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:

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Implementation Section

Many applicants run out of steam before they reach the Implementation Section, but in order to score high enough to be competitive, a proposal must carefully address each and every point requested in the Guidelines for Applicants. Leave no stone unturned if you want to win an MSCA Individual Fellowship! They’re extremely competitive, with a success rate around 9-12% depending on the year.

This post shares the Implementation Section of my unsuccessful 2015 proposal. I’ve also shared the scoring rubric, that I used to get the proposal over the line the following year when I earned the funded needed to spend two years at University College London. Your host organization will need to help you prepare. Find someone in their Research Support Office to help, in addition to getting help from your supervisor and the host country’s MSCA National Contact Point (NCP). They should ALL want to help you as the EU funds will be coming into their country and will support their local economy.

If you’re wanting to come to TU Dublin, our Research Support Office is awesome. Jean Cahill has been a huge support to me in writing grant proposals, with others in the office also chipping in to help us win.

The full suite of my posts on this topics includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

The evaluation sheet shows that I lost points in two categories for the work plan. Evaluators though it was not clear enough and I didn’t convince them I could finish everything in two years.

3     IMPLEMENTATION    

3.1  Overall coherence and effectiveness of the work plan

Table 6 provides a timeline of milestones (the lowercase letters correspond to Work Package descriptions below). Country codes indicate 10-day visits for data collection, outreach, and training (also see Table 4, data collection).

Table 6: Work Plan

WP1: Qualitative studies (Q1-3). Deliverables: two conference papers and a journal article. Milestones: (a) university ethics approvals secured, (b) 60 interviews completed and professionally transcribed, (*) coding and analysis.

WP2: Mixed-methods study (Q4). Deliverables: statistical calculations, a conference paper, and a journal article. Milestones: (c) survey questionnaire developed based on results emerging from Q1-3, (d) survey approved by ethics committees, (e) survey data collected from ~500 participants, and (*) statistical analysis.

WP3: Background research and book manuscript (Q5). Deliverable: book manuscript. Milestones for sending publisher: (f) proposal with background research, (g) first draft, (h) second draft, (i) permissions and final proof.

WP4: Outreach activities will engage multiple sections of society, as detailed in Section 2.2, Tables 4 and 5. Conferences dates are estimated for (1) SEFI, (2) PAEE, (3) REES, (4) EPDE, (5) ASHE, and (6) AERA based on both recent conference dates and when research results and findings will be available to present.

WP5: Training and Transfer-of-Knowledge. Project-related milestones: (j) social science training from Prof. Tyler and CEE researchers, (k) statistical analysis training from Prof. Tyler and CRUCIBLE researchers, (m) tailored project management training from Prof. Tyler, (n) tailored grant-writing mentorship from Prof. Tyler, and (t) a likely secondment will span a 3-month period (t) and will develop transferable skills. Other training activities (to diversify Dr. Chance’s competencies and develop transferable skills) are detailed in Tables 2 and 4, and match travel.

WP6: Management activities. Milestones: (o) Career Development Plan, (p) bi-weekly meetings with Nick Tyler to monitoring the Plan and manage quality and risks, (q) formal reviews with Prof. Tyler every six months, and consultation with (r) UCL financial managers, and (s) UCL Enterprise regarding Intellectual Property management.

3.2  Appropriateness of management structure & procedures, inc. quality management & risk management

Financial management for grants at UCL is provided centrally by Research Services within Financial Services. The research division collaborates closely with the engineering Dean and CEE’s administrators about financial monitoring and grant reporting. Upon arrival, Dr. Chance will take Introduction to Managing UCL Finances and her project will receive its own account code. Prof. Tyler and Dr. Chance will have financial control for the project with support from Research Services. IPR management will be conducted via meetings with experts fromUCL Enterprise. Progress monitoring will focus on quality and timeliness of research, training, transfer-of-knowledge, dissemination, and the Career Development Plan. Prof. Tyler and Dr. Chance will meet twice monthly to evaluate each of these items and to monitor research methods and grant writing. Prof. Tyler will help ensure Dr. Chance’s full integration into UCL and CEE and will provide entrée into CRUCIBLE events. In addition, Dr. Chance will report her progress regularly to colleagues in CEE—seeking feedback, collaboration, and advice. Through daily contact and regular CEE meetings, Emanuella Tilley and Drs. Paul Greening and John Mitchell will help Dr. Chance monitor progress of R&D on new undergraduate design activities and MSc activities/modules. Dr. Chance will meet with Dr. Abel Nyamapfene and Profs. David Guile and Andrew Brown several times each, for advice on targeted social science topics (please see Capacities). Risk monitoring will occur monthly in meetings with Prof. Tyler, to address emerging issues, such as those speculated in Table 6. The management procedures for this grant, along with Professional Development and VITAE training courses (see Section 1.2), will develop Dr. Chance’s skill in administering and managing research projects.

Table 6: Risk mitigation plan

3.3  Appropriateness of the institutional environment (infrastructure) (Please see Capacities chart also.)

University College London has world-class mechanisms to support international fellows in all aspects of training, result dissemination, public engagement, and project management. UCL is a global leader in funded research—running €347M in EU-funded research since 2007, including 173 MSCA projects. The project has the Dean’s strong support and the resources offered by the host facility (CEE), the institution, and Prof. Tyler guarantee that all aspects of the proposed research will be supported at UCL. The University commits to providing a safe and supportive work environment for Dr. Chance, a stable research contract, guidance of a highly experienced supervisor, an array of Professional Development and VITAE programs, administrative and financial accounting support, access to exemplary library resources and databases, and a shared open-plan office space. The office will be equipped for the computational needs of this project with up-to-date computer equipment, external hard-drives and secure data backup systems, telephone and Internet access. UCL also provides high-performance computing capacity for researchers. It has one of the world’s largest academic supercomputers available for use in this project. Logistical support for visiting researchers is provided by the offices for HR and Accommodation Services, and by UCL’s “European Office.” Orientation programs include On-line Induction, Diversity in the Workplace, and the Provost’s welcome and staff benefits marketplace. UCL and all its engineering departments earned Athena SWAN awards.

3.4  Competences, experience & complementarity of participating organizations & institutional commitment

Institutional commitment. The UK is steadfastly committed to educational excellence and these values infuse the UCL ethos (see Capacities chart). All new 3rd level teachers are mandated to earn teaching qualifications—providing a ready audience for Dr. Chance’s work and means to exploit findings and get tutors to apply them in practice. The EURAXESS Rights webpage notes the UK’s unique nation-wide research infrastructure that streamlines how 3rd level institutions earn the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Badge, which UCL earned in 2013. According to EURAXESS, “The UK’s approach includes ongoing national evaluation and benchmarking.” Additionally, UCL is a member of the European Charter for the Researchers and it upholds the Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers. UCL has an impressive record of internal, international, and intra-European collaboration that facilitates teamwork and multidisciplinary exploration of scientific questions. The approximately 2,500 research staff and fellows working at UCL today enjoy a dynamic, diverse, and supportive learning environment. This well-structured research environment will provide Dr. Chance with new examples, competencies, and skills, and catapult her research career forward. The proposed work plan, the resources offered by UCL and CEE for its implementation, the peer-to-peer training with and from CEE and CRUCIBLE researchers, the active participation of international partner organizations, and Dr. Chance’s growing record of success effectively work synergistically to ensure delivery of high-quality research that can have positive, large-scale impact for society.

Participating organizations.HMH, Science|Business, and CIF and described in the Capacities charts. Partners in Poland, Portugal, Ireland, and USA previously contributed to Dr. Chance’s research. This EF grant will facilitate mobility, providing access to resources for training and audiences for data gathering, outreach, and dissemination.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Impact (dissemination and communication, 2.2)

In 2015, sub-section 2.2 of my MSCA IF proposal on “Effectiveness of the proposed measures for communication and results dissemination”, in the Impact section, identified strategies for “exploiting” or “valorizing” possible business ideas stemming from the proposed work, as well as disseminating results and findings to academics, and communicating the value of research to non-academic audiences.

This example wasn’t funded in 2015, but was the following year when it was amended in response to reviewer comments. The full suite of posts I’m sharing on this proposal includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

2     IMPACT

2.2  Effectiveness of the proposed measures for communication and results dissemination

Table 4: Integrated plan for data collection, outreach, and training (by host and partners)

Exploitation strategy.

To meet global challenges, engineering must become more flexible, creative, and socially responsive4, 5, 6. Dr. Chance’s work will help transform the culture of engineering education and track outcomes. Results will facilitate publication of a book and possible spin-off businesses in consulting both addressing Question Q5) What knowledge of epistemology and design thinking can help educators support student development?

There is global demand for dramatic changes in engineering today, but education leaders don’t yet know what to do. Dr. Chance and Prof. Tyler have fresh, innovative ideas that are based on their prior work. Their body of work can provide a solid foundation for this EF project. So far the thrust of modernization in engineering education has been to implement Student-Centered and Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Similar pedagogies have been used to teach architecture since the Renaissance and engineering is fostering a healthy new focus on teamwork. Bridging the best practices from these fields and supplementing them with research is essential. Collaboration among architecture and engineering educators is crucial for knowledge transfer. R&D Dr. Chance leads as an EF will reach:

  • 2nd level students (via outreach to STEMettes in the UK for girls ages 11-22, RoboSlam robot-building workshops in the UK and Ireland, and Perspektywy Education Foundation in Poland for supporting girls in STEM)
  • 3rd level students (through new UCL undergraduate engineering modules and Perspektywy mentorship programs)
  • 3rd level teachers (through new UCL post-graduate modules that exploit Dr. Chance’s research) (see also Table 4)

Exploitation activities will embed research findings (collected and/or generated by Dr. Chance) into project briefs and module descriptors. The new MSc programs will have tremendous positive impact. This MSc program (to be launched in 2016) will be unique. It will be the world’s first and only Masters-level program designed to help university tutors upgrade their teaching skills across the realm of engineering topics. (DIT is launching an MPhil to train engineering education researchers, and Aalborg offers an MSc in Problem-Based Learning.) UCL’s program has broad appeal and a captive audience, since every new university teacher in the UK must earn at least one credential in teaching and learning. Two other avenues for exploiting Dr. Chance’s research findings are the creation of new programs for Creative Industries Federation and the possible creation of a business to help organizations (universities, businesses, and corporations) design and implement more effective education and training programs.

Public engagement strategy.

Dr. Chance will encourage public interest and involvement through engineering activities and communication. During the EF, Dr. Chance will advise multiple organizations—assisting some with program evaluation, strategic vision, and grant-writing support—and conducting engineering events for various age groups. In the UK, Dr. Chance will make public presentations through Creative Industries Federation (CIF) and STEMettes. Activities for STEMettes will include STEM projects (for 50+ girls) plus one or more RobSlam robot-building workshops (for 20+ girls). Dr. Chance will seek opportunities to make school presentations, become a MSCA Ambassador, and deliver public talks. Communication activities involve attracting the attention of news outlets. Dr. Chance will write one or more articles for Perspektywy Magazine. To help attract attention of TV, radio, and newspapers in the UK, Dr. Chance will attend UCL workshops in media relations for researchers. A 2014 workshop she took on this topic helped gain recognition for her work and as a result she was quoted in an Irish Timesarticle on women in STEM. She will continue to build public relations skills using UCL’s exceptional resources. She will maintain an educational blog to increase public understanding of research topics and activities.

Table 5: Impact targets for communication and dissemination (see Table 4 for outreach targets)

Dissemination strategy.

Dr. Chance will disseminate research findings to international audiences via conference papers, journal articles, and publication of a 100,000-word handbook for educators with a comprehensive new set of resources on epistemological development and design thinking (addressing Q5). Its planning, compilation, and editing will take 2-2.5 years. It will likely include 10 chapters of new primary research by leading experts in various aspects of epistemological development and design thinking, 8 chapters summarizing and synthesizing existing theories and literature in new ways, and an introduction and conclusion by Dr. Chance. She will seek funds to support an invitational symposium on the book’s topics to recruit specific experts internationally. This will facilitate knowledge generation and prompt submittal of high-quality chapters. Her work will help overcome a current problem, identified by Dr. Bill Williams (a probable co-editor for the book), wherein EER journals published in the USA almost exclusively cite US scholars. Trans-Atlantic authorship can help. She will recruit a 3rd editor as well.

Dr. Chance has the goal of publishing results of Research Questions 1-4 in two of the world’s top-ranked journals in EER and higher education. These ask: Q1*) To what extents do design and pedagogy influence women’s choice to study engineering at third-level? Q2*) Among women, to what extents do design-based pedagogies prompt more sophisticated epistemologies than traditional teaching formats? Q3*) How do women experience engineering over time, from early design projects to entering industry? Q4*) Among men and women, to what extents do design pedagogies prompt more sophisticated epistemologies than traditional teaching formats? She is targeting Learning and Instruction (impact factor 3.585, SJR 2.907) and the Journal of Engineering Education (impact factor 2.059) for publication. Dr. Chance aims to present preliminary findings at three top-tier conferences (AERA, ASHE, and REES) where she will also network internationally. She will assemble teams of peers to co-author conference papers on educ. design (for SEFI, PAEE, EPDE, see Table 5); leading these teams will develop her skills.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Impact (skills and conditions, 2.1)

Envisioning the impact your your future work poses quite a challenge. You nearly need a crystal ball! I hope that reading the draft of the Impact Section of my 2015 proposal (unsuccessful that year, but successful when modified in response to reviewer comments and re-submitted in 2016) will provide you ideas and inspiration for crafting your own plan of action.

In this post, I share subsection 2.1, on “Enhancing research- & innovation-related skills & working conditions to realize potential of individual”. In this subsection, I also show how the proposed work aligns with European policies and priorities.

The full suite of posts I’m sharing on this proposal includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

Hopefully, your proposed sponsor/PI can help you brainstorm ideas for increasing the impact of your work. It may be difficult to get feedback from a proposed PI during August (when you’re probably working on the proposal) since most European academics are out-of-office. Try talking this through with some people in your field of study if the PI isn’t available.

The (MSCA)-ITN the Innovative Training Networks program ENHPATHY ...
MSCA logo — Marie Curie had huge impact on science and life at a global level. This funding program celebrates her accomplishments and her perseverance.

2     IMPACT

2.1  Enhancing research- & innovation-related skills & working conditions to realize potential of individual

The training Dr. Chance can receive UCL is essential. It will provide management and innovation skills necessary for her to lead research teams on behalf of the EU. At DIT, she is successfully developing expertise in phenomenological research. Via a new fellowship at UCL, she will tackle ever-bigger challenges. She will master new research skills (developing statistical expertise to amplify the power of her qualitative results) and new transferrable skills (from global leaders in research). She will gain new exposure to industry. Her current projects at DIT are carefully aligned with policy foci of FP7 IIF, which is geared toward transferring knowledge into Europe by bringing foreign researchers here. Through FP7, Dr. Chance has been bringing—from the US to DIT—international perspectives and knowledge of curriculum design, program evaluation, architecture and design education, as well as various frameworks and procedures for conducting educational research. In order to grow and excel in research, she and DIT’s CREATE research group must develop a wider skill set. This will enable them to manage large-scale projects for education and industry in the EU—training that Prof. Tyler and UCL can readily provide. New skills, essential for Dr. Chance to garner a large-scale competitive grant to lead an independent research team, are:

  • Managing multiple projects and budgets, gained by exposure to a well-established research management system.
  • Preparing and submitting applications for complex, larger-scale grants with multiple partners.
  • Creating new programs at 2nd, 3rd, and post-graduate levels and rigorously assessing them.
  • Conducting large-scale surveys and learning to analyze them with new techniques to extend generalizability.
  • Supervising PhD students and learning to secure funding for their research.
  • Operating within the industrial sector and learning to focus research on questions relevant to industry.
  • Communicating STEM topics to target audiences via events and public media, and compiling/editing books.

Horizon 2020 recognizes these types of need, supporting ongoing development of experienced researchers through policies and EF programs. The EU seeks to enhance “international cooperation in research and innovation” through a strategic approach that tackles global societal challenges. The EU seeks to develop/deploy effective new solutions to achieve “excellence and attractiveness in research and innovation” and ensure its own economic and industrial competitiveness. By leveraging interdisciplinarity in innovative ways, this project will deliver great benefit to UCL, DIT, Dr. Chance as a researcher, partner institutions and engineering education globally. It will also benefit the EU—economically, socially, scientifically—by addressing problems described in section 1.1 and through:

  • Improved pedagogies for engineers that attract additional engineers from a larger, more diverse pool of people.
  • Perfecting phenomenology as an approach for EER and extending its generalizability across the EU via surveys.
  • Building resources to recruit and skills and train new scholars in engineering education to research EU problems.
  • Cross-pollinating and coordinating educational offerings among engineering education centers in the EU.

As a result of this EF, UCL’s new CEE will reap benefit from the US and Irish perspectives, connections, and skills that Dr. Chance will bring. Dr. Chance will connect UCL’s CEE with DIT’s CREATE research group and intends to return to CREATE following the EF, to transfer critical knowledge back to DIT—bringing new credentials and crucial new skills. She will help CREATE gain formal status as a research center, secure large-scale grants, and attract emerging scholars to Ireland who can learn new research skills and generate new knowledge for society.

This project addresses the focus of H2020 EF and all six key Indicators for promoting and monitoring Responsible Research and Innovation defined by the European Commission: (1) public engagement, (2) gender equality, (3) science education, (4) open access, (5) ethics, and (6) governance. This proposed work supports many 2015 key initiatives of the Innovation Union, including: (1) promoting excellence in education (through MSc, undergrad projects, outreach, and dissemination) and skills development (of both Dr. Chance those she transfers knowledge to); (2) delivering the European Research Area (5 keys explained below); (3) focusing EU funding instruments on Innovation Union priorities (e.g., societal challenges related to STEM); (3) promoting openness and capitalizing on Europe’s creative potential (increasing creativity by using design thinking in engineering); (4) spreading the benefits of innovation across the Union (through collaboration and outreach in four EU countries); (5) increasing social benefits (supporting students in STEM); and (6) pooling forces to achieve breakthroughs (creating European Innovation Partnerships). The secondment supports IU Commitment #2B to support “knowledge alliances” between education and business and #7 to increase involvement of SMEs. Dr. Chance’s research supports Europe’s Flagship Initiative for Youth on the Move by developing modern education systems to deliver key competencies and make education more relevant to young people’s needs. It addresses all 5 key prioritiesof the European Research Area:

1) More effective national research systems (by strengthening UK and Irish research through UCL and DIT).

2) Improved trans-national cooperation (through cross-border links, research agendas, and coordinated offerings).

3) A more open labor market for researchers (providing training crucial for Dr. Chance to base all research in EU).

4) Gender equality/mainstreaming in research organizations (research to support female students, conducted about and by women, which incorporates all 9 recommendations on research content listed in the EU’s gender toolkit).

5) Optimal circulation, access, and transfer of scientific knowledge (via diverse dissemination, communication, and outreach, including an open-access book—part of IU Commitment #20 and Point 5 of ERA Communication 2012).