Four McCormick Faculty Participate in Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium

Four McCormick professors were among 49 of the nation's brightest young engineering researchers and educators from more than 40 institutions who took part in the National Academy of Engineering's (NAE) first Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) symposium in November.

Engineering faculty members in the first half of their careers who are developing and implementing innovative educational approaches in a variety of disciplines came together for the 2-1/2-day event, where they shared ideas, learned from research and best practice in education, and left with a charter to bring about improvement in their home institution.

Participants from the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science included Elizabeth Gerber, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Todd Murphey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Ann McKenna, research associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Eric Perreault, associate professor of biomedical engineering and physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The faculty said that participating in the symposium gave them both a network of like-minded educators and a framework for the future of engineering education.

"The symposium created a community of scholars interested in improving engineering education nationally," Murphey said. "Participants shared pedagogical insights ranging from individual experience in the classroom to rigorous engineering education research and assessment."

Said Perreault: "The symposium highlighted national issues related to the importance of effective engineering education to the U.S. industrial and research economy, and the challenges associated with delivering that education to our students. We discussed numerous frameworks or developing theoretical knowledge and practical abilities that are consistent with many efforts already in place in McCormick and which will undoubtedly contribute to the continuing development of those efforts."

Gerber said she presented her work with Design for America, a new student group that designs for social change that she helped create.

"I received excellent feedback as well as established a network of other leaders in engineering education on which I have regularly relied since the conference," she said.

The participants were nominated by fellow engineers or deans and chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants.

The program focused on effective ways to ensure that students learn the engineering fundamentals, the expanding knowledge base of new technology, and the skills necessary to be an effective engineer or engineering researcher. "In our increasingly global and competitive world, the United States needs to marshal its resources to address the strategic shortfall of engineering leaders in the next decades," said Edward F. Crawley, Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT, and chairman of the first FOEE. "By holding this event, we have recognized some of the finest young engineering educators in the nation, and will better equip them to transform the educational process at their universities."

The National Academy of Engineering is an independent, nonprofit institution that serves as an adviser to government and the public on issues in engineering and technology. Its members consist of the nation's premier engineers, who are elected by their peers for their distinguished achievements. Established in 1964, NAE operates under the congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.