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Professional Development Program for Improving the Diversity of Faculty in Electrical and Computer Engineering (iREDEFINE ECE)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Electrical and Computer Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Susan M. Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, feminist and liberative pedagogies, engineering student persistence, and student autonomy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Lord is a fellow of the ASEE and IEEE and is active in the engineering education community including serving as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, on the FIE Steering Committee, and as President of the IEEE Education Society for 2009-2010. She is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education. She and her coauthors were awarded the 2011 Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education and the 2011 Best Paper Award for the IEEE Transactions on Education. In Spring 2012, Dr. Lord spent a sabbatical at Southeast University in Nanjing, China teaching and doing research.

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Athina Petropolu Rutgers University

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Athina P. Petropulu received her undergraduate degree from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from Northeastern University, Boston MA, all in Electrical and Computer Engineering. She is Distinguished Professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at Rutgers, having served as chair of the department during 2010-2016. Before joining Rutgers in 2010, she was faculty at Drexel University. She held Visiting Scholar appointments at SUPELEC, Universite’ Paris Sud, Princeton University and University of Southern California. Dr. Petropulu's research interests span the area of statistical signal processing, wireless communications, signal processing in networking, physical layer security, and radar signal processing. Her research has been funded by various government industry sponsors including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval research, the US Army, the National Institute of Health, the Whitaker Foundation, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Dr. Petropulu is Fellow of IEEE and recipient of the 1995 Presidential Faculty Fellow Award given by NSF and the White House. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Signal Processing (2009-2011), IEEE Signal Processing Society Vice President-Conferences (2006-2008), and is currently member-at-large of the IEEE Signal Processing Board of Governors. She was the General Chair of the 2005 International Conference on Acoustics Speech and Signal Processing (ICASSP-05), Philadelphia PA, and is General Co-Chair of the 2018 IEEE International Workshop on Signal Processing Advances in Wireless Communications (SPAWC), to be held in Kalamata Greece in June 2018. She is recipient of the 2005 IEEE Signal Processing Magazine Best Paper Award, and the 2012 IEEE Signal Processing Society Meritorious Service Award for "exemplary service in technical leadership capacities". She is IEEE Distinguished Lecturer for the Signal Processing Society for 2017-2018.

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Improving the Diversity of Faculty in Electrical and Computer Engineering (iREDEFINE) offers an innovative model for improving diversity at the ECE postdoc and professorial levels. As a field, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) suffers from a lack of participation of women and underrepresented minorities (W-URM) at the undergraduate, graduate, and professorial levels, even compared to other engineering disciplines. iREDEFINEis a collaborative effort among ECE leaders which aims to proactively motivate and prepare some W-URM PhD students to consider tenure track faculty or postdoc positions in ECE departments of USA universities. The iREDEFINE project capitalizes on a unique opportunity to bring together ECE department heads with W-URM graduate students. Funded by the National Science Foundation and supported by the ECE Department Heads Association (ECEDHA), the project includes an annual workshop held in conjunction with the ECEDHA Annual Conference and Expo and follow up mentoring activities. Over fifty applications were received for the first iREDEFINE cohort. Fourteen were funded by NSF and others were funded by their institutions to form a cohort of 46 individuals. The number of applicants demonstrates the need for such a program. The first iREDEFINE workshop offered in 2017 provided professional development on negotiation skills, a glimpse of the life and career of ECE faculty members, information on different types of schools, tips on how to prepare for a successful academic position interview, and opportunities for networking with over 300 department heads and 40 peers. In response to a post-workshop survey, students reported that they particularly valued the networking opportunities with department heads and peers provided by this unique opportunity to bring students and chairs together at the ECEDHA conference. Participants’ interest in postdoc and faculty positions increased after the workshop with more of an increase in interest in faculty positions. Those who responded to a second survey six months later reported that they particularly valued gaining clarity about the job search process and application materials and the networking. Ten participants responding to this survey had applied for postdoc or faculty positions. One had obtained a faculty position and one a postdoc. Those who attended mentoring teleconferences on topics such as mock interviews, found them to be very useful. Participant suggestions for improvements are being incorporated into the second iREDEFINE workshop in 2018 including a panel of junior ECE faculty and a longer poster session.

Lord, S. M., & Petropolu, A. (2018, June), Professional Development Program for Improving the Diversity of Faculty in Electrical and Computer Engineering (iREDEFINE ECE) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah.

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