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Snapshot of an Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Education Experience

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Discipline Specific Topics and Techniques

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1087.1 - 24.1087.14



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Paper Authors


Tasha Zephirin Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Tasha Zephirin is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is currently a participant in the National Science Foundation sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training in Magnetic and Nanostructured Materials (IGERT-MNM) program-a collaborative effort between Purdue University, Cornell University and Norfolk State University. Her research interests include the development, evaluation, and assessment of co-curricular and extra-curricular STEM programs to diverse audiences across the education continuum (e.g. community members, K-12 students, undergraduate students, graduate students, and industry professionals) in varying contexts.

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Catherine G.P. Berdanier Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Catherine G.P. Berdanier is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from The University of South Dakota and her M.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University. Her current research interests include graduate-level engineering education, including inter- and multidisciplinary graduate education, innovative and novel graduate education experiences, global learning, and preparation of graduate students for future careers.

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Monica Farmer Cox Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Monica F. Cox, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education and is the Inaugural Director of the College of Engineering’s Leadership Minor at Purdue University. She also serves as the Executive Director of the International Institute for Engineering Education Assessment (i2e2a). She obtained a B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College, a M.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Her teaching interests relate to the professional development of graduate engineering students and to leadership, policy, and change in STEM education. Primary research projects explore the preparation of graduate students for diverse careers and the development of reliable and valid engineering education assessment tools. She is a NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipient.

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Suely M. Black Norfolk State University

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Snapshot of an Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Education ExperienceThe National Science Foundation IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) programintends to enable changes in graduate education that foster collaboration and interdisciplinarity. The programsupports initiatives to educate and prepare graduate students to become innovative scientists, engineers, andeducators with interdisciplinary and global perspectives who function as leaders in rapidly changing environments1,2.IGERT therefore provides the impetus for the design and implementation of learning environments in whichgraduate students can develop adaptive skills, such as creating, accessing, and evaluating relevant information, usingnovel technologies, and working efficiently in diverse, interdisciplinary teams.1,3University A, B, and C have partnered through the IGERT in X (IGERT-X) project to form an interdisciplinarycollaboration of engineering education researchers and materials scientists and engineers to create and iterativelyredesign a learning environment. The project provides an avenue to translate education research to practice in acomprehensively networked education approach4. The project’s iterative nature (revisited on an annual basis) andrelative small number of participants (approx. 15 new and returning students) facilitate the implementation andassessment of programmatic improvements that aim to equip students with the skills to serve as creative agents ofchange and to excel in fluid and interdisciplinary environments.This enhanced IGERT-X graduate experience focuses on collaborative and situated training opportunities withgraduate students serving as collaborators with faculty. Contrary to the traditional model of students as recipients ofeducation4, the IGERT-X framework has graduate students leading the design and delivery of their learningexperiences with the opportunity to learn and apply interdisciplinary technical and pedagogical knowledge as well asprofessional skills. Loosely applying a design-based research approach5, a cycle of design, delivery, assessment andre-design of all activities has taken place annually since the start of the project in the fall of 2009. Program elementsinclude modular courses, retreats at partnering campuses, student-driven research initiatives, and plannedinternational experiences. Internal formative assessments and discussions have directed content and programmaticchanges and student learning outcomes have been developed to qualify overall program objectives.This paper will provide a brief overview of the program to date through our revisit of the alignment of desiredoutcomes, evidence and learning experiences6 with a primary focus on how this alignment relates to our fourmodular courses: 1) Interdisciplinary Research 2) IP and Ethics 3) Teaching and Learning and 4) Technical Writing.While additional courses and seminars are common in IGERT programs6, IGERT-X uniquely places thedevelopment of its learning modules in the hands of Graduate Trainees with faculty support. The contribution of thiscomponent to advancing the IGERT program goals as well as the challenges to program development due toorganizational and disciplinary culture differences will be explored.References1. Bransford J. Preparing people for rapidly changing environments. J. Eng. Educ. 2007;96(1):1–4.2. National Science Foundation. Introduction to the IGERT program. 2013. Available Johri A, Olds B. Situated engineering learning: Bridging engineering education research and the learningsciences. J. Eng. Educ. 2011;100(1):151–185.4. Sheppard SD, Macatangay K, Colby A, Sullivan WM. Educating Engineers - Designing for the Future of theField. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 2009.5. Anderson T, Shattuck J. Design-based research: A decade of progress in education research? Educ. Res.2012;41(1):16–25.6. Borrego M, Cutler S. Constructive alignment of interdisciplinary graduate curriculum in engineering and science:An analysis of successful IGERT proposals. J. Eng. Educ. 2010.

Zephirin, T., & Berdanier, C. G., & Cox, M. F., & Black, S. M. (2014, June), Snapshot of an Interdisciplinary Graduate Engineering Education Experience Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23020

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