Vibrant networks producing INGENious results!

Most days, I find myself communicating with colleagues from afar on various projects, proposals, and ideas. On a typical day, I hear from Dr. Inês Direito in London (UK), Dr. Lelanie Smith in Pretoria (South Africa) and Dr. Carlos Efrén Mora Luis in Tenerife (Spain). We have many overlapping interests–one being how to understand student motivations and emotions and how to use this understanding to help students tackle and persist through challenges. I often hear from our co-author Dr. Bill Williams, from outside Lisbon (Portugal) as well.

A past meeting of minds among Inês (center), Lelanie (right), and me. These days we can only meet online.

In addition to engineering motivations, we are also all interested in sustainability — environmental, economic and social. So over the past few weeks, WhatsApp and Signal chats have been rich and frequent.

Today alone, Lelanie, Inês, and I discussed research plans. Inês, Bill, and I submitted a conference paper on Brexit (with Inês in the lead and comments from Bill and me). Inês and I refined a journal manuscript on engineering ethics (with me in the lead and verbal input from Inês — she will edit my current version in the morning).

Down in the Spanish Canaries, Carlos has been fighting sand storms, as dust from the Sahara Dessert enveloped the islands. The weekend’s sandstorms were one of a number of challenges he’s faced recently, but he’s never one to give up.

Carlos (Dr. Carlos Mora) speaking at the launch of the INGENIA project. Hundreds of students attended the event, which featured speakers from around the world.

Carlos and I didn’t win the grant we applied for this past September, despite having put months into the proposal. We’ve picked ourselves up, brushed off the disappointment, and developed a plan to perfect and resubmit. I know all too well that resubmitting makes a world of difference! It’s the best way to win funding. Yesterday, I was rallying our troops, gathering support for a new round of work. I am confident that eventually we will succeed.

But we haven’t been sitting around waiting for success to come.

In December, Carlos submitted an additional grant proposal, this one to the Cabildo of Tenerife, Spain, for €56,000. He received funding for the project titled “INGENIA.” Carlos explained to me that the word “Ingenia” comes from “Ingenio,” which is “Ingenuity” in English. So the project is fostering “Ingenuity” to support sustainability education.

I’m honored that (as a result of me coaching him on how to write grant proposals) he included me as a co-PI.

On the 31st of January, Carlos and his colleagues in Tenerife launched his extremely well-designed INGENIA project. It was a true thrill when over 300 people attended his launch that Friday!

Carlos has summarized in English that “INGENIA wants to show that students can find sustainable solutions to real life problems linked to SDGs in Tenerife.” Students will build their own research teams and find a supervisor who will help manage the financial resources for their project.” In other words, the students “will have to find relevant problems and then propose solutions. The final part of the process is selling their solutions to companies and administrative public offices.”

Students will engineer their solutions and compete for funding to realize their projects. Below, I’ve included information that Carlos wrote to described the project, which is being conducted in Spanish. I can understand a bit by reading the Spanish materials he produced, but he was kind enough to translate for me/us!

INGENIA project

The Spanish public universities agreed recently contributing to the 2030 Agenda by building and transferring knowledge and skills to society about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Universities can contribute with teaching, learning, and student-participation methods to transfer not just the skills, but the motivation needed to face the SDGs. Like other Spanish higher education institutions, University of La Laguna (ULL) endorsed the United Nations (UN) SDGs initiative, and has a detailed understanding of the importance of its local problems linked to the environmental, social, and economical sustainability of the Canary Islands.

INGENIA is a project coordinated by ULL that is focused on the needs of the local society in the Canaries that supports building knowledge and skills on the participating students. INGENIA uses Project-oriented Problem Based Learning (PoPBL) learning strategies to motivate the students to find and propose solutions to real problems linked to the SDGs around their own environment.

Objectives

  • Train university and high school academic staff in using active learning strategies to impulse SDGs.
  • Educate postgraduate students, and academic staff, in facilitating techniques and strategies to guiding students in complex projects linked to SDGs.
  • Develop real student projects with a high potential for positive impact in the Canarian society.

Implementation

INGENIA will be implemented in three stages:

  • Informative and training actions. Informative actions will include a conference to be held at ULL in its theatre showing how students can change the world. Training actions will include workshops with specialists in Engineering Education focused on PBL and the evaluation of the impact of student projects.
    Goal: Get teachers motivated to help students in writing their proposals. Each of these teachers will also serve as guarantors for a team of students, and guarantors will assume the financial responsibility of the projects they back.  
  • Training of facilitators. A group of postgraduate students will receive specific training for PBL, Motivation, Conflict Management, and Project Management. Facilitators will collaborate with guarantors in guiding the student teams.
    Goal: Having at least one facilitator for each wining proposal.
  • Project development: INGENIA will include a call for proposals. Student teams must justify the relevance of the problem and the feasibility of their solutions. Winning teams will receive funding for their projects, and must execute their projects within two months. At the end of this period, each team will write a report to identify the impact of their solutions. Students will participate in a public exhibition in October 2020, and will also have the opportunity to show their solutions to companies and public institutions with the aim of getting additional funding to continue their projects.

The launch was a huge success and reached the press. Noticias Cananias and Eldiario both ran stories.

https://www.noticanarias.com/tenerife-la-universidad-de-la-laguna-inaugura-el-proyecto-ingenia-con-250-asistentes/

https://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/nekuni/campus/ULL-promueve-emprendimiento-desarrollo-sostenible_0_990751736.html

Carlos explained that the 31st was a day full of feeling. One of the speakers told such a moving story that the audience shed tears of emotion. Specifically, two students described their experiences; the second of these is working with ‘invisible’ people, meaning people who appear in social statistics, but have no work, no home, and thus no address. Carlos said she did an excellent job transmitting her feelings. She said, for instance, “that one day, she cooked rice for homeless people, but she was so busy that she forgot to turn off the cooking plate.” The rice was damaged, but she salvaged and packed up as much rice us she could, and went to give it to people in the street in Tenerife. She gave a portion to one man, and stayed looking at him. As the man was eating that rice, he stopped, looked at her eyes, and said what a lovely smile she had.

When she finished her narrative at the launch, one retired professor raised his hand to say something, but when he tried to start broken into tears. He cited numbers — the number of people invisible to all of us — and then he said that he had lived this experience along with her, and that she had touched his heart. The student walked down from the stage and gave the professor a big embrace. All the assistants, students, and teachers in the audience started to applaud.

It is this sort of change Carlos hopes to inspire among more students, and this is the sort of communication I received from Carlos daily.

After the student’s talk, many people were in tears, including Carlos. But he couldn’t stop to weep: he was next up on the stage.

Carlos needed to explain details of the program and how it will run. He had to explain the schedule and what will be expected of the various people working together in teams — including the student team members as well as the post-graduate and faculty member (e.g., professors) advising each team.

Carlos said the event was so motivating, inspiring them all to go out and find problems to solve. He received oodles of questions from students and academics wanting to participate. He said “Yes, I still can’t believe it, but something positive happened today!”

I have included images that are copyright of the photographer, Emeterio Suárez Guerra, and used with permission of Carlos.

Supervising Thomas Empson’s Ph.D. Research

thomas-empsonI just had my bi-monthly supervisory meeting with my Ph.D. student from London South Bank University, Thomas Empson. I really enjoy these meetings because Thomas is firing all cylinders and his work in sustainable production is moving full speed ahead.

Today, we discussed three of his current projects.

His Ph.D. thesis/dissertation study is the first, and foremost, of these projects. He’s just received his formal approval to proceed from the university’s ethics committee, so one of the most tedious (but nevertheless crucial) parts of the Ph.D. work is behind him! Two high-profile companies have just agreed to participate in his project–allowing him to study in great detail their cases of sustainable design and production.

Secondly, we discussed a conference abstract that we submitted and got accepted for development into a full paper and presentation at the upcoming the 21st International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (EPDE) conference, run each year by the Design Society. Our full paper is due March 4 and the conference will be held at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, September 12 & 13, 2019.

Our paper draws together parts of Thomas’ Ph.D. literature review and ties this background research on existing theories and models of sustainability to a project he’s running for the Design Museum, called The Great Competition, which is the third big project we discussed.

“The Great Competition is a new national design challenge for undergraduates for the 2018-19 academic year. It aims to promote greater industrial innovation and multi-disciplinary collaboration between design and engineering, encouraging students to develop innovative solutions to today’s most pressing social and environmental issues.

This year, undergraduate students are invited to respond to an industry-led live brief on sustainable manufacturing, inspired by the UK Government’s Industrial Society. A judging panel of leading experts across design, engineering and related fields will select the short-listed and winning submissions. Short-listed submissions will have the opportunity to take part in a designer-led masterclass and Awards ceremony in May 2019. The winning submission will also receive a cash prize of up to £3000. The Great Competition is delivered through the generous support of The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851”.  —The Great Competition webpage

Thomas’ work for The Great Competition was just featured on LSBU’s website, and I hope you’ll take a look at the article:

Branching out: LSBU research fellow tours universities UK-wide to promote The Great Competition

I’ve uploaded screenshots of the web page here, and you can view the original with live links at http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/about-us/news/the-great-competition

thomas lsbu 1

thomas lsbu 2

thomas lsbu 3

 

Closing a Chapter

In preparation for our chapter, Tim Cole updated me on VBCPS's sustainability strategies.

Last month, while working on our chapter, Tim Cole and I discussed VBCPS’s sustainability strategies.

I’m celebrating a moment of success here before I hit the sack for the night.

I just submitted a full draft of a chapter called “Designing School Buildings to Enhance Performance and Learning” for a book called Marketing the Green School: Form, Function, and the Future that will be part of the Advances in Educational Marketing, Administration, and Leadership (AEMAL) Book Series.  To make that project more fun, I enlisted Virginia Beach City Public School’s Director of Sustainability, J. Timothy Cole, as my supporting author.

This chapter provides a way for me to share some of the research I did for my dissertation and to extend my knowledge — I got to learn from Tim’s successes in Virginia Beach.  Tim has helped create 8 LEED-quality school facilities (5 are certified and 3 are in process to become certified). He even helped pilot LEED v1 in the 1990s.

This is the second chapter I have completed in the two months since I’ve been home.  The other chapter is called “Bringing it all Together Through Group Learning.” It is for a Wiley publication called New Directions for HIgher Education. That project was fun because I got to work with the book’s editor, the illustrious Dr. Pamela Eddy.

Since returning home on August 23, I’ve also managed to compile and submit a dossier to my University, submit a grant proposal asking for funding to help  conduct future research, spend a good amount of time with my students, implement some new teaching techniques, and — this week — get my midterm grades in on time and prep to advise students.

Oh, yes, and tonight I also had a lovely dinner with my dad and step-mom, Joyce, who are in town on business!  It was a real treat to spend a few hours with them.  Joyce is the Director of Admissions for the Vet School at Virginia Tech and she is recruiting at Hampton University in the morning.

All this is  pretty typical in the day of a professor… but I will sleep well tonight, knowing that I’m doing the best job I can possibly be doing right now, despite all the odds I’ve stacked against myself.

It is really nice to step back, take a deep breath, and be thankful for work and health and a ray of happiness every now and then.

And now, to sleep.   There’s much more to do in the morning….

Promoting Sustainability at HU

HU Faculty Institute 2014-1-Shannon ChanceToday was a busy first day back at Hampton University.  The dean re-introduced me to the faculty with a big “welcome home!”  I have to admit,  my colleagues’ enthusiastic greetings made me feel like a superstar all day.

After the morning keynote sessions, the whole faculty headed over to the HU waterfront for our annual picnic. This year’s weather was amazing and the jazz ensemble sounded lovely.

The faculty wrapped up the afternoon with information sessions, one of which I helped facilitate.  My colleagues and I encouraged our peers to integrate environmental topics into the courses they teach.

You can view my Prezi online:  I showed a few images of how we integrate sustainability into architecture courses at HU.  I also discussed the “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” course I teach in the summer at William and Mary.  I took the opportunity to promote student-centered pedagogies (which I studied at Dublin Institute of Technology) and the importance of getting students to generate new knowledge (a core idea in W&M’s School of Education).

Electric Storage Heat

The bricks in my electric storage heater.

Electricity costs a lot in Europe.  Years ago I’d heard the cost was generally six times as high as in the USA.  As a result, the Europeans are more careful about the way they use energy.  They try not to waste it.

Many Irish homes use electric storage heat.  The system mimics adobe construction of the southwestern United States.  It uses “thermal mass” (in the form of bricks) to soak up heat when it’s free (from the desert sun) or cheaper (at night when purchased from the utility company in Ireland).

The bricks hold the heat until the air on the outside gets colder than they are, and then they release the heat they are holding into the air to warm it.

I’ve posted photos of Keith, the maintenance guy for my apartment building, checking one of my electric storage heaters. They’re a bit difficult to get started at the beginning of the winter season.  Mine needed extra attention because a toddler who used to live in this apartment stuffed small plastic items into the heating units. Keith had to clean them out.

In any case, I hope this technology keeps getting used and improved, as it’s a system that makes a lot of sense environmentally.

Get heated at night (when electricity costs less) and absorb the heat energy to release it during the day.

From Theory to Practice

The class I taught this past summer at The College of William and Mary is being featured by the university’s public relations department for helping students move ideas into action and spurring environmental change.  Check it out at:

http://www.wm.edu/news/stories/2012/students-sustainable-dining-proposals-put-into-action-at-boehly-123.php

One of our many field trips in the summer “Educational Planning for Environmental Sustainability” class at William and Mary.  This one, to the campus herb gardens, was coordinated by student Justine Okerson and led by W&M’s current Sustainability Fellow, Patrick Foley.  The cafeterias at W&M get all the herbs they use from these gardens.