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Performing Engineering Research At Non Ph.D. Granting Institutions

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Advice from the Experts for NEEs at Small Universities

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1151.1 - 12.1151.14

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Paper Authors


Eric Larson Seattle University

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Dr. Eric Larson is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Seattle University. Dr. Larson received his Ph.D. and MS in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan in 2004 and 2001. He received his BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin in 1997. His research interests include software bug detection, software testing, program analysis, and software development.

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Agnieszka Miguel Seattle University

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Dr. Agnieszka Miguel is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Seattle University. Dr. Miguel received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2001 from the University of Washington, and MSEE and BSEE from Florida Atlantic University in 1996 and 1994. Her teaching and research interests include image and video compression, image processing, and wavelets.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Performing Engineering Research at Non-Ph.D. Granting Institutions Abstract

Research is becoming increasingly important at liberal arts colleges and masters universities. However, performing research at a non-Ph.D. granting institution has unique challenges when compared to a larger research oriented university. Faculty are expected to publish research articles with high teaching loads, limited lab space and equipment, and no graduate student assistants. This paper provides advice for new tenure-track faculty on how to effectively perform research at smaller institutions. In compiling the list of tips presented in this paper, we have not only relied on our experience as new faculty members but also received advice from more experienced faculty that represent several different disciplines of engineering.

The paper presents tips in several key areas: choosing the right research project, managing time effectively, supervising undergraduate research, finding collaborators, obtaining resources, and publishing results. One key tip that is pervasive throughout this paper is understanding the tenure requirements in your department at your institution.

1. Introduction

Research expectations have been constantly increasing at teaching colleges and universities where the primary focus is on teaching. This includes liberal arts colleges, comprehensive schools, and universities that have a Master's program but do not offer doctorate degrees. Research has several benefits to teaching oriented institutions. First, faculty members must stay current in their field. This makes faculty members more knowledgeable and as a result, more effective teachers. Having faculty members that perform research opens up opportunities to students. They can assist faculty in research, learn about cutting edge developments from talks by faculty or their contacts, and have meaningful discussions about contemporary issues in their engineering discipline. Lastly, publishing research papers and presenting work at conferences improves the visibility of the institution.

This paper describes tips and strategies for new faculty members performing research at a non- Ph.D. granting institutions. These tips were based on our own experiences and gathered from talking to other faculty members, representing a variety of engineering disciplines. Some faculty members are relatively new, starting in the last couple years. Others are untenured but nearing their tenure review. Finally, we talked to more experienced tenured faculty, some of which are chairs who are involved in reviewing tenure cases.

Our first piece of advice is to carefully pick a research topic and projects to work on. For example, it may be difficult to find undergraduate students with sufficient background to participate in a project that is too theoretical. On the other hand, if the research is too experimental, the need to obtain funds for adequate equipment and laboratory space may make certain experiments impossible. You also need to think of the looming tenure review and likely avoid projects that require significant learning and/or infrastructure development. Tips on selecting a research topic are presented in Section 3.

Larson, E., & Miguel, A. (2007, June), Performing Engineering Research At Non Ph.D. Granting Institutions Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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