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Proposal Advice: Experiential Advice Focused For New Faculty

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Launching Successful Academic Careers

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1005.1 - 15.1005.10



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Paper Authors


Adrienne Minerick Mississippi State University

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Adrienne Minerick is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University having recently moved from Mississippi State University, where she was a tenured Associate Professor. She received her PhD and M.S. from the University of Notre Dame and B.S. from Michigan Tech. At Tech, Adrienne has taught Advanced Kinetics. At MSU, she taught graduate Chem Eng Math, Process Controls, Intro to Chem Eng Freshman Seminar, Heat Transfer, and Analytical Microdevice Technology courses. She is an NSF CAREER Awardee and was the faculty advisor for MSU’s NOBCChE chapter. Her research is in medical microdevice diagnostics & dielectrophoresis.

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

Proposal Advice: Experiential Advice Focused for New Faculty Abstract

At the 2009 ASEE annual meeting, the New Engineering Educators Division and the Engineering Research Council jointly sponsored a session entitled, “2575: Funding Sources for Engineering Research.” The author was one of the panelists invited to participate as the token faculty member just having earned tenure with both educational and research funding and publications. The author / panelist gave a talk on “Proposal Advice: Experiential Advice” which included a Top 10 list of Do’s & Don’ts to Earn Competitive Funding as a New Professor. The feedback from this presentation and subsequent discussion was positive and is reproduced here in a format accessible for all new engineering educators.

The advice provided is applicable to faculty writing proposals for educational research as well as scientific / engineering research. The primary focus is on competitive funding where experts and peers in the field evaluate the merits of the proposed idea and that feedback is provided to the proposer. Advice and strategies are outlined for working through rough periods and improving ideas and proposals to the level they are funded. While the perspectives provided are from one person’s experiences and not officially endorsed by any funding agency, they are focused to provide encouraging and tangible advice on how new faculty can approach writing their first proposals and get them funded.

Introduction and Brief Background of the Author

A key mentor (my mother) told me as I was growing up, “You don’t know what you don’t know until you do know what you didn’t know.” This is apparently a slight misquote from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland’, but wise nonetheless. The issue is that when one doesn’t know what they don’t know, they also don’t know what questions to ask or who to ask them of to find the answers they need to move forward. This is extremely true of beginning assistant professors in academia. While there are some necessary commonalities that will earn a person tenure at most schools (publish, get funding, publish), the playing field is different at each institution.

This paper seeks to provide the proposal writing advice I wish I had as I transitioned from being a freshly graduated PhD to a tenured Associate Professor. I began as Assistant Professor in August 2003 at Mississippi State University after having defended my Ph.D. in July 2003 at the University of Notre Dame. I had read many of the new faculty advice books1-16 and was determined to be a ‘quick starter’. I volunteered for entirely too many service activities, designed graduate recruiting brochures and other activities, all of which yielded positive feedback from my colleagues, but no real tangible measurable credentials to help my annual reviews and thus earn tenure. In retrospect, I was intimidated by writing research proposals, didn’t exactly know how to structure a proposal and lacked confidence that my ideas were good. During that first year, I only tried for smaller proposals and never stuck my neck out very far. When I got negative reviews, I felt devastated and defeated. Just as students sometimes allow grades to reflect their self-worth, I was letting feedback tell me I wasn’t good or worthy of the job. As a new faculty member, maybe the baggage that holds you back is a little different, but a Proceedings of the 2010 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright @ 2010, American Society for Engineering Education

Minerick, A. (2010, June), Proposal Advice: Experiential Advice Focused For New Faculty Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16232

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: © 2010 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