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Examining Faculty and Graduate Student Attitudes on Stress and Mental Health

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


David Feil-Seifer

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David Feil-Seifer is an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. His primary research interests are Socially Assistive Robotics (SAR) and User Interface design for Unmanned Autonomous Systems (UAS-UI). His research is motivated by the potential for SAR to address health-care crises that stem from a lack of qualified care professionals for an ever-growing population in need of personalized care as well as the uses for aerial robots for disaster mitigation.

Prior to his tenure at UNR, he was a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University at the Social Robotics Lab under the direction of Prof. Brian Scassellati. He was awarded a National Science Foundation/Computing Research Association Computing Innovation Fellowship to support his postdoctoral work. He received a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Rochester and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Viterbi School of Engineering (VSoE) at the University of Southern California (USC) under the direction of Prof. Maja Matarić. He helped coin the term, Socially Assistive Robotics (SAR), and studied its applications for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). He has been awarded the Mellon award for Mentoring, the Order of Arete, and the USC VSoE Best Dissertation award.

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Mackenzie Parker University of Nevada, Reno

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Mackenzie is a doctoral student at the University of Nevada, Reno in the Department of Engineering Education. She received a Master of Science degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the same institution in 2018. Her research explores facets of engineering graduate student experiences relating to professional identity, motivation, work-related stress, and mental health.

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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno

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Mental health is a key attribute for success in graduate programs. However, previous studies demonstrate a growing mental health crisis in graduate education, which can contribute to issues with productivity, departure, and well-being. Engineering students are not immune to this crisis, yet are one of the least likely disciplines to seek help for mental health.

Despite this trend, there is limited literature available to provide evidence-based practices for addressing the causes and persistence of mental health issues for engineering graduate students. To address this need and to begin advocating for systemic change, this project will explore how faculty and student attitudes about mental health intersect with the institutional features that direct action when a mental health crisis arises. Specifically, this project focuses on generating new knowledge about the ways faculty and students conceptualize mental health within engineering graduate programs.

Understanding these facets of mental health in academia is a first step toward changing policies and practices that have perpetuated the mental health crisis in engineering. This long-term outcome of this EEC project will develop evidence-based practices to improve student mental health services in graduate engineering programs.

Feil-Seifer, D., & Parker, M., & Kirn, A. (2022, August), Examining Faculty and Graduate Student Attitudes on Stress and Mental Health Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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