skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Shealy, T."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. The research presented in this paper explores features of temporal design neurocognition by comparing regions of activation in the brain during concept generation. A total of 27 engineering graduate students used brainstorming, morphological analysis, and TRIZ to generate concepts to design problems. Students' brain activation in their prefrontal cortex (PFC) was measured using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Temporal activations were compared between techniques. When using brainstorming and morphological analysis, highly activated regions are consistently situated in the medial and right part of the PFC over time. For both techniques, the temporal neuro-physiological patterns are similar. Cognitive functions associated to the medial and right part of the PFC suggest an association with divergent thinking and adaptive decision making. In contrast, highly activated regions over time when using TRIZ appear in the medial or the left part of the prefrontal cortex, usually associated with goal directed planning.
  2. The Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) method and toolkit provides a well-structured approach to support engineering design with pre-defined steps: interpret and define the problem, search for standard engineering parameters, search for inventive principles to adapt, and generate final solutions. The research presented in this paper explores the neurocognitive differences of each of these steps. We measured the neuro-cognitive activation in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of 30 engineering students. Neuro-cognitive activation was recorded while students completed an engineering design task. The results show a varying activation pattern. When interpreting and defining the problem, higher activation is found in the left PFC, generally associated with goal directed planning and making analytical judgement when interpreting and defining the problem. Neuro-cognitive activation shifts to the right PFC during the search process, a region usually involved in exploring the problem space. During solution generation more activation occurs in the medial PFC, a region generally related to making associations. The findings offer new insights and evidence explaining the dynamic neuro-cognitive activations when using TRIZ in engineering design.
  3. The United Nations recognizes reducing the effects of global warming as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) (#13). This goal is interconnected and critical to improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth globally. Civil engineers will play a vital role in meeting this goal. To understand how civil engineering students perceive global warming, we surveyed a national sample of civil engineering students in their final semester of college (n = 524). We asked them (a) if they recognize both the technical and social issues associated with global warming and (b) when they believe global warming will start to have a severe effect on themselves, others, and the planet. Civil engineering students are significantly more likely to recognize the technical issues associated with global warming than social issues. In particular, the majority of students understand global warming is an immediate issue for the environment, engineering, health, and science, but less than half recognize global warming presents social justice, poverty, and national security issues. Moreover, civil engineering students hold an inverse relationship between spatial distance and the timing of the effects of global warming. The majority of students believe global warming is currently having a severe impact on plant andmore »animal species, the environment, people in developing countries, and the world's poor but do not recognize themselves in this group. Instead, civil engineering students predominantly believe the effects of global warming will start to have a serious impact on themselves, their family, and people in their community in 25 to 50 years. These results are troubling because if those beliefs translate into students waiting to address climate change for another two to five decades locks in more emissions and increases the chance of future and more severe global humanitarian crises. Educational interventions are needed to change these perspectives about time and impact.« less
  4. Anthropogenic climate change is irreversibly affecting the planet and society. Civil engineers hold responsibility to design and construct built-environment spaces that decrease climate changing emissions. The purpose of the research presented in this paper is to assess how undergraduate civil engineering programs contribute to this goal. A cross-sectional comparison between data from a prior national survey of freshmen engineering students interested in civil engineering and pilot data from a national survey to senior undergraduate engineering students was used to assess students’ belief in climate change, their understanding of climate science, and desire to address climate change in their careers. The results indicate that senior undergraduate civil engineering students are more likely to believe that climate change is caused by humans (67%) compared to freshmen engineering students (47%). These seniors are also more likely (73%) to agree that action should be taken to address climate change. Yet, only 37 percent hope to personally address climate change in their careers. Senior civil engineering students are more likely than their peers in other engineering disciplines to take classes that include sustainability and climate change as topics (predominately in engineering electives), yet their knowledge of climate science is no better, and in several instances,more »worse than their engineering peers. For example, civil engineering students are more likely to agree with the statement, “I believe a cause of global climate change is nuclear power generation,” and “I believe a cause of global climate change is the ozone hole in the upper atmosphere.” Undergraduate education is likely contributing to increased belief and recognition to address climate change but an educational gap still persists in understanding. Future research should explore why misconceptions still exist even when climate change is taught in engineering courses and how particular concepts are explained and how student experiences shape understanding and interest.« less
  5. Despite increased calls for the need for more diverse engineers and significant efforts to “move the needle,” the composition of students, especially women, earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering has not significantly changed over the past three decades. Prior research by Klotz and colleagues (2014) showed that sustainability as a topic in engineering education is a potentially positive way to increase women’s interest in STEM at the transition from high school to college. Additionally, sustainability has increasingly become a more prevalent topic in engineering as the need for global solutions that address the environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainability have become more pressing. However, few studies have examined students’ sustainability related career for upper-level engineering students. This time point is a critical one as students are transitioning from college to industry or other careers where they may be positioned to solve some of these pressing problems. In this work, we answer the question, “What differences exist between men and women’s attitudes about sustainability in upper-level engineering courses?” in order to better understand how sustainability topics may promote women’s interest in and desire to address these needs in their future careers. We used pilot data from the CLIMATE survey given tomore »228 junior and senior civil, environmental, and mechanical engineering students at a large East Coast research institution. This survey included questions about students’ career goals, college experiences, beliefs about engineering, and demographic information. The students surveyed included 62 third-year students, 96 fourth-year students, 29 fifth-year students, and one sixth-year student. In order to compare our results of upper-level students’ attitudes about sustainability, we asked the same questions as the previous study focused on first-year engineering students, “Which of these topics, if any, do you hope to directly address in your career?” The list of topics included energy (supply or demand), climate change, environmental degradation, water supply, terrorism and war, opportunities for future generations, food availability, disease, poverty and distribution of resources, and opportunities for women and/or minorities. As the answer to this question was binary, either “Yes,” or “No,” Pearson’s Chi-squared test with Yates’ continuity correction was performed on each topic for this question, comparing men and women’s answers. We found that women are significantly more likely to want to address water supply, food availability, and opportunities for woman and/or minorities in their careers than their male peers. Conversely, men were significantly more likely to want to address energy and terrorism and war in their careers than their female peers. Our results begin to help us understand the particular differences that men and women, even far along in their undergraduate engineering careers, may have in their desire to address certain sustainability outcomes in their careers. This work begins to let us understand certain topics and pathways that may support women in engineering as well as provides comparisons to prior work on early career undergraduate students. Our future work will include looking at particular student experiences in and out of the classroom to understand how these sustainability outcome expectations develop.« less
  6. The overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that anthropogenic climate change will irreversibly affect future generations. Engineering professionals who design and construct our built environment can protect society against the effects of global warming through implementation of building strategies that reduce climate changing emissions. There is little research to assess if students who intend to pursue careers in the design and construction of our built environment hope to address such important environmental and societal challenges. To advance understanding, a survey instrument was developed and validated to measure undergraduate engineering students’ climate change literacy, career motivations, and agency to address climate change in their career. Preliminary results compare responses of engineering students intending to pursue a career in civil and construction industries to those of engineering students intending to pursue other engineering careers. The results indicate that civil and construction engineering students are more likely to take sustainability courses and learn about climate change in the classroom, but they do not excel above other engineers in their knowledge of climate science. The educational gap in engineering sustainability courses must be closed to ensure those who will design and construct our built environment are properly equipped to succeed in the sustainability-relatedmore »careers they desire.« less
  7. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals state climate change could irreversibly affect future generations and is one of the most urgent issues facing society. To date, most education research on climate change examines middle and high school students’ knowledge without considering the link between understanding and interest to address such issues in their career. In research on students’ attitudes about sustainability, we found that half of first-year college engineering students, in our nationally representative sample of all college students at 4-year institutions (n = 937), do not believe climate change is caused by humans. This lack of belief in human-caused climate change is a significant problem in engineering education because our results also indicate engineering students who do not believe in human caused climate change are less likely to want to address climate change in their careers. This dismal finding highlights a need for improving student understanding and attitudes toward climate change in order to produce engineers prepared and interested in solving complex global problems in sustainability. To advance understanding about students’ understanding of climate change and their agency to address the issue, we developed the CLIMATE survey to measure senior undergraduate engineering students’ Climate change literacy, engineering identity, careermore »motivations, and agency through engineering. The survey was designed for students in their final senior design, or capstone course, just prior to entering the workforce. We developed the survey using prior national surveys and newly written questions categorized into six sections: (1) career goals and motivation, (2) college experiences, (3) agency, (4) climate literacy, (5) people and the planet, and (6) demographic information. We conducted focus groups with students to establish face and content validity of the survey. We collected pilot data with 200 engineering students in upper-level engineering courses to provide validity evidence for the use of these survey items to measure students and track changes across the undergraduate curriculum for our future work. In this paper, we narrate the development of the survey supported by literature and outline the next step for further validation and distribution on a national scale. Our intent is to receive feedback and input about the questions being asked and the CLIMATE instrument. Our objective is to share the nationally representative non-identifiable responses (the estimated goal is 4,000 responses) openly with education researchers interested in students understanding about climate change, their engineering identity, career motivations, and agency through engineering. Ultimately, we want this research to become a catalyst for teaching about topics related to climate change in engineering and its implications for sustainability.« less