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Creating an Inclusive Ecosystem through Professional Development

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

College-Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session II: Curriculum

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Edward Pines New Mexico State University

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Edward Pines is Department Head and Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering at New Mexico State University. He is a co-team leader of NMSU's Pathways to Innovation team and is serves on the Faculty Advisory Board for NMSU Engineering's Aggie Innovation Space.

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Patricia A. Sullivan New Mexico State University

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Patricia A. Sullivan serves as Associate Dean for Outreach and Public Service and is Director of the Engineering New Mexico Resource Network in the College of Engineering at New Mexico State University. She received her PhD in industrial engineering and has over 31 years’ experience directing statewide engineering outreach services that include technical engineering business assistance, professional development, and educational outreach programs. She is co-PI for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to broaden participation among minority engineering students through engagement in innovation and entrepreneurship and a co-PI for an i6 Challenge grant through the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to foster regional economic development through innovation and new business start-ups. She is institutional integrator for the Partnership for the Advancement of Engineering Education (PACE) at NMSU. She is also co-lead for a NSF funded Pathways to Innovation cohort at NMSU with a focus on integrating innovation and entrepreneurship into the engineering curriculum through a blending of industry and educational experiences. Patricia serves as a commissioner for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), is a member of the executive committee for the NM Consortia for Energy Workforce Development, a past member of the board of directors for BEST Robotics Inc., and a member of the board of directors for Enchantment Land Certified Development Company (ELCDC – a program that certifies SBA 504 loans that foster economic development.) She has extensive experience in pubic-private partnerships particularly efforts that enhance employment opportunities for engineering students.

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Creating An Inclusive Ecosystem Through Professional Development

An inclusive ecosystem within engineering education has been developed, having evolved around a series of stratified professional development courses spanning working professionals, university faculty, and university students. This ecosystem has allowed us to engage industry partners in the academic enterprise, fostered an environment for faculty renewal, and consequently created a venue for engagement of an ethnically diverse student populace from disparate economic backgrounds.

It is widely accepted that professional development education conforms to a different teaching model then that of traditional higher education. Engineering faculty, used to traditional norms of “publish or perish,” often view the value proposition of teaching professional development-type courses to industry professionals as being in conflict with promotion and tenure. Yet, the connections to industry provided through professional development education cannot be easily put aside. Specifically, the applied focus of professional development education affords engineering faculty a unique opportunity to transcend traditional theory-based teaching, bringing relevancy and application directly into the classroom.

Professional development courses for undergraduates, taught by both engineering faculty and industry professionals are also emerging. Offered as non-credit pop-up sessions, these workshops are providing undergraduate students with skills to readily traverse multi-disciplinary projects through venues that bridge engineering concepts and theory with application. Three years into development of our ecosystem, we continue to engage stakeholders at the campus level and across the broader industry-based community to expand our professional development offerings at various levels. Industry partners have proven to be key contributors in growing the ecosystem, bringing financial support, project expertise, and, coupled with faculty buy-in, legitimacy to our efforts. In this paper, we offer lessons learned, accomplishments, and some insight into our assessments of outcomes.

Pines, E., & Sullivan, P. A. (2016, June), Creating an Inclusive Ecosystem through Professional Development Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26599

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