This blog post discusses the outreach activities I engaged in during my 2018-2020 Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (MSCA IF). The reason for doing outreach is to help spread knowledge to others and help diverse audiences–particularly kids and people outside academia–understand the value of research. The funding organization, which is the European Commission, wants to public to know it is getting its money’s worth by investing in research. So, during my recent MSCA IF at University College London in the UK, I dedicated one whole work package (WP4, out of six total WPs) to outreach.
WP4 Outreach Activities
The MSCA application promised to deliver a total of 19 outreach events under WP4, and I ultimately delivered at least 20, involving (1) outreach to kids, (2) outreach via social media, and (3) outreach to adults. Although I hit my targets, I didn’t exceed them to my normal degree. I was able to do far more outreach during my Fulbright Fellowship (2012-2013) to Ireland and my first MSCA research fellowship, also to Ireland (it was an Individual Incoming Fellowship, IIF under FP7) than I managed to accomplish during this MSCA Individual Fellowship. I’m still proud of the work but hope to do even more outreach in the future.
Outreach to kids
served as expert advisor for Usbourn publisher on 2 STEM activities book for kids that have been published and are for sale in stores
helped organize and lead 4 RoboSlam workshops (on computer programming and robot building)
helped organize and lead 2 RoboSlam educational exhibition booths (on computer programming and robot building)
I helped conducted four robotics and electrical engineering workshops for kids in Ireland with colleagues from my home institution (TU Dublin). Having co-founded the RoboSlam robotics outreach team in 2013, I continued to be active in RoboSlam during my MSCA fellowship, as one of the four main coordinators of events. In 2018, I was part of a team that ran a number of robotics and electrical engineering workshops for kids in Ireland over the month of August with the Wexford library service. I assisted in running two workshops in Bunclody (17th August) and two in Enniscorthy (18th August). The workshops were attended by approximately 120 children in 8-12 years old. The children built an electronics arcade game that they brought home afterward. The intention of the workshops was to encourage an interest in electronics and programming. Feedback and pictures are available here. Technical resources used (instructions, and code) at those workshops can be found here.
I also provided advising/support for the Engineering Your Future Week summer school for Transition Year students, sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. In 2018 the week focused on Robot Building and Biomedical Engineering.
I helped operate educational booths on electrical engineering, at Dublin Maker 2018 and 2019 in Ireland, with colleagues from my home institution. A large team of volunteers (staff and students) from the school participated in Dublin Maker. The theme of the 2018 stand was “paper programming” and the 2019 theme was “arcade games through the ages”.
maintained and continually updated 1 LinkedIn Discussion Board moderated (for the Research in Engineering Education Network, REEN)
maintained and continually updated 2 Facebook pages featuring grant activities (one public page and one private page)
maintained and continually updated 1 Twitter feed of engineering education activities
I hosted and created content for an educational blog on being a “researcher on the move.” The blog has 209 followers who receive direct emails of every post. In 2018 had 3732 visitors and 13,106 views (discrete clicks indicating engagement) and, in 2019, had 4316 visitors and 9887 views. I promoted the blog posts using social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and two Facebook accounts.
CHANCE, S. (2012-present). Ireland by Chance: Research Adventures in Ireland and the UK. www.IrelandByChance.com showcasing research and fellowship activities.
On the LinkedIn platform alone, my most recent 2020 blog re-post before submitting my final grant report to the European Commission garnered an additional 1520 views and 46 reactions.
I also provide content for a blog on robotics that I collaboratively manage with colleagues from my host institution. In 2018, this site had 3299 visitors and 6505 views. In 2019, it had 2437 visitors and 5642 views.
Burke, T., CHANCE, S., Berry, D., & Duignan, F. (2012-present). RoboSlam: Robot-building for Beginners. www.Roboslam.com
Outreach to adults
delivered 1 public presentation in Dublin on gender aspects of research (photo above)
provided 1 data source to UNESCO for a global engineering report
evaluated 1 sub-section for UNESCO for a global engineering report
authored 1 encyclopedia entry on the application of PBL in engineering education (and taught on this topic at a Master Class in South Africa, as shown in the photos below)
A Marie Curie Research Fellowship is–first and foremost–about developing researchers by giving them a chance to research new things, in new places, with new people. For an MSCA Fellowship, you’ve got to travel. You can come from anywhere in the world, but you can’t have lived in the country where you do the MSCA Fellowship for any more than 12 months of the 36 months before the application date.
The intention of WP5 was to increase my research skills and encourage me to share my own knowledge and skills with others (i.e., transfer knowledge to them). The MSCA application listed the following deliverables for this work package: 26 Training and Transfer-of-Knowledge sessions completed by the end of the grant period. I’m able to list 70 specific research training workshops and conferences that I attended–and there were actually more!
Yet, it is important to note that the most important training and knowledge transfer actually resulted from me providing leadership in EER. As a result of having a Marie Curie research fellowship at University College London (UCL), many doors were open to me and I was able to learn from the wealth of opportunities that emerged.
Via this MSCA grant, the I have provided: (1) leadership in publishing and (2) leadership in research events. These are summarized directly below.
Under that, a list of the completed researcher training session is provided.
Finally, in this blog, I identify outreach activities I conducted to support educators and researchers, including workshops I conducted and supervision and mentorship I provided to early career researchers (like the one pictured below, in South Africa, to help engineering teachers learn more inclusive teaching attitudes and behaviors).
As part of my training, I also earned a new teaching qualification in the UK while serving as an MSCA fellow:
Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Teaching Academy (SFHEA)
Earning this credential helped me build proficiency on the vocabulary used in educational research in the UK, which differs somewhat from the USA. Earning it will also help me demonstrate the skills needed to teach at third level in the UK and Ireland. Since earning SFHEA, I have subsequently applied for the highest available credential in this program (Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Teaching Academy/PFHEA), although the application wasn’t successful. I’ll hone my record and try again.
Research Supervision/Mentoring Skills
I have been advising a full-time PhD student at London South Bank University (LSBU) since the start of my MSCA fellowship. The student’s viva is scheduled, and on track, for August 2020. I have also mentoring 5-6 early career researchers. My activities in this realm include:
Mentoring a physics researcher through TU Dublin’s researcher mentoring program
Serving as PI for a new MSCA IF application in engineering education submitted September 2019 (which was not funded in 2019 but will be enhanced and resubmitted)
Mentor for peer reviewers with the Journal of Engineering Education (appointed in 2018)
Expert/external reviewer for applications to Fulbright Ireland (2018, 2019)
Leadership in Publishing
In the realm of journal production, I was appointed and has served as:
Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Education (2018-present)
Editorial Board, European Journal of Engineering Education (2018-present)
I serve as a peer reviewer for an academic journal in my field:
Australasian Journal of Engineering Education (2019-present)
IEEE Transactions on Education (2017-present)
European Journal of Engineering Education (2016-present)
Journal of Engineering Education (2013-present)
Incidentally, I also provided expert advice to the publisher of two children’s books, although I generally consider this activity to be “Outreach”:
Scribble Architecture, STEM activity book by Usborne Publishing Ltd.(in press)
Scribble Engineering, STEM activity book by Usborne Publishing Ltd.(2018)
Leadership in Research Networks
Opportunities to provide leadership that emerged as a result of this MSCA include:
Chair, Research on Engineering Education Network (January 2020-present)
Vice-Chair, Research on Engineering Education Network (2019-2020)
Governing Board, Research on Engineering Education Network (2018-present) and member of sub-committees including recruitment and selection of upcoming conference hosts
Nathu Puri Institute at the London South Bank University (2018-present), serving on, for example, an interview panel for new director of the Institute (2018) and a member of the Institute’s think tank.
Marie Curie Alumni Association, Ireland chapter organizing committee (2018-present)
Leadership in Funded Projects
Providing grant-writing leadership, I advised Dr. Carlos Mora in securing €56,000 in funding from the Cabildo of Tenerife in Spain to conduct education projects under a project titled “INGENIA” or “Ingenuity” to support sustainability education (I am listed as the co-PI on this grant). I also secured a £11,200 donation to UCL CEE from the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineers via Engineers without Borders UK (the funds will support my ongoing work with UCL’s CEE).
This MSCA is intended to broaden career prospects, and it definitely has. Even though I chose to return to my home university at the completion of the fellowship, I brought with me a contract valued at €237,727 allowing me to provide curriculum development services to the University College London Contracts (UCLC) over the three-year period following my MSCA fellowship (2020-2023).
In 2019, I also served as an expert evaluator for the European Commission (COFUND fellowship program).
Researcher Training sessions completed
I could provide images to go with each of these, but then I’d never get this posted… so I’ll just share the list. Each was interesting and informative and most of these activities opened a pandora’s box of ideas and possibilities.
UCL online training module and certificate earned in Safety
UCL online training module and certificate earned in Green Awareness
UCL online training module and certificate earned as Green Champion
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Finding Your Voice as an AcademicWriter
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, An Introduction to Research Student Supervision at UCL
Researcher information session organized by the Irish Research Council, Opportunities to collaborate with UK-based researchers
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Creative Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Taking for Researchers
Informational workshop on MSCA programs held at DIT
UCL Arena Guidance Sessions: Initial Guidance
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Leading Collaborative Projects
UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education’s event, In Conversation With… Angela Saini and Louise Archer
UCL Astrea Voices workshop: Choosing your journey
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Writing Books and Book Chapters
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Managing Your Reputation
UCL Arena Senior Fellow Guidance Session: Developing your application
UCL day-long Education Conference 2018 at the UCL Institute of Education
Nathu Puri Institute Thought Leadership discussion and dinner in April
SRHE day-long workshop, Migration and academic acculturation
SRHE day-long workshop, Developing curriculum, learning and pedagogies in STEM subjects: the case of Engineering
SRHE day-long workshop, Phenomenography: An approach to qualitative research in higher education
UCL LLAKES Seminar by Louise Archer Why can’t we solve the science participation ‘crisis’? Understanding young people’s (non)participation in post-16 science
Attended a UCL “Town Hall” to better understand the administrative structure of this research-intensive university, Finding a new place in society for universities
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop Publish or Perish: Getting Collaborative Social Science Published
One-day Inaugural Spring Colloquium of the UK-Ireland Engineering Education Research Network, held in Newcastle
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, The Superior Performer: How to Work to Your Strengths
SRHE day-long workshop, Publishing Academic Articles: A way through the maze
UCL Researcher Development Workshop, Induction for New UCL Research Staff
Attended a half-day of UCL conference on Impacts of Gender Discourse on Polish Politics, Society & Culture Comparative Perspectives reservation
UCL workshop, Provost’s Welcome to New Staff
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Writing and Publishing Research Papers
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Increasing Impact – Gaining Positive Media Coverage
Attended two-day Inspirefest celebrating women in technology, held in Dublin
Attended four-day conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in Salt Lake City
Attended one-day symposium at the Royal Society sponsored by the RAEng and UCL CEE, Inclusive Engineering Education Symposium
Second Nathu Puri Institute Thought Leadership Event at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG
Attended two-day 7th International Symposium of Engineering Education (ISEE 2018), hosted by UCL
UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Storytelling Skills for Teachers and Presenters
UCL Arena training for fellowship applicants at principal level, PFHEA Lunch session
Attended five-day conference of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI 2018) in Copenhagen
Attended three-day International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL 2018) plus events of the International Conference on Engineering Pedagogy (IGIP 2018) in Kos Island, Greece
UCL online training module and certificate earned in GDPR
SRHE day-long workshop, IS THERE (STILL) ROOM FOR EDUCATION IN THE CONTEMPORARY UNIVERSITY? Exploring policy, research and practice through the lens of professional education. Seminar 3
Lecture organized by the Irish Fulbright Commission, Creative Minds: In Conversation with a NASA Astronaut
TU Dublin (formerly DIT) online training module and certificate earned in GDPR
TU Dublin 2.5-hour workshop by Dr. Bill Williams, Getting published in engineering education research journals
Attended half-day IEP Research Away (Half) Day
UCL full-day workshop, Building Research Leaders
UCL Career Centre workshop, Effective Academic Interviews
UCL workshop, Providing learning experiences that enable students to acquire the right mix of knowledge, skills and competences
UCL two-hour workshop, Using and understanding bibliometrics
UCL full-day workshop, Influencing and Negotiating
UCL two-hour workshop, Copyright for Research Staff
UCL Arena Principal Fellow Guidance Session: Developing your application
Expert evaluator training briefing for the European Commission
Attended two-day spring symposium, EERN 2018 (UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network) in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Attended two-day Inspirefest (women in tech) in Dublin
Attended two-day engineering education conference, ISEE 2018 (7th International Symposium of Engineering Education) at UCL
Attended four-day engineering education conference, ASEE 2018 in Salt Lake City
Attended five-day engineering education conference, SEFI 2018 in Copenhagen
Attended three-day engineering education conference, ICL/IGIP 2018 in Kos
Attended three-day higher education conference, SRHE 2018 (Society for Research in Higher Education) in Newport, Wales
Attended three-day annual conference, MSCA General Assembly 2019 in Vienna
Attended two-day spring symposium, EERN 2019 (UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network) in Dublin
Attended four-day engineering education conference, ASEE 2019 in Tampa
Attended two-day MSCA IF monitoring event, education sector, in Brussels, June 2019
Attended three-day engineering education conference, REES 2019 in Cape Town
Attended four-day engineering education conference, SEFI 2019 in Budapest
Attended one-day conference of UK Engineering Professors Council and the Institution of Engineering and Technology, New approaches in practice, 2020
Attended two-day annual conference, EERN 2018 (UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network) in Coventry, UK
Attended 14 lectures at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture’s International Lecture Series (2018, 2019) and at least 7 other lectures in the Faculty of Engineering.
Outreach to Support Educators and Researchers (Workshops and Invited Presentations Delivered)
I provided workshops on research techniques for Early Stage Researchers as well as experienced researchers. I also provided workshops on teaching (learning theories and innovative teaching techniques) for educators. These are presented alphabetically by country:
Edström, K., Bernhard, J., van den Bogaard, M., Benson, L., Finelli, C., CHANCE, S. M., & Lyng, R. (2018). Reviewers, reviewers, reviewers! Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2018 annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Edström, K., Bernhard, J., De Laet, T., CHANCE, S. M., (2018). Doctoral Symposium. One-day pre-conference workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2018 annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
De Laet, T., Williams, B., CHANCE, S. M., & others (2018). Engineering Education Research. Workshop by EER Working Group at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2018 annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Edström, K.,Benson, L.,Mitchell, J., Bernhard, J., van den Bogaard, M., Carberry, A., & CHANCE, S. (2019). Writing Helpful Reviews for Engineering Education Journals. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2019 annual conference in Budapest, Hungary.
Hannon, P. K., Berry, D., CHANCE, S., Core, M., & Duignan, F. (2019). Physical computing: A low-cost project-based approach to engineering education. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2019 annual conference in Budapest, Hungary.
Miminiris, M., CHANCE, S. M., & Direto, I. (2019). Recognising and understanding qualitatively different experiences of learning in engineering: Variation as a learning tool. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2019 annual conference in Budapest, Hungary.
CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Gender Equality in STEM Education. Presentation delivered at Irish Marie Curie Alumni Association’s Gender Equality Workshop Programme on 3rd December 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.
CHANCE, S. M. (2018). MSCA fellowship experiences. Presentation delivered for Dublin Institute of Technology’s EPA & IUA MSCA Research Information Workshop Programme.
Govender, S., CHANCE, S., & Direito, I. (2019). Fostering Inclusivity in Engineering Education in the South African Context. Two-day Master class conducted for the University of Cape Town’s Engineering Education Existing Staff Capacity Enhancement Programme.
Akinmolayan, F. & CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Facilitating group & Problem-Based Learning in the context of engineering education. Two-day Master class conducted for the University of Cape Town’s Engineering Education Existing Staff Capacity Enhancement Programme.
CHANCE, S. M. (2020). Becoming Civil: Outcomes of a Marie Curie Fellowship with CEGE and CEE. Lunch seminar for UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education in London.
Bathmaker, A., CHANCE, S. M., & Wheelahan, L. (2019). Understanding and conceptualizing knowledge in professional and vocationally-oriented higher education: Beyond time management and interpersonal skills. Workshop provided Thursday 16 May 2019 for the Society for Research on Higher Education in London, UK.
CHANCE, S. M. (2019). Learning theories in engineering: A US perspective on student development. A class session for UCL’s new MSc in Engineering and Education.
CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Summary of National STEM Educational Policies in Relation to Girls’ Experiences in Physics in Europe and into the Engineering Pipeline.Society for Research in Higher Education conference 2018 in Newcastle, UK.
Direto, I., Malik, M., & CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews in Engineering Education Research. Workshop to the UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network (EERN) annual conference 2018 in Portsmouth.
Leão, C. P., Soares, F., Williams, B., & CHANCE, S.(2018). Challenges, experiences and advantages in being a female engineering student: voices in the first person. Presentation at the UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network (EERN) annual conference 2018 in Portsmouth.
CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Implications for Irish policy of women’s experiences in STEM education in Ireland, Poland, and Portugal. UK & Ireland EERN Spring Colloquium 2018 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Supporting diverse students: Findings from a longitudinal study of female engineering students in three countries. Lunch seminar for UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education in London.
My Marie Curie fellowship ended the last day of 2019 and I had 60 days to complete my final report. For Marie Curie Research Fellows, it can be difficult to figure out what will be required for reporting, based on discussion threads I read online.
Fellows don’t have much indication of what the report will entail until the European Commission’s “Participant Portal” invites them to submit the final report. Even then, it’s not clear how long the descriptions will need to be or where the report template is located. Only after you enter the text for the public statements, will the system inform you how long the text must be. Surprises I encountered in the official reporting process: The text you post for the public is limited to just 7480 characters! There’s specific button you’ve got to locate that contains the blank PDF template for the full report.
This blog post contains the public synopsis of my 2018-2019 project as well as a link to a PDF of the full report, which uses the required template and thus may be of help to other fellows:
I’ve posted this blog for (a) people interested in the research I’ve done and also (b) other MSCA fellows who have questions about the reporting process. This particular post shares my short, public synopsis (below). It’s likely I’ll post more detailed info in coming blogs, along with photos of the MSCA grant period that I’ve never posted before.
Getting the photos loaded onto WordPress has provided me a pleasant trip down memory lane. I plan to share more of these in coming posts.
1 – Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project (For the final period, include the conclusions of the action)
This section should include information on:
What is the problem/issue being addressed?
Why is it important for society?
What are the overall objectives?
The Action “Designing Engineers: Harnessing the Power of Design Projects to Spur Cognitive and Epistemological Development of STEM Students” looks at how engineering and architecture students learn, and how design projects and teamwork affect students’ thinking and overall development. The research questions how students learn to design and how their thinking changes over time with regard to what knowledge is, where it comes from, and how it gets validated; their views on this constitute their epistemologies. Such topics are important because society needs more engineers and more STEM graduates. Not only is there widespread lack of engagement, but problems also have been identified in graduate engineers’ ability to think holistically—today’s graduates do not seem prepared to identify and address global challenges in the comprehensive way society needs. Although engineering is often perceived as a dry, technical subject there is great room for creativity.
Architecture programs around the world are filled with highly engaged students. In engineering, there has been a move to teach in more active, hands-on, project-based ways that incorporate design, as done in architecture. Engineering can learn from architecture’s historic success in engaging and teaching students to design, but engineering has placed more focus than architecture has on understanding how students learn. The fields of engineering and architecture education have much to learn from each other.
Objectives of this Marie Skłodowska Curie Action (MSCA) have been to (a) develop and promote better ways to teach and support STEM students; (b) help transform engineering into a more diverse and creative field; and (c) investigate questions surrounding the theme, To what extents do design projects influence the cognitive and epistemological development of undergraduates in engineering and architecture? A parallel goal of the MSCA Individual Fellowship is to foster the development of the individual researcher (that’s me!).
2 – Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far (For the final period please include an overview of the results and their exploitation and dissemination)
Work was conducted via 6 work packages (WPs). WP1 comprised 3 qualitative research studies that yielded 4 conference publications and 1 journal publication to date, with an additional 3 conference publications and 2 journal manuscripts underway. WP2 sought to build skill with multiple research methodologies. In it, the Fellow delivered 5 conference presentations, 3 published journal articles, and 1 encyclopedia entry, with 2 conference manuscripts underway. WP3 involved developing a special-focus journal issue. The Fellow exceeded goals by spearheading development of 2 different special focus journal issues (published 2018 & 2019). The Fellow is leading the development of a third special focus issue (for 2020). In WP4, the Fellow delivered 20 public engagement activities to popularize STEM and communicate findings. In WP5, for researcher training and transfer-of-knowledge, the Fellow attended 70 intensive training workshops and multi-day conferences. She provided leadership in publishing and research at university, national, and international levels. To transfer of knowledge, she conducted 18 workshops for researchers and educators; she provided supervision and mentoring for early career researchers. She was appointed Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Education, Editorial Board member of the European Journal of Engineering Education, and serves as Chair of the global Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN). During the grant, she earned a teaching qualification in the UK (SFHEA) and secured €56,000 (as co-PI) for education projects in Spain, a £11,200 donation to UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education from the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineers via EWBUK, and €237,727 in contract work from UCL Consulting. The project was managed under WP6.
Results of this MSCA are reported in: (1) forthcoming papers on how architecture and civil engineering students conceptualize design creation and knowledge generation; (2) forthcoming papers on ethics, sustainability/SDGs and early-career engineers from a study on UK civil engineers’ practices and perceptions of global responsibility; (3) papers about women’s experiences studying engineering including a longitudinal study (that uses data collected over four years in Ireland regarding Middle Eastern women’s experiences studying engineering abroad) and analysis using the framework known as A Hero’s Journey (of a single mother’s challenges and successes studying and working in engineering); (4) a systematic review of grit in engineering education; a multi-method study of engineering teachers’ experiences implementing problem based learning (PBL). The data sets collected during this MSCA will inform and enhance dozens of publications in the coming years, in addition to the ones produced and published during the fellowship itself.
3 – Progress beyond the state of the art, expected results until the end of the project and potential impacts (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
This MSCA has pushed the frontiers of engineering education research (EER) forward in a numerous ways. The 2 special focus issues the Fellow spearheaded have shed new light onto socio-cultural diversity and engineering students’ identity formation and epistemic development. The educational blogs, STEM activity books for kids, and fun, creative events conducted by the Fellow are helping popularize engineering—the first STEM book was nominated for an award of excellence in the UK. The engineering education journals, and the workshops and community up-skilling events led by the Fellow are helping cultivate broader human capacity to produce quality research in the field of EER (e.g., Chairing the Research in Engineering Education Network to help raise the quality, credibility, and usefulness of EER globally and delivering Master Classes to help engineering teachers and researchers upskill).
This MSCA allowed the Fellow to develop agility with many different research methodologies and promote best practices to the larger EER community (e.g., co-authoring a study on “grit” in engineering education and identifying how to report it for maximum impact). The Fellow’s project on UK civil engineers exposed shortfalls in ethics and sustainability education and identified how engineers learn about these crucial topics, in that research participants said they did not learn enough about them in university. The Fellow’s PhD student is generating important new knowledge about processes and organizational systems that support creativity in engineering production; working together they are generating new models that describe shortfalls in engineering for UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and illustrate what can be done to address them. Through the Fellow’s research on architecture and civil engineering students, valuable new understandings are emerging related to how students conceptualize both design creation and knowledge generation.
Impacts anticipated from the MSCA are increased and improved: focus by engineering educators on developmental patterns shared among engineering students; student retention as a result of improved support; diversity as techniques to support minority students are increasingly employed; overall teaching in engineering education as a result increasingly credible and useful research; focus on ethics and sustainability in engineering education; and production of tools and models to help engineering educators foster creativity and engineering firms contribute to realizing the UN’s SDGs. A final overarching impact is enhanced public perception of engineering as a fun and creative field.
The campus of DIT Grangegoreman (soon to be TU Dublin) which is now under construction
I found myself surrounded today, by dozens of brilliant scholars. I’d been invited to speak at a workshop on Gender Equality held by the Irish Alumni Chapter of Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA). The half-day workshop was held in St. Laurence Church on the Grangegorman Campus of DIT.
Marie Curie fellows, past and present, traveled in from all over Ireland to attend the event. The Irish MSCA Alumni chapter is just two years old and it covers the whole of the island, welcoming researchers from north and south, east and west.
A lovely group of early-career researchers arrived in last night from Cork for the workshop, for instance. They came to Ireland from many different countries across Europe and beyond to work with the excellent researchers here.
Dr. Chiara Loder, with Ireland’s MSCA office, helps researchers write winning proposals
Dr. Geraldine Canny, the MSCA National Contact Point and Head of Ireland’s MSCA Office.
Dr. Amir Tabaković, a Strategic Research Proposal Coordinator housed in DIT’s Research Enterprise and Innovation Services office organized the event. Amir was formerly a Marie Curie Fellow to TU Delft in the Netherlands. Several other alumni assisted in organizing, including Dr. Declan Devine, the Chair of Ireland’s MCA Alumni chapter who was a Marie Curie fellow–following his wife’s own MSCA fellowship. They have spent time doing research in Switzerland, the US, and now back home in Ireland.
The day’s line-up of speakers was both exceptionally accomplished and full of insight. We started with introductions by our hosts, Amir and Declan, and a talk by Dr. Geraldine Canny, who is Head of the Irish Marie Skłodowska-Curie Office and National Contact Point – H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Programme. She is responsible for the delivery of the office suite of application supports and also provides input into MSCA policy as a Programme Committee member. The program continued as follows:
Jean Cahill, one of my mentors and heroes
I’ve included photos of many presentations. During the coffee break and post-workshop lunch, we got to socialize and network. I asked Jean Cahill–a Head of Research at DIT and one of the people who has helped me with writing various grants in the past–how many Marie Curie Fellows we’ve had at DIT. She rattled off five, and I was two of them! I think, for institutional records, I’m counted as an incoming MSAC Fellow (2014-2016) and an outgoing MSCA Fellow (2018-2020). The reason I’d asked Jean about this was that I had just met DIT’s newest incoming MSCA fellow, and she’s female. Interestingly, all the five fellows to DIT who Jean identified are female. The program is open to men and women alike, so the success rate for women applying to DIT is very high! I’ve always found DIT to be a very supportive environment. In fact, Jean and others like former National Contact Point Dr. Jennifer Brennan, helped me draft both of MSCA applications–going well above and beyond their job requirements and providing loads of pertinent advice that was crucial to my success in securing funds. For both of my MSCA applications, Professor Nancy Stenson and Dr. Marek Rebow helped with editing as well.
Chatting with Professor Brian Bowe in DIT’s Rathdowne House
For today, Amir had asked me to talk about my experiences as a Marie Curie fellow and identify some gender aspects of my research work. I encouraged the audience to push beyond gender and seek inclusivity for all types of diversity. I asked them to promote wider considerations of diversity in European funding calls and evaluations, as well as in their own research. I asked them to consider publishing gender-related aspects of their findings in journals that reach more than one type of specialty audience and I provided examples. Then I described one of the research projects I’ve done as an MSCA fellow and the data analysis I have underway now that I will report via the Society for Research in Higher Education.
Dr. Shanonn Chance with DIT’s Dr. Barry McCauley, an expert in BIM and Quantity Surveying
At the conclusion of the workshop, I met up with my former Fulbright and MSCA supervisor, Professor Brian Bowe. Then I walked from DIT Grangegoreman to DIT Bolton Street by way of our new path–which connects the two sites and takes just seven minutes to walk. There at Bolton Street, I returned a library book (Marton and Booth, 1997) and had a chat with Dr. Barry McCauley, who was serving as my temporary replacement but has since been appointed to a permanent full-time position of his own at DIT. I couldn’t be more pleased, as Barry is an excellent teacher and researcher and is excelling even while adjusting to his new prosthetics. Barry was injured on a construction site when he was 21 and his legs were crushed, but he has not let this stop him. He went on to get his Ph.D. and he’s a force to be reckoned with! We are lucky to have him at DIT; I really enjoyed learning Navis Works and CostX from him in prior years and he has done some very important research on uptake and implementation of BIM (Building Informational Modelling) globally.
If you are a researcher reading this who is interested in applying for a fellowship to come do research in engineering education at either DIT (soon to be TU Dublin) or at my other institution which is UCL, or in BIM implementation here at DIT, please contact me and I’ll help you write a grant proposal (IrelandByChance at gmail dot com).
It’s been a week of new adventures. Last Monday my plane landed in Dublin and I began a new job at the Dublin Institute of Technology as a Marie Curie Research Fellow. This is a two-year post funded by a generous grant from the European Union that will allow me to extend the research I began as a Fulbright scholar. I spent several months last summer going the proposal, and met with success.
Many people helped with the proposal, including my mentor Dr. Nancy Stenson. She has been a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow (IIF) for the past two years… she told me of the IIF program, encouraged me to apply, and helped edit and refine my proposal. Without her, I’d never have succeeded. Jean Cahil, Jennifer Brennan, and Marek Rebow were also instrumental in the effort. Colleen Dube, Pamela Eddy, Mike Murphy, John Donovan, and Brian Bowe provided valubale assistance as well.
Brian will be serving as my research supervisor for the next two years. Receiving this grant helped focus efforts in the college on the topic of research in engineering education. It lead to the formal establishment of CREATE (Centre for Research on Engineering, Architecture, and Technology Education, or something similar).
I’ll tell you about my recent adventures in an upcoming post….