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Board 126: A New Approach to Collaboration: A Partnership between an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center and a Liberal Arts College

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Mary Roth Lafayette College

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Mary Roth is the Simon Cameron Long Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. She received her degrees in civil engineering from Lafayette College (B.S.), Cornell University (M.S.), and the University of Maine (Ph.D.). She joined the faculty at Lafayette in 1991. Her teaching interests include geotechnical and foundation engineering, introduction to engineering courses, and courses designed to engage students from the arts, humanities, and social science with engineering topics. Her research interests include risk assessment for earth retaining structures, site investigation methods in karst areas, the use of bacteria to modify the engineering properties of soils, and engineering pedagogy. She has authored or co-authored over 70 publications and has served as principal or co-principal on nine grants from the National Science Foundation. At Lafayette College Dr. Roth has served as Associate Provost for Academic Operations, Director of Engineering, and Department Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering in addition to multiple faculty committee assignments. She has led campus-wide accreditation and assessment initiatives, implemented new faculty orientation programs, directed the development of multiple proposals to private foundations, and coordinated interdisciplinary academic programs. She has received a number of awards in recognition of her scholarship and teaching including a Fulbright research scholarship in Norway, an American Council of Education Fellowship, and multiple teaching awards. Dr. Roth is a member of ASCE, ASEE, and GBA. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi and is a licensed engineer in the states of Maine and Pennsylvania.

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Laurie F. Caslake Lafayette College

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In August 2016, the authors, faculty members at Lafayette College, were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant (Grant No. CMMI-1632963) based on an unsolicited proposal to the NSF's CMMI Division. Like many faculty at strictly undergraduate institutions, we routinely provide opportunities for students to work on research projects and fund this research in some situations through external grants. An innovation in this particular grant was the creation of a research collaboration between faculty and students at Lafayette and an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC). As stated on the NSF website, "The goal of the ERC Program is to integrate engineering research and education with technological innovation to transform national prosperity, health, and security." To accomplish this goal, collaborations between ERCs and other institutions are inherent in the work of an ERC; however, research collaborations between ERCs and small liberal arts colleges are rare and we know of no other collaboration of this type.

In our most recent research project, we have developed and implemented a model that successfully provides our students and ourselves with opportunities to collaborate on an interdisciplinary research project with faculty, researchers, and graduate students at the NSF-funded Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics (CBBG). This paper provides a brief overview of the goals of the research project and describes our motivation for establishing the collaboration, the structure of the collaboration, the anticipated broader impacts associated with the work, and the results from the first 18 months of the partnership. A logic model is included to illustrate the connections between the resources, strategies, outcomes, and long-term impacts associated with the collaboration.

The goal of this paper is to describe the collaboration between Lafayette College and the ERC from the point of view of the faculty members at Lafayette, to describe the positive outcomes that have resulted from this collaboration, and to encourage faculty members at other small colleges to consider developing similar collaborations.

Roth, M., & Caslake, L. F. (2018, June), Board 126: A New Approach to Collaboration: A Partnership between an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center and a Liberal Arts College Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29909

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