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.

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.

Architecture Scribble Book now at booksellers

Introducing the “Architecture Scribble Book” — a brand new book from Usborne Publishers.

As with the “Engineering Scribble Book” published in 2018, I served as consultant on the content and presentation for this book project. These are outreach projects I completed during my Marie Curie fellowship at University College London.

The front cover of “Architecture Scribble Book”

The “Architecture Scribble Book” is an activity book for kids, chock full of principles we teach architecture students at university level, presented in a way that is fun and easy-to-understand.

Pages from “Architecture Scribble Book”

Much like the “Engineering Scribble Book”, this “Architecture Scribble Book” aims to give kids a taste of this STEM-oriented career. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Some people like to add an A to STEM, making it STEAM, to make sure the art and architecture side of things doesn’t get overlooked. These books show that architecture and engineering are both highly creative fields!

Covers of both “Scribble Architecture” and “Scribble Engineering”

With this architecture activity book, kids get to learn about design and technology as they build skills and understanding, and learn about the values architecture need to hold to do their jobs well.

Here’s a video by Usborne Publishers on the architecture book:

Lessons include spatial planning, daylighting, geometry, structural properties, material reuse, universal design, effective use of materials, and much more.

Kids also learn basic conventions of representation, such as those used in floor plans, elevations, and perspective drawings.

Pages from “Scribble Engineering”

These concepts are similar in some ways to those covered in the “Engineering Scribble Book”, but the content is unique. Together the make a very nice set.

All said, the “Architecture Scribble Book” is a lovely addition to the Usborne series, and could make a great gift for the children on your Christmas gift list.

Here’s a video by the publisher on the engineering book:

Dublin Maker here we come!

The TU Dublin RoboSlam gang is alive and kicking!

Nearly 20 of us met in February to start planning our exhibition for Dublin Maker 2020. The big event is to be held on the 27th of June in Herbert Park, on the south-side of Dublin.

Last week, a portion of our team reassembled to get different people’s parts working together in a coordinated way. I’ve created a little video of that second prep session for you to enjoy.

One thing that worries me, though, is that all the stuff my colleagues have made looks so very cool, so incredibly professional, that visitors to our Dublin Maker booth will think they BOUGHT this ready-made. Not so.

For instance, Keith Colton (in the video with the bandaid on his thumb) used a 3D printer to make the car he’s holding. He made it from scratch.

Shane Ormond combined a whole bunch of cutting-edge technologies to get a tiny camera on top of his race car to feed video into the VR headsets and TV monitors, all the while controlling the car’s behavior from a hand-held device. He’s been sending us video updates from his house and it’s been cool to watch his car speed under sofas and chairs and around his lovely home.

When I tired driving, I couldn’t control the car too well–and I’m pretty used to driving sporty cars! In this case, the car didn’t quite have the handling of my 2004 Nissan Z350. The car was racing around at top speed and the VR googles made it all seem much too real!

Note in he video how Paul Leamy’s stomach turned when his car flipped over. Seemed real! You can see on the TV monitor, but viewed through VR goggles it’s all the more gripping.

So, see for yourself!

Come on out on June 27th to see where all this leads. Our team is just at the start and we plan to build a plethora of buses, stop lights, trams, and Dublin city sites for our cars to whizz though on Dublin Maker day 2020.

Brand new Bachelors in BIM launched today at TU Dublin

It’s been a busy and exciting week here in Dublin. Monday at noon I was appointed as Programme Chair for the new BSc (Hon) in BIM (Digital Construction) at TU Dublin. We launched the programme at lunchtime today, Friday, just four days later. I had a lot of studying up to do to get up to speed to host the induction/orientation.

This course is for people who have a three-year Bachelors degree (called level 7 in Ireland–this is the standard Bachelors in Europe). They will have studied Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) for their first degree and want to learn about Building Information Modelling and upgrade to a four-year Honours level Bachelors (called level 8 in Ireland, and more like the Bachelors degrees offered in the USA). In the future, we will also accept people who have level 6 (apprentice) degrees and Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL).

This link provides info on Programme Outcomes, Awards & Graduate Attributes, for example. Take a look at the amazing resources and software packages available for students to use and learn. The program includes Work Place Learning (here’s the handbook for it) as well as a research Dissertation (handbook) supported by a Research Methods module that I’ll be teaching alongside Debbie Brennan.

So, today we held induction and welcomed 24 students into our first cohort!

This time next year, successful students will walk away with a BSc (Hons) and a host of new knowledge and skills related to digital construction.

My colleagues — Dr. Avril Behan, Mr. Kevin Furlong, Dr. Barry Mcauley, Ms. Deborah Brennan and others — were involved in designing this programme, and they even got a grant (Springboard+) to cover much of the cost for the 2020 cohort. They did all this work while I was away, working in London. What a truly lovely programme they have built!

It’s really needed here in Ireland — it’s great for the people taking the course who will gain valuable new skills — and it’s great for the Irish construction industry which desperately needs people skilled in BIM. I find this to be an extremely worthwhile project and I’m delighted to be part of it and to work with such a great team.

Here’s a press release from TU Dublin:

Technological University Dublin is delighted to announce the commencement of its level 8 BSc (Hons) in BIM (Digital Construction), designed and delivered by the same team who created TU Dublin’s award-winning MSc in aBIMM suite (ICE Postgraduate Course of the Year 2019). This programme is designed to meet the Lean Construction, BIM and digital transformation upskilling needs of holders of level 6 qualifications (including craft apprenticeship) plus industry experience, and of level 7 (ordinary degree) award holders in construction-related areas.  Focussing on discipline-specific BIM modelling (architecture, construction, MEP engineering & structural engineering) and multidisciplinary co-ordination, underpinned by a Lean Construction philosophy, this programme will equip graduates with the skills necessary to take up roles as BIM Modellers, Technicians, and Coordinators with consultants, contractors, clients, and public sector bodies.  The programme is delivered in blended format with attendance required on the Bolton Street Campus for one afternoon per week (typically Fridays from 12:30) from late January to late May with additional online delivery (one  evening per week – evening tbc and depending on discipline). From September to December the programme is delivered fully online with a number of support face-to-face workshops. 

The course handbook is available at: 

https://sites.google.com/a/dit.ie/handbook-of-the-bsc-hons-in-bim-at-tu-dublin-2020/ 

TU Dublin secured 90% of the funding for places in this year’s cohort from the Irish Higher Education Authority’s Springboard+ programme. Thus, the cost to selected participants in 2020 is only €220.

The application deadline for this year has passed (it was was Monday January 13th 2020 for commencement at end of January). This first cohort will commence their coursework in January 2020 and walk away with diplomas in a highly marketable field of expertise (BIM and digital construction) in February 2020.

If you would like more info on the programme, please register your interest by emailing the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies <smdt.adm@tudublin.ie>. Our school administrator can then send additional info as we prepare for upcoming cohorts. 

Architects Love School, why not teach engineers a similar way?

When I started studying “higher education” as a PhD subject at William and Mary in 2006, I wondered why architecture students seem so engaged–passionate and persistent–and why engineering didn’t use the same methods that seem so “sticky” and engaging.

I’m still asking these questions.

I explore them in the article “Using Architecture Design Studio Pedagogies to Enhance Engineering Education” which I wrote with John Marshall, The University of Michigan 
and Gavin Duffy, Technological University Dublin. It has been published for a while, and I just noticed that since the embargo period has ended, I can direct you to the final version instead of just the pre-press version! It was published by the International Journal of Engineering Education. 

https://arrow.dit.ie/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1117&context=engscheleart2

The abstract explains:

“Problem-Based Learning pedagogies that require high levels of inquiry and hands-on engagement can enhance student learning in engineering. Such pedagogies lie at the core of studio-based design education, having been used to teach architects since the Renaissance. Today, design assignments and studio-based learning formats are finding their way into engineering programs, often as part of larger movements to implement Student-Centered, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) pedagogies. This spectrum of pedagogies is mutually supportive, as illustrated in the University of Michigan’s SmartSurfaces course where students majoring in engineering, art and design, and architecture collaborate on wickedly complex and ill-defined design problems. In SmartSurfaces and other similar PBL environments, students encounter complex, trans-disciplinary, open-ended design prompts that have timely social relevance.

“Analyzing data generated in studio-based PBL courses like SmartSurfaces can help educators evaluate and track students’ intellectual growth. This paper presents a rubric for measuring students’ development of increasingly refined epistemological understanding (regarding knowledge and how it is created, accessed, and used). The paper illustrates use of the tool in evaluating student blogs created in SmartSurfaces, which in turn provides evidence to help validate the rubric and suggest avenues for future refinement. The overall result of the exploratory study reported here is to provide evidence of positive change among students who learn in PBL environments and to provide educators with a preliminary tool for assessing design-related epistemological development. Findings of this study indicate design-based education can have powerful effects and collaborating across disciplines can help engineering students advance in valuable ways.”

DOI

10.21427/D7V62S

Keywords

Problem-Based Learning, Student-Centered Learning, Design-Based Learning, epistemology, architecture education, design studio pedagogy, engineering education, cognitive development

 

Focus on Student Development

Our new special focus journal is out!

This is a major part of my Marie Curie fellowship, because I wanted (a) to learn more about publishing and (b) build the knowledge base regarding “student development” in engineering.

I’m particularly interested in identity development and epistemic cognition (how students think about knowing and what knowledge is). I am myself working on a major research project exploring these epistemic topics, but with this journal issue I helped provide other people who are working on similar topics a place to publish their work.

It’s a really nice set of papers–three on identity and five on epistemology, with an introductory statement up front which I wrote with the people I brought on board as guest editors. The editorial team spent the past 18 months on this project–getting authors invited, articles competatively selected then carefully reviewed and enhanced.

You may remember that we issued a call for papers about 18 months ago. We managed to keep the whole project on track schedule-wise and the final printed version came out in August 2019, a full four months before I’d promised the funders I’d deliver it!!!!! How often will I get to say something like that!? Delighted to have the chance now.

Here’s the introductory statement:

Practical Epistemic Cognition in a Design Project—Engineering Students Developing Epistemic Fluency

Jonte Bernhard Anna-Karin Carstensen Jacob Davidsen Thomas Ryberg

Teacher Learner, Learner Teacher: Parallels and Dissonance in an Interdisciplinary Design Education Minor

Desen S. Ozkan Lisa D. Mcnair Diana Bairaktarova

Here’s an official overview of the issue:

“This Special Issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education focuses on using enquiry-based design projects to spur engineering students’ development, so as to increase understanding and application of the relevant theories, foster higher rates of student development and achieve this in healthy and productive ways.

Each of the eight papers in this Special Issue focuses on a specific aspect, presenting an empirical research study on either epistemological or identity development among engineering students. Five of the papers are on epistemological development or ‘epistemic cognition,’ and three on identity development. The overall set of resources is presented so engineering educators can gain familiarity with existing theories on how students change and grow over their university years, and can consider the findings of empirical studies and what these might imply for their own teaching and for their students’ learning.”

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8786829

If you’ve got a manuscript you’d like to publish with this journal, you can find links on the website of the IEEE Education Societyhttp://ieee-edusociety.org/about/ieee-transactions-education. Or, feel free to drop me a line at <irelandbychance dot com> to ask advice–I’m an Associate Editor of this journal.

Fostering Inclusivity in Engineering Education in the South African Context

img_5642-1I spent the first week of July in South Africa, facilitating a two-day Master Class on “Fostering Inclusivity in Engineering Education in the South African Context” and then attending the Research in Engineering Education Symposium, REES 2019, which adopted the theme “Making Connections.” In this blog, I’ll tell you about the workshop and show you photos from the workshop and our travels to Cape Town, where my closest collegue, Inês, and I had a day to explore before heading out to the workshop location.

Fostering inclusivity in engineering education means creating learning environments that are welcoming to everyone, and where all members have equitable access to learning. We asked: How do we support the creation of inclusive environments for all engineering education stakeholders?

img_5752Our interactive Inclusivity workshop focused on supporting engineering educators wanting either to develop inclusive learning and teaching environments or to research the effectiveness of their interventions.

The workshop was facilitated by Shanali Govender from the University of Cape Town (UCT) alongside Inês Direito and myself from University College London (UCL). In addition, John Mitchell (from UCL) and Brandon Collier-Mills (from UTC) provided panel presentations and Mohohlo Tsoeu (UTC) was part of our planning sessions.

This was the eighth and last of a series of EEESCEP workshops. This one was held at Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch–a glorious place to visit even during South Africa’s winter!

img_5813-2Twenty-five engineering teachers from all over South Africa attended the workshop and the discussions were truly insightful.

As nervous as I had been leading up to the event–having visited South Africa previously to both study the history of Apartheid in the built environment and grow my understanding of the country’s tumultuous past–this workshop turned out amazingly well.

Participants came in with an endearing openness and desire to make engineering education more welcoming for all. They welcomed the facilitators warmly and openly as well. We all benefited from hearing new perspectives and giving serious thought to things we might do to improve the situation in engineering education, where white male norms predominate.

img_5831-1Drawing on participants’ own experiences with teaching and conducting research in engineering education, we encouraged participants to engage with contemporary and global issues related to inclusivity within engineering education and consider emerging research. Participants reflected upon their own practices and identified inclusivity aims and goals.

Discussions helped all of us identify barriers to inclusivity and develop ways to remove barriers in practice. A participant described the event this way:

The facilitators were excellent in their delivery of the doctrine of inclusivity to engender seeds for policy formulation, innovation, development and practice of engineering education in an ever-changing world.

It is worthy of note that the workshop has begun to provoke a silent revolution in teaching, learning, and research that will seek to enhance economic, social, scientific, infrastructural and holistic development of South Africa, and the world at large in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The discussion on Inclusivity seeped over into the REES activities, as many of the participants, facilitators, and presenters from the EEESCEP workshop continued on, from the workshop to REES, which started the day after our workshop ended. Being part of both events helped me build stronger ties to the engineering teachers in South Africa and I eagerly await more opportunities to work with them on projects.

Sightseeing in Cape Town

Inclusivity Master Class

Mighty Dublin Makers

img_6580-1I took to the air, heading from London to Dublin to get trained up as a mentor in TU Dublin’s staff development program and also lend a hand at this year’s Dublin Maker fair in Merrion Square.

img_6473-1The School of Electrical and Electronics Engineering hosted two booths: one on Co-design for technologies to increase access to folks with varying capabilities, and the second on the theme “Timewarp Arcade.”

The Timewarp booth featured arcade games across the decades from Victorian Times up to the mid 1980s. An automated talking head (with moving eyes and jaws) was designed by Shane Ormond. The head could tell which card a visitor picked and interact with the visitor in real-time.

There was a Rock-Scissors-Paper machine designed to beat its human competitors.

img_6529-1A strength test demonstrated how those old-time hammer games were rigged. This display included a heart rate checker.

Frank Duignan contributed palm-sized arcade games and automated name badges.

Here are some images our colleague Paul Stacey, from Blanchardstown campus of TU Dublin, Tweeted of his sons at our booth:

Padraig built a large-scale early 80s arcade game.

And finally, a photo booth that I helped run, designed by Ted Burke, created customized retro album covers, circa 1985. This display showed how green screen works. Visitors could dress in green to create the illusion that their heads were floating in mid-air.

img_6501All in all, it was an interesting, fun, and rewarding day. Until, of course, I got to the airport to find my evening Ryanair flight out of Dublin delayed multiple hours. Cheap but not so easy to use!

Hands-on Robotics for Women’s Day

My colleagues who conducted the robotics workshop across town from mine last Friday sent photos of their RoboSlam. I’ve attached photos of the workshop held at Grangegoremen, now known as TU Dublin city campus. In all, we had 13 facilitators and over 40 participants join us for electronics workshops to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019.

The events were organized by TU Dublin’s office of civic engagement, and their staff provided these photos.