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  1. A critical learning outcome of undergraduate engineering mechanics courses is the ability to understand how a structure's internal forces and bending moment will change in response to static and dynamic loads. One of the major challenges associated with both teaching and learning these concepts is the invisible nature of the internal effects. Although concentrated forces applied to the top of the beam can be easily visualized, observing the corresponding changes in the shear and bending moment diagrams is not a trivial task. Nonetheless, proficiency in this concept is vital for students to succeed in subsequent mechanics courses and, ultimately, as a professional practitioner. One promising technology that can enable students to see the invisible internal effects is augmented reality (AR), where virtual or digital objects can be seen through a device such as a smart phone or headset. This paper describes the proof-of-concept development of a Unity┬«-based AR application called "AR Stairs" that allows students to visualize (in-situ) the relative magnitude of the internal bending moment in an actual structure. The app is specifically tailored to an existing 40-foot long, 16-foot high steel staircase structure located at the authors' institution. This paper details the application design, analysis assumptions, calculations, technical challenges encountered, development environment, and content development. The key features of the app are discussed, which include: (a) coordinate system identification and placement, (b) automatic mapping of a stairs model in-situ, (c) creation of a virtual 2-dimensional staircase model, (d) object detection and tracking of people moving on the stairs, (e) image recognition to approximate people's weight, (f) overlays of virtual force vectors onto moving people, and (g) use of a chromatic scale to visually convey the relative intensity of the internal bending moment at nodes spaced over the length of the structure. It is the authors' intention to also provide the reader with an overall picture of the resources needed to develop AR applications for use in pedagogical settings, the design decision tradeoffs, and practical issues related to deployment. As AR technologies continually improve, they are expected to become an integral part of the pedagogical toolset used by engineering educators to improve the quality of education delivered to engineering students. 
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  2. Many engineering faculty have been involved in some form of engineering education research (EER) during their professional career. This may range from a relatively superficial participation as a collaborator on a small departmental education initiative to a larger role in a leadership position as a principal investigator on a multi-institutional research grant. Regardless of the level of involvement, each engineering educator must evolve and invest substantial time to acquire a level of EER knowledge that is commensurate with their desired degree of participation. For those educators who are motivated to fully immerse themselves into a potentially rewarding EER program with the expectation of perpetuity, their evolution is not without barriers to entry and associated risks. The objective of this paper is to share the experiences of three established civil engineering faculty and their mentor who are within two years of receiving their first NSF grants to support EER projects at their home institution. Barriers to entry, challenges, and the lessons learned associated with their growth as emerging engineering education researchers are discussed. Strategies and resources are provided to assist new engineering educators to: lobby for institutional support, secure initial extramural funding, initiate collaborations, formulate short- and long-term career plans, build an Individual Development Plan (IDP), and develop an effective mentor-mentee relationship with an established researcher in the social sciences. It is hoped that this work will provide a holistic summary of their pathway, and to also caution and guide faculty who are contemplating either a partial or complete shift in their research paradigm to EER. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 25, 2024