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Experiential Learning: The Heart of a Successful Education - One Journey Through Graduate School

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.571.1 - 23.571.10



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Paper Authors


Lynn Albers North Carolina State University

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Lynn Albers is a Ph.D. candidate in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at North Carolina State University with a passion for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and K-20 Engineering Education.
Albers has been active in ASEE since 2008 when she presented her first conference paper with Althea Smith in the K-12 and Pre-College Division. Since then, she has authored or co-authored nine ASEE conference papers spanning the K-12 and Pre-College, Mechanical, Minority, and Energy Conversion and Conservation Divisions; presenting all of them with the exception of one paper in 2010 when she was double-booked. Albers most recently held the position of project coordinator for the ARRA funded Student Energy Internship Program in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at NCSU. She mentored and coordinated 60+ interns with energy professionals in the private and public sectors and recruited interns to volunteer at Family STEM Nights. Prior to this experience, she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow in K-12 Education working under the direction of Liz Parry, Dr. Laura Bottomley and Dr. Karen Hollebrands in the RAMP-UP program at NCSU. During this tenure she created Energy Clubs for students in grades 3-5. Albers is passionate about experiential learning and strongly encourages the inclusion of hands-on activities into a curriculum. Her dissertation spans the Colleges of Engineering and Education and quantifies the effects of hands-on activities in an engineering lecture.

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Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Dr. Laura Bottomley received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1984 and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1985 from Virginia Tech. She received her Ph D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1992.
Dr. Bottomley worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories as a member of technical staff in Transmission Systems from 1985 to 1987, during which time she worked in ISDN standards, including representing Bell Labs on an ANSI standards committee for physical layer ISDN standards. She received an Exceptional Contribution Award for her work during this time.
After receiving her Ph D., Dr. Bottomley worked as a faculty member at Duke University and consulted with a number of companies, such as Lockheed Martin, IBM, and Ericsson. In 1997 she became a faculty member at NC State University and became the Director of Women in Engineering and K-12 Outreach. She has taught classes at the university from the freshman level to the graduate level, and outside the university from the kindergarten level to the high school level. She is currently teaching courses in engineering, electrical engineering and elementary education.
Dr. Bottomley has authored or co-authored more than 40 technical papers, including papers in such diverse journals as the IEEE Industry Applications Magazine and the Hungarian Journal of Telecommunications. She received the President's Award for Excellence in Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Mentoring program award in 1999 and individual award in 2007. She was recognized by the IEEE with an EAB Meritorious Achievement Award in Informal Education in 2009 and by the YWCA with an appointment to the Academy of Women for Science and Technology in 2008. Her program received the WEPAN Outstanding Women in Engineering Program Award in 2009. In 2011 she was recognized as the Women of the Year by the Women’s Transportation Seminar in the Research Triangle and as the Tarheel of the Week. Her work was featured on the National Science Foundation Discoveries web site. She is a member of Sigma Xi, past chair of the K-12 and Precollege Division of the American Society of Engineering Educators and a Senior Member of the IEEE.

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Experiential Learning: The Heart of a Successful Education - One Journey Through Graduate SchoolAbstract Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. – African ProverbThis paper will chronicle the journey of one, graduate student through a Mechanical EngineeringPh.D. program. She/He is a huge proponent of Experiential Learning; a method defined byDavid Kolb in 1984 and built upon the theories of John Dewey, Kurt Lewin and Jean Piaget.However, she/he did not enter graduate school knowing about experiential learning, nor itsimportance for a successful education. This discovery came over a lengthy period of time filledwith expectations, misunderstandings and positive experiences that carried her/him through eachphase of the Ph.D. process. The journey will be defined by the active, educational experiencesalong the way that helped inspire her/him to continue. These experiences eventually led her/himto discover and realize the importance of experiential learning in helping students evolve from adualistic point of view to a more intellectual and relativistic point of view; a goal of alleducational institutions.Experiential learning theory proposes using experiences as an educational tool. This paper willpresent several experiences that were inspirational to the graduate student such as the researchopportunities, physical education classes and energy audits but will focus on the most influentialexperiences which were created by the GK-12 outreach program at the university and the stateenergy internship program (SEIP) in the mechanical engineering department. The GK-12outreach program began in 2004 with a grant from the National Science Foundation andsupplemental funding from the GE Foundation and the SEIP was federally funded by ARRAmoney. The seas were not smooth but the educational experiences were more beneficial thanjust lectures and lab work. It was through these experiences, that she/he is leaving the universityhaving truly discovered her/his calling and developed the necessary skills to be successful.

Albers, L., & Bottomley, L. (2013, June), Experiential Learning: The Heart of a Successful Education - One Journey Through Graduate School Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19585

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