Engineering Education at Virginia Tech
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Congratulations to Michelle Soledad, Phd Candidate!


Michelle Soledad successfully defended her preliminary exam titled, "Understanding the Learning Experience in Large Fundamental Engineering Courses".  Michelle is advised by Dr. Jake Grohs. 

The Department of Engineering Education welcomes Dr. Jennifer "Jenni" Case as new department head

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Dr. Jennifer “Jenni” Case, a leader in engineering education research, will be our new department head this falll.  Jenni currently serves as professor in the department of chemical engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT). She will begin her role as department head on August 10, 2017.

Jenni’s research has been recognized by the National Research Foundation of South Africa as a “leading international scholar in the field.” Jenni’s research focus is on improving the quality of student learning in tertiary science and engineering programs. Jenni joined the UCT community in 1996 and was promoted to professor in 2012. Previously, Jenni was employed by Herschel Senior School in Cape Town, South Africa. Jenni has held several leadership positions over the past years including Director of Undergraduate Studies for Chemical Engineering, Director of the Centre for Research in Engineering Education, Head of Curriculum Reform Project for Chemical Engineering, and as Assistant Dean for Academic Development, Faculty of Engineering, and the Built Environment for the university. Jenni has received numerous accolades, among them are: the meritorious book award from UTC in 2015, the National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award in 2013, member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, Distinguished Teacher’s award, and the President’s Award from the National Research Foundation.

PhD Candidate, Debarati Basu recognized as Citizen Scholar

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Debarati Basu was a recipient of the Citizen Scholar Engagement yesterday by the Virginia Tech Graduate School. She has been recognized for her citizen scholar engagement project which includes her teaching and outreach work related to the LEWAS Lab titled: Hands-on Minds-on Environmental Education for Engineering Freshman and Citizens.

Dr. Nicole Pitterson will join the Department of Engineering Education as an assistant professor Fall 2017


Dr. Pitterson is currently working as a postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. She graduated from Purdue University December 2015 with a PhD in Engineering Education and holds other degrees in Manufacturing Engineering from Western Illinois University (M.Sc.) and Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Technology, Jamaica (B.Sc.). In 2015, she was awarded the Purdue University School of Engineering Education Outstanding Student Service Award.

Dr. Pitterson’s research interests include difficult concepts in engineering, increasing students’ conceptual understanding of circuit concepts, and promoting collaboration through using active learning strategies. Dr. Pitterson is dedicated to bridging the gap between theoretical concepts with practical applications. She also aims to guide students to develop critical understanding of core engineering concepts that goes beyond rote memorization so that they can adapt to the changing demands of a global workforce.

Drs. David Knight and Vinod Lohani awarded NSF IRES grant

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The IRES grant will create international research experiences at the University of Queensland in Australia for Virginia Tech Civil & Environmental students and Engineering Education students.

This IRES program will offer water engineering research experiences to civil and environmental engineering students who are making the transition from undergraduate-to-graduate study. Participants will conduct research within one of the leading water engineering units in the world, in some of the finest labs globally, and within extremely complex environments. They will tackle one of three environmental fluid mechanics project areas using field measurements, physical modeling, and numerical methods: 1) Coastal hazard mitigation ecosystem services; 2) Contaminant remediation; and 3) River bed destruction. Each of these areas connect to ongoing research at the University of Queensland sponsored by major government, nonprofit, and industry agencies.

As the strain on water resources and ecosystems intensifies, it is becoming increasingly important to educate engineers to be ready to face complex issues related to water monitoring and management that stretch across national boundaries. The field of water engineering requires a broader educational approach beyond traditional curricula, as today's water engineers face challenging and interdisciplinary issues that combine concepts and methods beyond existing theories and data and instead require a research focus. In addition to the water engineering research component, this IRES program will make important contributions to water engineering education more broadly, as it will produce research focused on how to enhance the education of water engineers and how and why students develop in these kinds of international research experiences.

David Reeping, EngE Ph.D. student was selected as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow

David's project will look across the United States, at university staff that are tasked with sorting through transfer​ credits from courses carried into institutions by new​ and current​ students, particularly​ those admitted from community colleges.​ ​ From the students' perspective, the intent may be to get ahead or to retake a class, but not all ​​transfer credit is created​ equally. T​he proposal is split two ​ways​ to see the different dimensions of course articulation, both the process and its aftermath. On one ​side​, the project seeks​ to​ understand the decision making process of articulating courses​​ at different institutions. The second ​side​ looks at transfer credit in action​​; student course taking patterns across multiple disciplines of engineering will be studied through the lens of microeconomics and finance to examine the long term effects of​ student choice​ and​ curricular policies​.

David is advised by Dr. David Knight.

Dr. Diana Bairaktarova was published in the Journal of Mechanical Design


Dr. Diana Bairaktarova with her co-authors Drs. Graziano and Cox, have recently published Enhancing Engineering Students' Performance on Design Task: The Box of Parts.

Abstract:  Most definitions of engineering give machines and mechanical objects a central role. Engineers are makers and users of mechanical objects in their environment. Research supports the notion that interactions with engineered artifacts enhance engineering learning. This study introduces a task simulating a real-world engineering application and uses this task to examine how aptitudes, interests and direct manipulation of mechanical objects influence performance. We hypothesized that engineering students would generate better assembly instructions when they had the box of component parts (BOP) than when they had the engineering drawing only. We also hypothesized that student's mechanical aptitude and interests in things each would interact with experimental condition's impact on performance. First year engineering students (N= 383) created assembly instructions in a mixed experimental and correlational design. A random half was assigned to create instructions with a drawing only, whereas the other half created with both a drawing and a box of component parts present. Assembly instructions were evaluated by professional engineers blind to experimental conditions. They rated instructions from the BOP group as superior to those coming from the control group. Students with greater mechanical aptitude received better evaluations, but there was no evidence the experimental variable was moderated either by mechanical aptitude or by thing orientation. This study suggests that mechanical objects can enhance engineering instruction, especially when they are aligned with professional practice.

Dr. Cheryl Carrico elected to a two-year term for ASEE


Dr. Cheryl Carrico was elected to a two-year term as Member-at-Large for the American Society of Engineering Education Precollege division. More information about the precollege division may be found at Dr. Carrico is a research scientist in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.

Indhira Hasbun and her co-authors to receive the William Elgin Wickenden Award


EngE PhD student, Indhira Hasbun and her co-authors who have been selected to receive the William Elgin Wickenden Award of the American Society for Engineering Education for their article “Latina/o Adolescents’ Funds of Knowledge Related to Engineering.” The article appeared in the April 2016 issue of the Journal of Engineering Education.

Drs. Holly Matusovich and Walter Lee for receiving Honorable Mention for the William Elgin Wickenden Award

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Congratulations to Drs. Holly Matusovich and Walter Lee for receiving Honorable Mention for the William Elgin Wickenden Award of the American Society for Engineering Education, on their article "A Model of Co-Curricular Support for Undergraduate Engineering Students," that was in the July 2016 issue of the Journal of Engineering Education.
Engineering Education at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech
Engineering Education (MC 0218)
345 Goodwin Hall
635 Prices Fork Rd
Blacksburg, Va 24061
(540) 231-6555
Fax (540) 231-6903