NCEER Workshop

Helping your students learn via sketching


Kenneth Forbus, Walter P. Murphey Professor, CS

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 
4:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Location: Mudd 2210

Sketching is a valuable way to think and communicate in many STEM disciplines. Sketch Worksheets  are a new kind of sketch-based educational software, developed at Northwestern, designed to  facilitate spatial learning. Each worksheet represents a specific exercise which a student does on a  computer. Students get feedback based on automatic comparison of their sketch with a hidden  solution sketch. A software gradebook, which uses scoring rubrics in the solution sketch, helps  instructors in grading. Sketch Worksheets have already been deployed in geoscience classes at  Northwestern and at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in AI classes here at Northwestern. They  are domain-independent, requiring only that the exercise involves visual distinctions that the  software can understand. Importantly, Sketch Worksheets are authored by instructors and domain  experts, without needing AI researchers in the loop. This makes them scalable and customizable.  (For example, search for “CogSketch” at you will find geoscientist-authored worksheets.) This session will discuss the basic ideas behind sketch worksheets  and we will walk through the construction of a simple worksheet, so you can see how they might be  useful in your own classes.

Some tablet computers will be provided for those who want to follow along, and you can of course  download and install CogSketch on your own Windows machine if you prefer. CogSketch is already  installed in several teaching labs on campus, if you would like to try it out in advance.

Please rsvp to: to help us plan for space needs.


Past NCEER Events

Insight XI

Notes from Insight XI Workshop

3D Printing and Maker Skills as Educational Tools

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
8:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Location: DTC studios: Ford 201-211

The Insight Workshop is a chance for McCormick faculty to engage on a topic of interest in undergraduate engineering education.  This year we will have a session about 3D printing and other Maker Skills. McCormick students all get some practice in building prototypes as freshmen in DTC. 

In this session, we will go beyond that to explore how further skills can be useful for most or all majors.  The goals are to discuss how different learning objectives might be assisted by 3D printed materials, constructed either by students or faculty, and to offer a hands-on component.

We expect that this will be especially relevant for people who know little about these topics now.


Continental Breakfast


9:00 – 9:05am  


Wes Burghardt

9:05 –

Purpose of workshop

Rob Linsenmeier / Jennifer Cole

9:15 –

Panel: 3D Printing in the curriculum – various ways to incorporate it into the learning environment

Moderator: Jennifer Cole

Members: Pam Daniels,

David Gatchell, Matt Glucksberg,

Mike Beltran

10:00 –

Beyond 3D printing – other fabrication resources

Nick Marchuk

10:15 –

Break and discussion


10:30 –

What it takes to do 3D printing – the visualization challenge

Michael Beltran

11:00 –

Hands on Demo: Working with OnShape and Cura

Michael Beltran, UG Student

12:00 –

Tour of Rapid Prototyping Facility

Nick Marchuk, Michael Beltran

12:45 –

Lunch and discussion


Please join us; RSVP to Tara Sadera,
Please direct questions to Rob Linsenmeier,

NCEER Collaboration - Debriefing of ASEE Annual Meeting

Salt Lake City, UT
June 2018

Recap HERE 

Engineering college-wide instructional change through faculty teaching and innovation communities

Laura Hahn
Director, AE3
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Geoffrey Herman
Teaching Assistant Professor, Computer Science 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Tech B221

Refreshments will be served.  Please RSVP to

Abstract: In February 2012, the College of Engineering created the Strategic Instructional Initiatives Program (SIIP) to transform and revitalize the core engineering courses at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As SIIP has evolved, we have learned that in order to achieve these goals, we must first focus on creating collaborative teaching cultures. This effort has sparked the  rapid spread of Research-Based Instructional Strategies across the college and created a thriving community of faculty invested in improving undergraduate instruction. In this paper, we describe the current policies and procedures that we use to direct SIIP. In particular, we will focus on the structure of the leadership team and how we have fostered deep collaborations among faculty developers, education researchers, and engineering faculty. We conclude by presenting data on the impact and structure of SIIP. 

Conference on Pen & Touch Technology in Education
October 12 – October 14, 2017 • Northwestern University • Evanston, IL

Applications of ink-based computing – such as those from current tablet devices – have demonstrated advantages over traditional keyboard/mouse interfaces for promoting student learning and effective educational practice. These applications motivate a new landscape, in which such interfaces will alter the use of technology and enable more effective collaboration and learning experiences.

The Conference on the Impact of Pen and Touch Technology in Education (CPTTE) seeks to bring educators, researchers and technology administrators under one roof for a period of three days to discuss the novel interfaces and applications that are being developed in the space of pen and touch technology, and the successes, the failures and the challenges faced in deploying such technology (software or hardware) in educational environments.

Go to our Webpage
Go to our Submissions page

Insight IX: student teams and teamwork

Insight IX Breakout Session

Friday, March 17, 2017
DTC Studios - Ford G201-211
8:30am - 1:15pm


Continental Breakfast 8:30am

Wesley Burghardt -Welcome
Jennifer Cole -McCormick Survey on Teams
Patricia Sheridan - How students think about teamwork and the impact that has on creating effective teams

Guest Speaker: Patricia Kristine Sheridan
Visiting Assistant Professor in the Center for Leadership at Northwestern
Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Institute for Leadership Education in Engineering (ILead) University of Toronto

Q and A; general discussion
Break; move to workshops

Breakout 1 Workshop (8-10 minute presentations followed by discussion)

Emma DeCosta - DTC
Chris Riesbeck - EECS 394
Mike Beltran - ME Senior Design

Breakout 2 Workshop (8-10 minute presentations followed by discussion) 

Nick Marchuk - DSGN 360/ME 333
Steve Carr - MSE 318
Gloria Kim - BME 271
Jennifer Cole - ChBE Senior Design

Report from workshops

Gail Berger - Myth Busters: Common misperceptions about teams

Final Thoughts

NCEER Seminar

Insights from Early Career Engineers in the Workplace and Implications for Engineering Education

Featured Speakers:

Alexandra Vinson, Postdoctoral Fellow, SESP

Penny Hirsch, Professor of Instruction, Writing Program; WCAS

Segal Design Institute

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
9 am- 10:30 am
ITW Classroom- Ford Building

Alexandra and Penny will share findings from research that they presented at ASEE in June 2016 and facilitate a discussion on the relevance of the research for engineering education. Alex works with the Learning Ethnographies of New Engineers Project led by Reed Stevens at SESP and has been exploring the school-to-work transition of early career engineers at five different sites. Penny presented on findings from a Segal Design study that looked at the impact of Segal’s design certificate program and Design for America on engineering students and recent graduates.

NCEER Seminar

Implementing an instructional grant program for faculty teams: Successes and lessons learned


  Geoffrey Herman

  Visiting Research Professor, AE3                  
  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Monday, December 12, 2016
12:00 - 1:00pm
Tech L440

Refreshments will be served

Please RSVP to

NCEER Member Panel Discussion
What we Learned from the American Society for Engineering Education conference (ASEE)

Date: Thursday, August 25, 2016
Time: 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: BME Conference Room- Tech E11
lunch will be served

Several of the attendees from Northwestern will give brief vignettes about ASEE presentations that they thought would be of general interest to the NCEER Community.
This is the second annual event of this type.

We hope you can join us!

NCEER Seminar: From Flow Visualization to Beauty, Power, Destruction, and Oddness

Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Time: 12 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: Technological Institute (M345)

The seminar, with Jean Hertzberg, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, will describe an interdisciplinary course at CU-Boulder on the production of aesthetically pleasing and scientifically useful images of fluid flows. It brings together mixed teams of engineering and fine arts students.

Flow Vis students have responded enthusiastically, with exit survey comments such as “I’ll never ignore the sky again” or “I see examples of flow vis all the time now.”

After attempts to replicate the Flow Vis pedagogy in the engineering design domain with limited success, an engineering education research (EER) program was undertaken, based on two prongs:

  1. A neuropsychology approach studying whether students can acquire visual expertise in fluid mechanics, akin to the rapid visual processing of radiologists or dog show judges.
  2. A mixed-methods sociocultural approach, including quantitative surveys of affect, qualitative interviews and analyses of student work. Both of these are works in progress, and preliminary results will be presented.

Depending on the audience, the talk may shift into a discussion of aesthetics in fluid mechanics, specifically the aesthetics of beauty (laminar flow), power (aerospace applications), destruction (wildfires) and oddness (nonNewtonian fluid behavior). These aesthetics are proposed as a model for other aesthetics in STEM, with importance in the context of science communication.

Dr. Hertzberg teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in measurement techniques, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, design and computer tools. She has pioneered a spectacular course on the art and physics of flow visualization, and is conducting research on the impact of the course with respect to visual perception and educational outcomes. Her disciplinary research centers around pulsatile, vortex dominated flows with applications in both combustion and bio-fluid dynamics. She is also interested in a variety of flow field measurement techniques. Current projects include electrospray atomization of jet fuel and velocity and vorticity in human cardiac ventricles and large vessels.

NCEER/CIRTL Critical Thinking Workshop

Date: Thursday, May 1, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. 
Location: Ford ITW Classroom

Critical thinking is an essential skill for success in the research lab. Are you thinking critically? What are the elements of critical thinking, and can it be taught? Matthew Grayson (EECS), Joshua Leonard (ChBE), and Denise Drane (Searle Center) led a session on their recent project to enhance critical thinking skills in the classroom and beyond. Faculty, postdocs, and graduate students attended and had the chance to develop a critical thinking assignment. 

Slides from all three presenters describing the project and its findings are available here.

Also available is the critical thinking skills handout (including links to the Critical Thinking Assessment Test website and various scenarios used to develop assignment questions), as well as a list of critical thinking skills.

The seminar/workshop was organized by CIRTL at Northwestern and NCEER.

NCEER Seminar

Date: Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Location: Tech E311 (BME Conference Room)

David Gatchell of Segal and Wei Chen of mechanical engineering gave a talk on product archaeology. According to ABET Student Outcome (h), ABET accredited engineering programs are required to show evidence of their students having learned to use global, societal, environmental and economic factors in their engineering design decisions. The literature tells us, however, that most, if not all, departments and programs struggle with satisfying this outcome, often assigning the responsibility to a single cornerstone, capstone or non-engineering course.

By merging the benefits of product dissection with the steps integral to an archaeological excavation, researchers have formulated a new paradigm titled “Product Archaeology.” As part of a team of collaborators spanning six universities we have created a suite of activities to leverage the benefits of product archaeology across all four years of the undergraduate engineering curriculum.

This talk will introduce the audience to the paradigm of product archaeology including its history, contemporary relevance and pedagogical benefits. Ideas and concepts that overlap with Design for X (e.g., X = environment, manufacturing, assembly, etc.) will be made explicit. We will describe how the product archaeology activities have been implemented both locally and nationally, and where future dissemination will occur. In addition, preliminary data from the efforts within the NU consortium will be presented and discussed.

Slides for the talk are available here.