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On the Contribution of Adjunct Engineering Faculty to Learning Programs: Enhancing the Practice and Providing Guidance to Solving Real Problems

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 16: Faculty Development and Teaching Contexts

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for over 37 years. He has held academic positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penna (66-69), at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (69-87), and at the University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar (87-00). Professor Akili’s major field is geotechnical engineering and materials. His research work & experience include: characterization of arid and semi arid soils, piled foundations, pavement design & materials, and concrete durability. His interests also include: contemporary issues of engineering education in general, and those of the Middle East and the Arab Gulf States in particular.

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On the Contribution of Adjunct Engineering Faculty to Learning Programs: Enhancing the Practice and Providing Guidance to Solving Real Problems


The proposed paper examines the status quo of adjunct faculty in engineering institutions and argues that adjuncts could enrich an academic engineering program by bringing in their practical experience and by introducing relevant applications and design venues to the classroom. Adjunct faculty members do also help in setting up linkages with the industrial sector, which often leads to: employment opportunities for graduates, co-op activities, and potential development of collaborative research programs. Nevertheless, the present status of most adjunct faculty is tenuous, subject to shifting enrollment, and considered as a temporary arrangement, or until a “full-time” faculty is appointed. Unfortunately adjuncts, often with proven records of good teaching, are marginalized by the academic systems in place today; and their efforts and contributions to the academic process are undervalued. If fair treatment and proper recognition are accorded to adjuncts; then, their morale, loyalty to the institution, and their teaching effectiveness would improve markedly.

In many areas of engineering education, worldwide, there appears to be an increased reliance on adjunct faculty with industrial experience. Clearly, such an arrangement has many benefits to the engineering education process. The continued increase in emphasis by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology on engineering design and related courses in undergraduate curriculum leads to an increased reliance on faculty with practical experience. Adjunct faculty can play a significant role in developing practical courses and in guiding students to solve real world design problems.

Next, the paper reports on adopted strategies, at an oversees university, to bring in adjuncts with practical experience to the classroom. These strategies were offered to enhance the teaching effectiveness of adjunct faculty, improve their morale, stimulate their loyalty and connectedness to the academic department, and strive to increase their acceptance by students and regular faculty. The proposed paper sheds light on the positive attributes and improvements that have resulted from the involvement and contributions of adjuncts, who “teamed-up” with “full-time” faculty members, in an attempt to bring the “practice” to 3rd and 4th year students in civil engineering. The success achieved in meeting stated objectives of design-oriented course, i.e., including students’ exposure to the “practice”, was attributed, in large measure, to pre-planning and coordination that preceded course delivery. Plus, the experience abilities, and knowledge of the adjuncts in addressing the practice in the locale. The positive outcome of this experience has lead other faculty members to follow the same path, i.e., search for practitioners-as adjunct faculty- to assist in bringing the practice into the classroom, in partnership with “full-time” faculty. The paper concludes with ideas for recognizing the teaching effectiveness of adjunct faculty.

Akili, W. (2019, June), On the Contribution of Adjunct Engineering Faculty to Learning Programs: Enhancing the Practice and Providing Guidance to Solving Real Problems Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33141

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