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Combined Contribution of 12 REU Students to the Development of the LEWAS Lab

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

That's a Great Idea! Learning-focused Methods to Revitalize Your Courses

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/p.26512

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/26512

Download Count

151

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Paper Authors

biography

Debarati Basu Virginia Tech

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Ms. Basu, is a PhD student in Engineering Education, advised by Dr. Lohani in the LEWAS Lab. She holds BS and MS in Computer Science and Engineering. For her dissertation, she is interested in analyzing user tracking data to examine students’ learning of environmental monitoring concepts facilitated by a cyberlearning system. As a graduate teaching assistant, she has experience in teaching engineering problem solving and design process to freshman students in a project based environment at VT. She has experience in organizing and administering NSF/REU site for Interdisciplinary Water Sciences and Engineering. She has taken initiative in modifying the assessment instrument for this REU site and is gathering experience in the field of assessment and evaluation. She has experience in developing LEWAS-based modules and working with first-year curriculum. She also mentors undergraduates from CS, engaged in the expansion of LEWAS.

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Walter McDonald Virginia Tech

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Walter McDonald is a Ph.D. Candidate, jointly advised by Drs. Dymond and Lohani, in the CEE program at Virginia Tech with a focus in water-resources engineering. He received a B.S. in civil engineering from Texas Tech University and a M.S. in civil engineering from Texas A&M University. He has had extensive training in hydrology and currently works in the LEWAS lab, where he conducts urban hydrology research. He has developed and implemented curricula for introducing the LEWAS into multiple courses at Virginia Western Community College and Virginia Tech. He also has international collaboration experience in first-year course development, engineering education research, and real-time watershed monitoring.

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Daniel S Brogan Virginia Tech

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Daniel S. Brogan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Working under Dr. Vinod K. Lohani, he has had a leading role in the development and implementation work of the Learning Enhanced Watershed Assessment System (LEWAS) Lab for more than three years. His dissertation research involves the development and classroom integration of the Online Watershed Learning System (OWLS), a guided, open-ended learning environment that is driven by HTML5 (http://www.lewas.centers.vt.edu/dataviewer/) and serves as a user interface to the LEWAS Lab. Prior to his time at Virginia Tech, he has a background in remote sensing, data analysis and signal processing from his time at the University of New Hampshire, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering.

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Darren K Maczka Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5966-5670

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Darren Maczka is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. His background is in control systems engineering and information systems design and he received his B.S. in Computer Systems Engineering from The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has several years of experience teaching and developing curricula in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech.

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Vinod K Lohani Virginia Tech

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Dr. Vinod K. Lohani is a Professor of Engineering Education and an adjunct faculty member in Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. He is director of an interdisciplinary lab called Learning Enhanced Watershed Assessment System (LEWAS) at VT. He received a Ph.D. in civil engineering from VT. His research interests are in the areas of computer-supported research and learning systems, hydrology, engineering education, and international collaboration. He has led several interdisciplinary research and curriculum reform projects, funded by the National Science Foundation, and has participated in research and curriculum development projects with $4.5 million funding from external sources. He has been directing/co-directing an NSF/Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site on interdisciplinary water sciences and engineering at VT since 2007. This site has 66 alumni to date. Dr. Lohani collaborated with his colleagues to implement a study abroad project (2007-12), funded under the US-Brazil Higher Education Program of the U.S. Department of Education, at VT. He has published over 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences.

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Abstract

The Learning Enhanced Watershed Assessment System (LEWAS) lab is a high-frequency, real-time environmental monitoring lab located on the campus of Virginia Tech. This lab has developed over the course of 9 years from a prototype system used in one class to a real-time environmental monitoring system that has been in used in 21 courses across 6 institutions and in 3 countries. Throughout its development, this lab has also hosted an NSF/REU site at Virginia Tech for 8 years. Every year for 10 weeks during the summer 8-11 students, coming from several universities and having various disciplinary backgrounds, join the site. Among them, 1-2 engage in interdisciplinary research work in the LEWAS lab, while others join different research labs across the Virginia Tech campus. As of 2015, 12 REU fellows have been mentored by the faculty advisors and the graduate students (including four authors of this paper) of this lab. In this paper, we will discuss the work of these 12 REU fellows and how their combined contribution aided the development of the present LEWAS lab. In 2007, the first REU student to join the lab developed a simple prototype for a wireless data collection system, aiming to design an on-campus watershed sciences and engineering laboratory. This prototype iteratively evolved with the help of other REU students to the present LEWAS, which has the following four stages: 1) data inputs that consist of environmental instruments including an acoustic Doppler current profiler, a water quality sonde and a weather station each taking measurements every 1-3 min., 2) data processing occurring locally on a Raspberry Pi, 3) data storage on a remote server and 4) data visualization through an Online Watershed Learning System (OWLS) (www.lewas.centers.vt.edu/dataviewer) through which end users access the LEWAS data for research and education. Each REU fellow significantly contributed to the development/maintenance/application of two or more of these stages. The implementation of all four stages was a complex process that required interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, which were obtained not only through graduate mentors representing different disciplines (engineering education, civil & environmental engineering, electrical & computer engineering, computer science and environmental science) but also REU students who were pursuing a range of undergraduate degrees (civil & environmental engineering, computer science, computer engineering, chemical engineering and environmental science). Through research experiences in an interdisciplinary lab, REU fellows were exposed to a wide spectrum of learning and research work, beyond their disciplinary domain. The authors, in turn gained experience mentoring the REU fellows in their research work. The knowledge shared in this paper demonstrates how an interdisciplinary engineering system/lab can be iteratively built as a result of undergraduate research work under graduate mentorship. This study also shows how an REU program can support the development of an engineering lab as well as the research of several masters and PhD students.

Basu, D., & McDonald, W., & Brogan, D. S., & Maczka, D. K., & Lohani, V. K. (2016, June), Combined Contribution of 12 REU Students to the Development of the LEWAS Lab Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26512

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