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ENGE Annual Report

2021 Annual Report

The ENGE Annual Report is a calendar year overview of department awards, honors, recognition, achievements and highlights. See all that we've been up to this past year!

Frith First Year Maker program - up close shot on the laser cutter

We offer a world-class education through exceptional advising, pedagogy, scholarship, and operational practices that empower informed career decisions and serve as a meaningful touch point for undergraduate and graduate engineering students at Virginia Tech. 

We are a community of forward-thinking professionals who develop and disseminate knowledge, fostering cohesion between innovative research and practice. 

We are a globally-recognized leader in preparing emerging engineers, educators, and scholars who work across technical, cultural and social boundaries to address contemporary challenges and serve the broader community.

We influence practice, advance knowledge, and shape careers in an environment that nurtures learning and growth within the field of engineering education.

From the Department Head

When we pivoted to emergency online teaching in Spring 2020 we had no idea that a year later we would still be deep in a global pandemic.

For the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, 2021 took unusual quantities of fortitude, even though we had some relief with the rollouts of the vaccine and the university’s move to mandate them for students and later for employees. This allowed us to start Fall 2021 with masked in-person teaching and the slower than anticipated long journey towards a new normal, which by 2022 is still by no means a clear goal post. We continue to navigate the differential impact of the pandemic on everyone in our community, and find ways to support each other and find joy in the work that we do together.

In the midst of all that complexity, we welcomed many new people to our team in 2021! We had eight new Ph.D. students join our program in the Fall. We expanded our Academic and Career Advising team to bring in two more people. We welcomed two Collegiate Assistant Professors and two Visiting Assistant Professors. We recruited top people into the new positions of a Director of Communications and External Relations, Assistant Lab Manager, International Programs Administrator, and HR and Operations Manager. We brought new people into the existing roles of IT Systems and Support Manager and Grants Support Specialist. This is not bad for a year that started with a pandemic hiring freeze! During 2021 we also got the news that the College of Engineering was offering us five new faculty positions, with a sixth secured through a dual career hire.

Jenni Case

Key for growing capacity in our community are the rotating leadership positions that our faculty take on. This Fall was the time to bring in new blood into two Assistant Department Head roles (one an entirely new position), the Director of the Frith First-Year Makerspace, and the General Engineering Advising Coordinator role. This Executive team has been working with much energy and creativity in leading their portfolios and building the cross-links that are essential to our work. Our undergraduate program undertook strategic growth into both service learning and an interdisciplinary capstone. Our graduate program consolidated a new curriculum and underwent an external review. Our advising team launched new initiatives to respond to the needs of the incoming first year class. Our Equity & Inclusion Committee took us through focused training to further build skills in areas where we knew we needed them. Our researchers worked to strategically think about how we position ourselves for new funding opportunities.

I hope you enjoy the read! I’m delighted to see this report highlighting our new doctoral awards, named for Dr. Bevlee Watford, a tenured professor in our Department and a trailblazer of note. You will also see a lively article on what’s going on in the Frith First-Year Makerspace, a research conversation with one of our Associate Professors, an outline of research impacting directly on our local community, and a profile of a graduate student recognized with a prestigious NSF Fellowship. We are proud to also present a documentation of achievements in our Department in 2021. Thank you for your interest and support in our work.

Warm regards,
Jenni Case

“Developing a Program From Early Academic Career Research Opportunities in Engineering Using Minecraft”
$9,607 | Dr. Ben Chambers

Collaborative 4-VA: “Exploring Students Perceptions of Engineering Using Arts-Informed Methods: A Multi-Case Study” 
Dr. Homero Murzi, Dr. Diana Franco Duran from UVA and Dr. Jason Forsyth from JMU

Course Re-design: “Using Technology and Digital Pedagogy in Course Redesign: Transforming a Contemporary Pedagogy Course to Expand its Reach to Graduate Students” | Dr. Homero Murzi, with Dr. Natasha Watts, Virginia Tech

Culturally Relevant Assessment in Engineering: A Pilot Study | Dr. Homero Murzi, with Dr. David Kniola in the School of Education, Virginia Tech

From early career faculty transitions to logic models to equity and inclusion in the engineering classroom, our faculty have published a wide variety of journal articles this year.

Presidential Principles of Community Award
Teirra Holloman, Dr. David Knight, Dr. Walter Lee, Dr. Jeremi London & Adam Masters

Dr. Bevelee Artis Watford Awards
Drs. Kirsten Davis & Cynthia Hampton

ENGE Graduate Students who Passed the Preliminary Exam
Alaa Abdalla, Hannah Glisson, Tina Griesinger, Teirra Holloman, Taylor Lightner, Crystal Pee, Malle Schilling & Umair Shakir

Best Journal Paper Award
"Exploring student disability and professional identity: navigating sociocultural expectations in U.S. undergraduate civil engineering programs"
Cassandra McCall, Ashley Shew, Denise R. Simmons, Marie C. Paretti & Lisa D. McNair

Diana Bairaktarova
Dr. Diana Bairaktarova | Promoted to Associate Professor with tenure
Walter Lee 1932
Dr. Walter Lee | Outstanding Recent Alumnus
Jeremi London
Dr. Jeremi London | Outstanding New Assistant Professor & NSF CAREER Grant
Homero Murzi
Dr. Homero Murzi | Nunnally Award for Outstanding Faculty in Engineering Education
Bev Watford
Dr. Bev Watford | Sharon Keillor Award for Women in Engineering Education (ASEE) & Ring sponsor for the class of 2023
Matthew Cheatham
Matt Cheatham | Advisor of the Month
Daniel Newcomb
Daniel Newcomb | 2021 Alumni Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising & NACADA Outstanding Advising Award
Tahsin Chowdhury
Tahsin Chowdury | Best Student Paper Award (International Division), ASEE 2021
Dr. Jessica Deters
Dr. Jessica Deters | Shari B. Malone Outstanding Sorority Advisor of the Year
Taylor Lightner
Taylor Lightner | Bill Anderson Fund Fellowship
Adam Masters
Adam Masters | Graduate Student Service Excellence Award
Malle Schilling
Malle Schilling | NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
ASchuman
Andrea Schuman | Associate for the VT Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence
Dr. Dustin Grote
Dr. Dustin Grote | Barbara K. Townsend Dissertation Award from the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students
Dr. Karis Boyd-Sinkler
Dr. Karis Boyd-Sinkler | Inducted into the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society
Kelly Cross
Kelly Cross, Engineering Education, Graduate Assistant
Jean
Dr. Jean Mohammadi-Aragh | NSF CAREER Grant
Dr. Courtney Smith-Orr
Dr. Courtney Smith-Orr | Wiley Global 2021 STEM Hall of Fame

2021 was an exciting year for our department! Whether team members transitioned to new roles at Virginia Tech, outside the institution, or just joined Engineering Education, we've had tremendous growth. Read about our 2021 transitions and new arrivals, or see how department looks right now in the directory.