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Building Engineering Education Research Capacity – Chronicles of a New Center at Montana State University

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Conference

2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference

Location

Boulder, Colorado

Publication Date

March 25, 2018

Start Date

March 25, 2018

End Date

March 27, 2018

Page Count

9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29602

Download Count

28

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Paper Authors

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Brock J. LaMeres Montana State University

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Dr. Brock J. LaMeres is the Director of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center (MEERC) and an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Montana State University. LaMeres teaches and conducts research in the area of computer engineering. LaMeres is currently studying the effectiveness of online delivery of engineering content with emphasis on how the material can be modified to provide a personalized learning experience. LaMeres is also researching strategies to improve student engagement and how they can be used to improve diversity within engineering. LaMeres received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published over 80 manuscripts and 2 textbooks in the area of digital systems and engineering education. LaMeres has also been granted 13 US patents in the area of digital signal propagation. LaMeres is a member of ASEE, a Senior Member of IEEE, and a registered Professional Engineer in the States of Montana and Colorado. Prior to joining the MSU faculty, LaMeres worked as an R&D engineer for Agilent Technologies in Colorado Springs, CO where he designed electronic test equipment.

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Paul Gannon Montana Engineering Education Research Center

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Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering
Associate Director, Montana Engineering Education Research Center

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William J. Schell IV P.E. Montana State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8626-1671

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Dr. William J. Schell holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering – Engineering Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Industrial and Management Engineering from Montana State University (MSU). He is an Assistant Professor in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering at MSU with research interests in engineering education and the role of leadership and culture in process improvement and serves as an Associate Editor for both the Engineering Management Journal and Quality Approaches in Higher Education. He is a registered Professional Engineer and a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Management. Prior to his academic career, he spent 14 years in industry where he held leadership positions focused on process improvement and organizational development.

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Abstract

To meet the grand challenges facing our society, we need more engineers, more diverse engineers, and engineers that think in a global context. Work in the area of engineering education research promises to create knowledge on how to better prepare our graduates by studying five broad areas: (1) engineering epistemologies; (2) engineering learning mechanisms; (3) engineering learning systems; (4) effectively promoting student diversity and inclusion; and (5) assessment techniques. The call for more engineering faculty engaged in EER was first stated by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2004 through a variety of national reports and white papers. One of the themes of these reports was that engineering education needs to apply knowledge from other fields (i.e., education, social psychology, political science, philosophy, & business) in order to prepare our graduates to solve the complex, open-ended, cross-disciplinary problems they will face when entering the workforce. This knowledge can only be brought into engineering by a new type of scholar, the “engineering education researcher”. Without this type of scholar, knowledge will continually be generated outside of engineering on how to effectively educate, motivate, and think globally, but will not effectively penetrate our engineering curriculums. A second theme of these reports was that engineering curriculums should be more malleable in order to quickly adopt findings from engineering education researchers. The onus of changing these curriculums also falls on the engineering education researcher. As such, this new area of scholarship encompasses more than research on education, but also on theories of institutional change and leadership. During this time, the infrastructure began being laid at federal funding agencies to support this type of scholarship, thanks in part to the NAE and universities at the forefront of this field (i.e., Purdue, Virginia Tech, Utah State). Nearly a decade later, the EER field is reaching universities across the nation through the creation of research centers and new programs.

This paper presents efforts to contribute to the field of EER via the creation of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center (MEERC) at Montana State University (MSU). This center was established in 2016 and within its first year increased funded EER expenditures by 400%, tripled the number of faculty engaged in EER, and doubled the number of authors submitting papers to the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference. This paper will detail the steps that were taken, both formally and informally, to rapidly increase EER productivity at MSU. This paper will also discuss the barriers that must be addressed to maintain this level of productivity including how to engage graduate students in EER, how to integrate EER within the contexts of traditional promotion and tenure procedures, and overcoming cultural stigmas about education research. This paper will be of interest to faculty wishing to engage in EER, faculty already engaged in EER that wish to increase productivity at their universities, or faculty have already established a thriving EER program and have advice to share with the MEERC leadership.

LaMeres, B. J., & Gannon, P., & Schell, W. J. (2018, March), Building Engineering Education Research Capacity – Chronicles of a New Center at Montana State University Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference, Boulder, Colorado. https://peer.asee.org/29602

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