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Enhancing Students' Learning Experiences through Translational Research in Engineering Education

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Effects on Student Learning

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jennifer Harper Ogle Clemson University

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Dr. Jennifer Ogle is currently an Associate Professor in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University. She specializes in transportation infrastructure design, safety, and management, and has been the faculty advisor for the Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC) program since 2011. During this time, the CEDC program has tripled in growth and has been recognized by the Institute for International Education (IIE) with the Andrew Heiskell Award as a model program, and was also recognized by the State of South Carolina for the Service Learning Award in 2011. Dr. Ogle was also recognized in 2012 by President Obama as a Champion of Change for Women in STEM, and participates in a number of diversity-enhancement programs at the university including serving as the Chair of the Women's Commission and as a member of the ADA Task Force.

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Jeffery M Plumblee II Clemson University

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Jeff Plumblee, PhD, MBA is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in online service-learning at Clemson University. Plumblee founded the award winning Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries (CEDC) in 2009 while pursuing a doctorate in civil engineering. He has helped to grow the organization to 100+ students per semester, including 2-5 interns living in Haiti year-round. The program has overseen in excess of $2 million in sustainable infrastructure and economic development projects in Haiti. He is currently exploring ways to offer similar opportunities to a wider audience, including bringing the CEDC model into a domestic context, leveraging technology to virtually link students with service-learning opportunities and resources throughout the world, and starting a design challenge for high school students to address the needs of the less fortunate.

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David E Vaughn Clemson University

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David is a Professor of Practice within Clemson University’s Glenn Department of Civil Engineering, the Founder and Owner of Integrated Resilience, LLC, he is a former Fluor Fellow, Director of Resilience Solutions, and Secretariat of the World Economic Forum – Disaster Resource Partnership (WEF DRP). He founded and spearheaded development of Fluor’s Business Continuity and Disaster Management Services which helped Clients build resilience by mitigating risk to natural disasters.
He has more than 25 years of project management experience in diverse industries, including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, oil and gas, steel mills, microelectronics, water treatment, and contingency operations. His experience in rapid deployment, planning, disaster management, and reconstruction is a culmination of his work in support of the U.S. Army Sustainment Command, FEMA, and various private sector companies.
David’s passion for his profession is demonstrated by his personal commitment to a number of humanitarian projects, including:
 Serving as a vice co-chair for The Infrastructure Security Partnership to implement strategies that help economically challenged build resilience.
 Volunteering as the Project Manager as part of the Haiti Relief effort for the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina (EDUSC).
 Mentoring Clemson Engineers for Developing Countries students who are assisting the economically challenged people of Haiti. Under his guidance, this team received awards in 2014 from the Institute of International Education and in 2010 from the university and the State of South Carolina for their work.
 In honor of his support for engineering students who are changing the world, David was awarded the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Excellence in Service Award and the 2014 Distinguished Service Award from Clemson University.

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Aaron S. Gordon Clemson University

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To tackle the societal grand challenges of the 21st century, this article proposes that the concept of translational research has valuable applications within a broad engineering context to better prepare the professionals of the future. Translational research is commonly found in the medical field and closely related disciplines, but there is limited literature pertaining to its use in engineering education despite its suitability for the latter. The proposed translational research and education model has been leveraged in an undergraduate research course with focus on research, design, and implementation of sustainable solutions in developing countries through multidisciplinary service-learning projects. Translational research connects theoretical research with practical implementation, bridging the ‘valley of death’ between academia and real-world application.

This paper details how translational research can be applied in an engineering education setting, provides a framework for its use, and discusses the benefits to students, faculty, and society. The paper provides highlights of an application of the translational research model at Clemson University in which students in multidisciplinary teams research novel and adapted solutions to societal problems, work through multiple funding sources, and collaborate with community stakeholders to implement infrastructure solutions. The facets of translational research will be defined, as well as differentiated from problem-based learning and service-learning. Initial data supporting the educational outcomes gained from this learning style will be discussed. Overall, the case is made for the expansion of translational research from academic medicine into engineering education, while retaining the core concept of bringing ‘theoretical knowledge and experimental breakthrough to practice.’

Ogle, J. H., & Plumblee, J. M., & Vaughn, D. E., & Gordon, A. S. (2016, June), Enhancing Students' Learning Experiences through Translational Research in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26714

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