Asee peer logo

Participation in Faculty-Led Off-Campus Programs as a Professional Development Opportunity for Early-Career Faculty

Download Paper |


2013 ASEE International Forum


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 22, 2013

Start Date

June 22, 2013

End Date

June 22, 2013

Conference Session

Track 3 - Session II - Faculty Development

Tagged Topic

Faculty Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

21.57.1 - 21.57.6



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Richard F. Vaz Worcester Polytechnic Institute

visit author page

Richard F. Vaz received the PhD in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), specializing in signal analysis and machine vision. He held systems and design engineering positions with the Raytheon Company, GenRad Inc., and the MITRE Corporation before joining the WPI Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty in 1987.

Rick is currently Dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies at WPI, with oversight of an academic unit focused on local and regional sustainability in support of WPI’s interdisciplinary degree requirement, the Interactive Qualifying Project. Rick also oversees WPI’s Global Perspective Program, a worldwide network of 35 Project Centers to which more than 700 students per year travel to address problems for local agencies and organizations under faculty supervision.

Rick’s teaching and research interests include service and experiential learning, engineering design and appropriate technology, and internationalizing engineering education. He has developed and advised hundreds of student research projects in the Americas, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe. Rick has published over 55 peer-reviewed or invited papers and is the recipient of numerous teaching and advising awards including the WPI Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Teaching and for Outstanding Advising. From 2004 to 2010 he served as a Senior Science Fellow of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Participation in Faculty-Led Off-Campus Programs as a Development Opportunity for Early-Career FacultyAbstractSince 1974, WPI has operated a global network of off-campus programs where studentscomplete degree-required, interdisciplinary research projects under faculty supervision. About65% of WPI undergraduates complete this requirement off-campus, working with organizations– usually overseas – to solve locally-defined, open-ended problems. Learning outcomes includeproblem solving, critical thinking, research skills, written and oral communication, teamwork,and contextual thinking. Program assessment has consistently shown that students achieve theselearning outcomes at higher levels off campus than on campus.Over 20% of the WPI faculty is involved in this program at any time, including faculty from alldepartments and disciplines. Each year about 12% of WPI’s full-time faculty spend a two-monthacademic term off campus supervising student projects in locations throughout Africa, theAmericas, Australasia, and Europe. Off-campus project advisors work closely with studentteams, guiding their research and writing, and also assuming many non-academic roles. Off-campus advisors attend to health, safety, and risk management issues, team dynamics challenges,logistics regarding housing and transportation, and cultural guidance. Faculty typically lead off-campus programs in pairs, with experienced advisors mentoring newer colleagues.This paper will describe results from a study of WPI tenure-track faculty who led student groupsoff campus prior to their tenure decision. Findings from the study suggest that despiteconsiderable demands of these assignments, early-career faculty experienced a variety ofprofessional development benefits from their participation. While many of the benefits involvedevelopment of teaching and mentoring skills, numerous benefits to research and scholarlyactivity were also reported. The paper will also examine the rate at which these faculty earnedtenure compared with other tenure candidates during the same period.

Vaz, R. F. (2013, June), Participation in Faculty-Led Off-Campus Programs as a Professional Development Opportunity for Early-Career Faculty Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--17262

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015