skip to main content


Title: The Modalities of Governance in Engineering Education
In this paper or poster presentation, we hope to present to and interact with our audience with respect to a key touchpoint in our national study of engineering education reform. Based on an NSF collaborative grant, our project team has conducted approximately 280 semi-structured interviews at over 40 different institutions with regards to change processes that operate within engineering education. Originally inspired by our earlier work on ABET, we framed our study around questions of governance, namely how national organizations and national conversations do and don’t shape changes in engineering education. However, our early interviews made it very clear that US engineering schools viewed themselves as participating in a competitive market, where local initiatives and innovations are as important if not more important to their student experience and institutional reputation. This said, market mechanisms and the way in which local innovations circulate (entrepreneurship, maker spaces, humanitarian engineering) are themselves a form of coordination, pointing to more subtle modes of governance that operate within engineering education. Drawing on the multi-theory framework of Austin and Jones’ for understanding Higher Education Governance (2015), we use this presentation to begin to tease apart the different modes through which change occurs within engineering education.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1656125 1656117
NSF-PAR ID:
10180718
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
ASEE annual conference
ISSN:
0190-1052
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Unlike medicine, the engineering profession establishes new standards for engineering education through a distributed system of governance that mirrors the distributed structure of the profession. In this paper, we present our initial findings and data resulting from an NSF-sponsored study of this phenomenon. This qualitative study is multi-site and multi-scale in its design, and draws on interviews with faculty and administrators, of different rank, from at least two-dozen different colleges and universities as well as engineering professional organizations. We also complement our interview data with content analysis of archival documents and published studies, reports, and statements. The research questions that define our study consist of understanding and documenting the a) the basic structure of the engineering profession and U.S. higher education as it impacts engineering education reform initiatives; b) the historically evolving body of practice that has governed these reforms; c) the ways in which the epistemic habits of engineers, such as an emphasis on quantification and measurement, contributes to reform agendas and outcomes; d) the extent to which engineering educators are cognizant of the social and historical contexts within which they operate, and how their articulations of this context come to define dominant directions in reform; e) the processes through which destabilization and closure occurs with regards to shared standards in engineering education; f) more specifically, the mechanisms through with engineering education reform agendas are coordinated across different institutions; f) and likewise, common mechanisms through which such coordination is frustrated, undermined, and sometimes reversed, especially as a consequence of competing agendas that arise out of institutional diversity and other identifiable causes. By the time of our annual meeting, we expect to be able to offer initial insights into each of our research questions. This paper will offer a preliminary presentation of our findings, including the presentation of illustrative evidence from our data set. The study is designed to provide all engineering educators with a deeper understanding of the context in which they operate, with the aim of producing more effective, inclusive, accommodating, and enduring solutions to the challenges of engineering education. (Note: A more speculative paper, exploring the theoretical and philosophical dimensions of governance in engineering education without a specific emphasis on our research questions and data set, has also been submitted separately to the TELPhE Division. The two papers will be different, presented by different lead authors, and complement one another.) 
    more » « less
  2. Unlike medicine, the engineering profession establishes new standards for engineering education through a distributed system of governance that mirrors the distributed structure of the profession. In this paper, we present our initial findings and data resulting from an NSF-sponsored study of this phenomenon. This qualitative study is multi-site and multi-scale in its design, and draws on interviews with faculty and administrators, of different rank, from at least two-dozen different colleges and universities as well as engineering professional organizations. We also complement our interview data with content analysis of archival documents and published studies, reports, and statements. The research questions that define our study consist of understanding and documenting the a) the basic structure of the engineering profession and U.S. higher education as it impacts engineering education reform initiatives; b) the historically evolving body of practice that has governed these reforms; c) the ways in which the epistemic habits of engineers, such as an emphasis on quantification and measurement, contributes to reform agendas and outcomes; d) the extent to which engineering educators are cognizant of the social and historical contexts within which they operate, and how their articulations of this context come to define dominant directions in reform; e) the processes through which destabilization and closure occurs with regards to shared standards in engineering education; f) more specifically, the mechanisms through with engineering education reform agendas are coordinated across different institutions; f) and likewise, common mechanisms through which such coordination is frustrated, undermined, and sometimes reversed, especially as a consequence of competing agendas that arise out of institutional diversity and other identifiable causes. By the time of our annual meeting, we expect to be able to offer initial insights into each of our research questions. This paper will offer a preliminary presentation of our findings, including the presentation of illustrative evidence from our data set. The study is designed to provide all engineering educators with a deeper understanding of the context in which they operate, with the aim of producing more effective, inclusive, accommodating, and enduring solutions to the challenges of engineering education. (Note: A more speculative paper, exploring the theoretical and philosophical dimensions of governance in engineering education without a specific emphasis on our research questions and data set, has also been submitted separately to the TELPhE Division. The two papers will be different, presented by different lead authors, and complement one another.) 
    more » « less
  3. Given the infancy of engineering education as an established field and the recent increase in early career faculty aligning themselves with the discipline, it is imperative that the community better understand the experiences of these new faculty members. As a result, we will be able to enhance national efforts to train and develop faculty prepared to drive change in engineering education. Accordingly, this two-phased study will investigate how institutional context influences the agency of our research team and other early career engineering education faculty as it relates to facilitating change in engineering education. Faculty agency is important because faculty play a central role in making change, and there is a need to further understand the factors that influence their ability to do so. This work leverages collaborative inquiry and collaborative autoethnography to explore the lived experiences of our research team, which consists of six engineering education faculty with different roles and responsibilities who are positioned in varied settings at different institutions. We represent diverse perspectives with regard to our goals, visions, and training in engineering education. This project officially started in May 2017; however, we have been collecting data since August 2015. Our poster will present a summary of our current progress, which includes the use of the Q3 Research Quality Workshop to guide our plans for data collection and analysis. This was important to our work, because in Phase I of our study we are combining elements from auto ethnography and collaborative inquiry to explore our research questions. In addition to our study’s methodological impact, the results will provide the engineering education community with evidence-based insights on conditions that facilitate change efforts by early career engineering education faculty. By sharing our findings with current and developing engineering education graduate programs, we will enable them to make programmatic changes to benefit future faculty. These findings also provide a mechanism for divisions within the American Society of Engineering Education to develop programming and resources to support the sustained success of their members. 
    more » « less
  4. Given the infancy of engineering education as an established field and the recent increase in early career faculty aligning themselves with the discipline, it is imperative that the community better understand the experiences of these new faculty members. As a result, we will be able to enhance national efforts to train and develop faculty prepared to drive change in engineering education. Accordingly, this two-phased study will investigate how institutional context influences the agency of our research team and other early career engineering education faculty as it relates to facilitating change in engineering education. Faculty agency is important because faculty play a central role in making change, and there is a need to further understand the factors that influence their ability to do so. This work leverages collaborative inquiry and collaborative autoethnography to explore the lived experiences of our research team, which consists of six engineering education faculty with different roles and responsibilities who are positioned in varied settings at different institutions. We represent diverse perspectives with regard to our goals, visions, and training in engineering education. This project officially started in May 2017; however, we have been collecting data since August 2015. Our poster will present a summary of our current progress, which includes the use of the Q3 Research Quality Workshop to guide our plans for data collection and analysis. This was important to our work, because in Phase I of our study we are combining elements from auto ethnography and collaborative inquiry to explore our research questions. In addition to our study’s methodological impact, the results will provide the engineering education community with evidence-based insights on conditions that facilitate change efforts by early career engineering education faculty. By sharing our findings with current and developing engineering education graduate programs, we will enable them to make programmatic changes to benefit future faculty. These findings also provide a mechanism for divisions within the American Society of Engineering Education to develop programming and resources to support the sustained success of their members. 
    more » « less
  5. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) innovators lag behind their non-HBCU counterparts in the commercialization of innovations as they were originally set up as teaching and blue-collar trade institutions. There exists a strong need for education and training to bridge this gap by promoting the commercialization of innovations in HBCUs and thus transform next-generation HBCU innovators into entrepreneurs. HBCUs are promoting entrepreneurial education and mindset via changes in engineering education programs and curriculums. Several federally funded programs like the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) Center for Nanotechnology Research Excellence (CNRE) are promoting innovation and intellectual property generation at HBCUs. NSF I-Corps Program supports the education and training of innovators about the commercialization of mature or patented innovations at HBCUs. The NSF I-Corps Introduction to Customer Discovery explores strategies in identifying key customer segments through extensive customer interviews, which is a fundamental step in the commercialization process. This paper discusses our educational experience in the customer discovery process for Pumpless Solar Thermal Air Heater (Patent Number 10775058). To learn about prospective customers’ attitudes and perceptions of the innovation, we conducted 30 interviews with potential customers (end users). Our innovation is focused on providing portable, cost-effective, healthy, and environmentally friendly space heating solutions. We tested several hypotheses about the value proposition of our innovation during interviews to explore the market segments for potential commercialization. During the Customer Discovery process, we came to know about new issues such as health issues caused by the dry air in winter. We also learned that mitigation of problems due to the current heating system required a humidifier to reduce health issues that added additional cost. Based on our interviews our innovation is suitable for customers needing: (i) Heating source mitigating health issues, (ii) add-on technology to reduce their heating bills. Our next step is to pursue market segments for our innovation. We plan to utilize the current experience of commercialization of intellectual property to develop training modules for the MECH 302 Undergraduate Research Experience and MECH 500 Research Methods and Technical Communication courses offered under the mechanical engineering program at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). 
    more » « less