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The Importance of Research in Student Formation

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Kenneth Van Treuren Baylor University

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Ken Van Treuren is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University and serves as the Associate Dean in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. He received his B. S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the USAF Academy in 1977 and his M. S. in Engineering from Princeton University in 1978. He completed his DPhil in Engineering Sciences at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom in 1994. He then taught at the USAF Academy until his military retirement. At Baylor University since 1998, he teaches courses in fluid mechanics, energy systems, propulsion systems, heat transfer, and aeronautics. Research interests include renewable energy, small wind turbine aerodynamics, and noise generation as it applies to the urban environment. Currently, he designs small Unmanned Aerial System propellers, reducing noise and power requirements.

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Cynthia Fry Baylor University

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CYNTHIA C. FRY is a Senior Lecturer of Computer Science at Baylor University. She has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University, and a M.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She worked at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as a Project engineer, a Senior Project Engineer, a Crew Training Manager, and the Science Operations Director for several shuttle flights. She was awarded a Presidential Direct Commission in the U.S. Navy as an Engineering Duty Officer, and worked with the Naval Maritime Intelligence Center as a Scientific/Technical Intelligence Analyst. She was the owner and chief systems engineer for Systems Engineering Services (SES), a computer systems design, development, and consultation firm, designing turn-key hardware and software solutions for the medical industry. She joined the faculty of the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Baylor University in 1997, where she teaches a variety of engineering and computer science classes, in addition to being the Faculty Advisor for the Women in Computer Science (WiCS), Director of the Computer Science Fellows program, and the Co- Director for the Technology Entrepreneurship Initiative at Baylor. She is the co-PI on a series of grants from the Kern Family Foundation, and a KEEN Fellow. She has authored and co-authored over sixty peer-reviewed papers.

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Bradley Norris

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Research is the process intended to create new or improved technology that can provide a competitive advantage at the business, industry, or national level. The future economic progress of any country will be driven by the invention and application of new technologies. The emphasis on funding in universities is misleading and understates the actual importance of research at the university and its importance in student formation. Successful research programs involve undergraduate students, graduate students, and informed faculty. Research prepares students to identify problems and solve them in innovative ways and can be measured by how students’ knowledge, thinking patterns, skills and attitudes are changed. Involvement in research, for either students or faculty, addresses the need to develop curiosity and the ability to ask the right question. This paper will emphasize the importance of research to the economy and higher education. It will then introduce the importance of research to student formation and reinforce the importance of exposing students early to the concepts of research. This paper will then show the connection between research and Entrepreneurially Minded Learning (EML) and describe three projects, supported by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) and the Kern Foundation, intended to expose undergraduates to research early in their academic careers. The first project was part of KEEN’s initial “EML through Research” workshop given in Nov 2019. The project, entitled “Research and EML: Helping Students (and Faculty) See and Understand the Value of Research” grew from a desire to involve more undergraduate students in research. The vision was to expose undergraduates to research and then determine how to teach them basic skills. While the scope of the project was limited, it led to the second project. The second project, entitled “Understanding the Importance of Research in Student Formation and Value Creation,” was to develop three short videos intended to inform undergraduates about research. The three videos were filmed and associated instructor guides developed for topics concerning undergraduate research. The broad topics were “What is Research?”, “Undergraduate Research,” and “Product Commercialization.” The third project is just beginning and aims to further expose undergraduates to research and reinforce the importance research in student formation. It is entitled “An EM-Driven Framework for Undergraduate Research” and involves six institutions from across the KEEN network. The areas being developed are Early Exposure, Student Research Training, Faculty & Mentor Training, and Assessment. This project is just starting and will be ongoing for three years.

Van Treuren, K., & Fry, C., & Norris, B. (2022, August), The Importance of Research in Student Formation Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--40508

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