance with the four steps of EDMM. Findings revealed that generally, students were able to identify the underlying issue (step 1) and the affected parties and the consequences (step 2), but they did not give much thought to potential course of action (step 3) or to testing available options (step 4). Levels of development of ethical reasoning provided by students varied between the first and second vignette. Findings suggest that the EDMM holds promise as a way to better understand and diagnose students’ readiness to face ethical challenges in their profession.”

Sivaraman, 2021

I worked really, really hard to support Fiona as she’s an early career scholar — a “Baby Doc” like Diana — and fairly new to publishing in academic journals.

I was delighted to receive this thank you note over the weekend, from Fiona.

She said I was welcome to publish it in a blog, so here you go! It’s rare to have an author who had to work so very hard thank me for the effort. Dr. Robin Fowler was another person who sent thanks, and I cherish both their comments. The editorial Fiona linked below is really quite interesting to read as well!

Dear Professor Shannon Chance,

I want to take this opportunity to thank you personally for all that you have done for me in the past 1 year (though I am a complete stranger to you).

In my little experience of publishing a few indexed journal articles since 2014, I have come across very few editors who were helpful, and more so many unpleasant experiences with editors who hold on to the manuscript for over a year without any feedback or status update leaving you in agony waiting for a response. The response matters a lot to junior researchers like me, who need to show publication input to sustain in academia.

Of all the editors I have worked with so far within my limited correspondences with them as an author, I remember the late Emeritus Professor Ray Spier (Editor of Science and Engineering Ethics Journal) left a lasting impact on me.  Prof Ray personally found time not only to reply to newcomers like me (I was still doing my PhD then), but also provided suggestions for the final revision of my manuscripts.

And, you are phenomenal. I have never come across an Editor who works closely with the author, who replies to the author’s emails and who cares so much for the final output.  Even during my PhD, I did not have the comfort of experiencing such care and supervision, and yet again I had to work on my own without a Principal Investigator during my postdoctoral fellowship. That is why I am really touched by your care and mentoring.  This paper would not have been possible without your guidance and personal attention.  Thank you so much.

Occasionally, I contribute write-ups to the local dailies in Malaysia.  Exasperated with the system, as a junior researcher, I have written about the culture of bullying and practice of ‘free riders’ in academia.  https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/05/04/publishing-folly-in-academia

The other day, I was going through your blog. I wonder how you find time to multi-task on so many things, and also find time to reply to ‘small fry’ like me. You are doing such amazing, wonderful stuff as a global leader in Engineering Education Research, STEM education, Ethics and Sustainability, Gender Inclusion and Diversity etc.

Once I land into my new job this year (I pray it will be sooner), then perhaps I can find ways to connect with you in terms of future work. 

I have taken note of your contact details undersigned in your email.  Do allow me to WhatsApp you on special festive occasions (i.e. Christmas).

Till then, thank you and take care.  Virtual Hug 😁

Regards,

Fiona

(Mathana Amaris Fiona)

Publons:  https://publons.com/researcher/1798746/mathana-amaris-fiona-sivaraman/


ORCID:  http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3623-9895

Google Scholar Citation: Mathana Amaris Fiona Sivaraman

Globetrotting in Malaysia, India and China

I’ve been covering more ground these days than normal. In a typical year, I’d never have been able to take time away from teaching during the fall semester to attend so many conferences. But this year, everything is online.

This past Sunday, I was able to deliver a two-hour workshop in India and then record a keynote speech for a conference in China. I also recently spoke on a panel in Malaysia.

I have never been to any of these places, though I would truly love to go! Nevertheless, digital platforms have allowed me to be an active part of discussions all around the world.

China

Here’s a sneak peek at my keynote speech for the Chinese Society for Engineering Education’s 15th International Symposium on Science and Education Development Strategy.

The Symposium’s theme was “Innovation of Engineering Education System under Global Challenges”.

My presentation is titled Equipping STEM graduates for global challenges via design thinking.


The production quality isn’t flawless, but given that I had ZERO tech support, I am proud of the outcome. I tested various apps for superimposing video over the slides, selected one, and managed to produce this video. All. On. My. Own.

The folks in China are polishing it up now, and hopefully inserting captions. It will be formally presented at the conference in Hangzhou, China on December 10th, 2020.

India

Being asked to deliver a workshop for the Indo Universal Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE), I invited two colleagues along to help. Inês Direito, Manish Malik, and I have conducted similar workshops in the past, and we built on that foundation. We developed our past work further for the workshop we delivered November 22th, 2020.

Ours was on component of a set of workshops to help people in India build research skills in engineering education.

We provided An introduction to literature reviews in Engineering Education.

Here’s a link to our slides, which we have assigned a CC-BY license so others are free to draw from our work as long as they cite us.

Alternatively, you can click any of these images to view the slide presentation.

Here’s an overview of the content:

You are welcome to download the journal article we analyzed in the workshop. You might also have interest in the systematic literature review (SLR) we published on grit.

Here’s a pic of one of our team’s workshop prep sessions:

Malaysia

I also got my colleagues involved when I was invited to serve on a panel in Malaysia. Actually, I was invited to serve on two panels for this conference, but one occurred 1-3 AM my time, and I decided to stick to the one held during daylight hours! After all, I was teaching here in Dublin on the same days as the conference.

The speakers from the Women in Engineering plenary are pictured above. They were absolutely amazing. Such inspiring leadership and fabulous work! The speakers were:

  • Rosmiwati Mohd-Mokhtar, USM, Malaysia 
  • Shannon Chance, Technological University Dublin, Ireland 
  • Anne Gardner, University of Technology Sydney, Australia 
  • Naadiya Moosajee, WomEng & WomHub Co-Founder, South Africa 
  • Siti Hamisah binti Tapsir, MOSTI, Malaysia 
  • Sharifah Zaida Nurlisha binti Syed Ibrahim, CEO, MMC Oil & Gas Engineering Sdn Bhd, Malaysia

This was part of the 8th Regional Conference in Engineering Education (RCEE). It was organized by the Centre for Engineering Education (CEE) and the Faculty of Engineering at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

The overall conference was on “Engineering Education Leadership in an Uncertain World”.

I presented work by Bill Williams, Inês Direito, and myself on Middle Eastern women’s experiences of collaborative learning in engineering in Ireland. Here’s a link to a recent conference paper on the topic.

We have also written a blog on this which will soon be published by TU Dublin — stay tuned and I’ll share that once it’s out.

I got to attend several other day-time sessions at the conference, including the closing session, pictured above. The crowd was warm and enthusiastic. They were really interested in learning what women from Oman and Kuwait had told me about how engineering is practiced in their countries.

Global perspective

I’m delighted to have had these opportunities. Back in 2006, when I decided to earn a PhD in Higher Education, I had a goal to learn to see patterns at a global scale. I wanted to equip myself with the research skills to to affect change and to enable myself to move abroad for work.

Getting involved in the global Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN), and now serving as its Chair, has enabled me to connect with others in meaningful ways — to analyze the way we teach, study data on efficacy, publish research outcomes, and help improve engineering and architecture education.

In addition to learning some new skills in video capture and editing this past week, I also expanded my skills in Photoshop and created a new logo for REEN. The entire REEN Board gave feedback to improve the design, and I’m pleased to unveil it to you now: