Our Engineering Education graduate students play a key role in research, teaching, and supporting the department. And thanks to a generous, anonymous endowment in 2021, we're able to annually recognize two students with the Dr. Bevlee A. Watford Outstanding Doctoral Student and Outstanding Dissertation Awards. 

This year's recipients are Kai Jun (KJ) Chew and Janice Hall, for the Outstanding Doctoral Student and Dissertation Awards respectively.

As our Outstanding Doctoral student, Chew served as excelled as both Graduate Research Assistant and Graduate Teaching Assistant, VP of student chapter of ASEE, Sec/Trea of National ASEE Student Division, Senator in the Graduate & Professional Student Senate, served as the graduate student representative to the University Graduate Curriculum Committee.

"I am excited to start my new journey as an Assistant Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University," he said.

"I look forward to applying lessons learned from my Ph.D. to be an instructor who cares for his student learning and well being, and a researcher who is passionate about translating  research to inform practice in engineering education."

Hall's dissertation is: "Disaggregating the Monolith: A Case Study on Varied Engineering Career Orientations and Strategies of Black Women in Tech" and her advisor, Walter Lee shared about her work:

“In addition to focusing on an understudied topic, she also leveraged research methodologies that are not commonly used in the field of engineering education, so much so that she had to rely on self-education to develop expertise in this area," Lee said.

"Using existing data and social media artifacts in a qualitative study while also going the extra mile to ensure each participant is comfortable with their data being used this way is quite original and an exemplar example of innovative and ethical research.” 

Currently, Hall is pursuing a fellowship project at Florida International University, which extends her dissertation work on engineering career mobility into understanding the workforce development needs for alternative career pathways in engineering. She's also co-leading a summer undergraduate research experience to study how engineers from minority serving institutions (MSIs) plan to transition into the engineering workforce.

"To have others recognize and celebrate my work in such a way was a perfect ending to my graduate school journey," Hall said.

"It gave me perspective on my research's impact if put into practice. I am eager to continue exploring the space of engineering careers and helping to broaden participation in engineering through workforce development support that aligns with various career pathways."


Read about the very first Watford Award winners and the endowment that started it all!