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MEERCat: A Case Study of How Faculty-led Research Initiatives Gave Rise to a Cross-departmental Research Center with Potential to Inform Local Policy

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering and Public Policy Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30802

Download Count

35

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Paper Authors

biography

Rohit Kandakatla Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Rohit Kandakatla is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has his bachelors and masters in Electrical Engineering from India. He currently serves as the Chair-elect of the ASEE Student Division as has been an active member of the international engineering education community while serving as the President of Student Platform for Engineering Education Development (SPEED) and as the Vice-President of Student Engagement for the International Federation for Engineering Education Societies (IFEES). His research interests include education policy, faculty development in higher education, integration of technology and entrepreneurship in engineering education, and service learning.

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Angela Goldenstein Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Angela Goldenstein is the Managing Director of MEERCat and comes to Purdue University with a decade of experience in the technology industry working for Google & Cisco. She has a BBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and is an MBA Candidate at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She excels at leading cross-functional projects, and on MEERCat, she drives the Center's overall strategy, operations, and research-to-practice initiatives. At Purdue, Angela’s passionate about driving change in the School of Mechanical Engineering and making the experience even better for future students.

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David Allen Evenhouse Purdue University, West Lafayette

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David Evenhouse is a Graduate Student and Research Assistant in the Purdue School of Engineering Education. He graduated from Calvin College in the Spring of 2015 with a B.S.E. concentrating in Mechanical Engineering. Experiences during his undergraduate years included a semester in Spain, taking classes at the Universidad de Oviedo and the Escuela Politécnica de Ingenieria de Gijón, as well as multiple internships in Manufacturing and Quality Engineering. His current work primarily investigates the effects of select emergent pedagogies upon student and instructor performance and experience at the collegiate level. Other interests include engineering ethics, engineering philosophy, and the intersecting concerns of engineering industry and higher academia.

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Edward J. Berger Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0337-7607

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Edward Berger is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education and Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, joining Purdue in August 2014. He has been teaching mechanics for over 20 years, and has worked extensively on the integration and assessment of specific technology interventions in mechanics classes. He was one of the co-leaders in 2013-2014 of the ASEE Virtual Community of Practice (VCP) for mechanics educators across the country. His current research focuses on student problem-solving processes and use of worked examples, change models and evidence-based teaching practices in engineering curricula, and the role of non-cognitive and affective factors in student academic outcomes and overall success.

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Jeffrey F. Rhoads Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jeffrey F. Rhoads is a Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University and is affiliated with both the Birck Nanotechnology Center and Ray W. Herrick Laboratories at the same institution. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees, each in mechanical engineering, from Michigan State University in 2002, 2004, and 2007, respectively. Dr. Rhoads’ current research interests include the predictive design, analysis, and implementation of resonant micro/nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS) for use in chemical and biological sensing, electromechanical signal processing, and computing; the dynamics of parametrically-excited systems and coupled oscillators; the thermomechanics of energetic materials; additive manufacturing; and mechanics education. Dr. Rhoads is a Member of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), where he serves on the Design Engineering Division’s Technical Committees on Micro/Nanosystems and Vibration and Sound, as well as the Design, Materials, and Manufacturing (DMM) Segment Leadership Team. Dr. Rhoads is a recipient of numerous research and teaching awards, including the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award; the Purdue University School of Mechanical Engineering’s Harry L. Solberg Best Teacher Award (twice), Robert W. Fox Outstanding Instructor Award, and B.F.S. Schaefer Outstanding Young Faculty Scholar Award; the ASEE Mechanics Division’s Ferdinand P. Beer and E. Russell Johnston, Jr. Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award; and the ASME C. D. Mote Jr., Early Career Award. In 2014 Dr. Rhoads was included in ASEE Prism Magazine’s 20 Under 40.

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Jennifer DeBoer Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jennifer DeBoer is currently Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses on international education systems, individual and social development, technology use and STEM learning, and educational environments for diverse learners.

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Abstract

This work-in progress paper presents a case study at a large Midwestern university where two faculty-led initiatives resulted in a cross-departmental center, the Mechanical Engineering Education Research Center at BLINDUNIV (MEERCat BLINDUNIV), with a goal of transitioning engineering education research advances into practice at scale. Other faculty engaged in innovation and research can use this case study to identify strategies to collect data and use the results to inform both the innovation itself and the broader departmental system (i.e., policies and practices) in which it operates. By systematically looking at the larger implications of their local innovation, faculty can create productive research-to-practice cycles that can improve the teaching practice and departmental culture, and later inform policy decisions at the department and college level.

Two signature initiatives under the MEERCat umbrella provide useful examples of such data collection and research strategies, and connections to inform research-to-practice. In one research project, faculty in the School of Mechanical Engineering transformed the core sophomore dynamics course offered to undergraduate students into an Active, Blended, and Collaborative (ABC) learning environment, now known as “Freeform”. As the Dynamics course was taught in an iteratively-refined Freeform learning environment, the rate at which students received the non-passing D, F, and W grades decreased. The Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) project is another faculty-led research effort, which evaluates those cultural factors that influence student academic and professional outcomes, and engages faculty, staff, and students in conversations that span the pedagogical-to-departmental-policy spectrum. The approaches adopted in the Freeform and RED projects are detailed in this paper, with a special emphasis on data collection, research, and specific partnerships that enable department-level policy and practice discussions to take place.

MEERCat’s mission is to put results from the research studies into large-scale practice. It allows the Freeform and RED projects to work in parallel to align data collection and implementation efforts, and leverage the network of other researchers and professionals on our campus, including our Institutional Research Office, and Center for Instructional Excellence. Since its establishment, MEERCat has received visibility across the University and has demonstrated the potential to inform practice both in the School of Mechanical Engineering and across other Schools in the College of Engineering. This paper describes the process of how a faculty-driven pedagogical innovation and research around departmental culture laid the foundation for a University-level research center that has begun to show the potential to inform teaching and learning in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

Kandakatla, R., & Goldenstein, A., & Evenhouse, D. A., & Berger, E. J., & Rhoads, J. F., & DeBoer, J. (2018, June), MEERCat: A Case Study of How Faculty-led Research Initiatives Gave Rise to a Cross-departmental Research Center with Potential to Inform Local Policy Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30802

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