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Work-in-Progress: The Design and Implementation of EFRI-Research Experience in Mentoring Catalyst Initiative

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Endeavors: Engineering, Art and Society

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Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Olgha Bassam Qaqish North Carolina State University at Raleigh

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Olgha B. Qaqish, Ph.D. is a engineering educator and researcher, who has experience working with students at all levels in science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM). Dr. Qaqish is an author of a mathematics textbook: Algebra Essentials. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at NC State. Courses that she’s taught in the last couple of years include BME 210: Biomedical Electronics and BME 490: Research in Engineering. In addition to teaching, works with the associate dean of engineering in the Dean’s office. Dr. Qaqish earned her master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill and earned her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. Prior to earning her graduate degrees, Dr. Qaqish worked in the software and modeling industry at the MathWorks, where she began as a technical support engineer and quickly was promoted as one of the first four software training engineers. She developed comprehensive in-house introductory and advanced courses and client-specific customized curricula. She facilitated over 200 two- to five-day Instructor-Led and online courses over a seven-year period. She is a strong advocate for exploring strategies for successful academic achievement at all levels of education and customizes her educational approach to enhance the diversity of strengths of each individual student while also shoring up areas of relative weaknesses. She is a tireless advocate for her STEM adult learners.

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Andrew Greenberg Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison Orcid 16x16


Christine S. Grant North Carolina State University at Raleigh

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Dr. Christine S. Grant joined the NC State faculty in 1989 after completing her M.S. and Ph.D. (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Sc.B. (Brown University) all in Chemical Engineering (ChE). One of less than 10 African-American women full ChE professors in the country, her research interests are in interfacial phenomena and recently biomedical systems. She is the first Associate Dean of Faculty Advancement in NC State’s College of Engineering. Awards/service include 2015 AAAS Mentor Award, Fellow in American Institute of Chemical Engineers Board of Directors, NSF Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring, Council for Chemical Research Diversity Award. She is the founding director of the Promoting Underrepresented Presence on Science and Engineering Faculties (PURPOSE) Institute”. A certified coach, Grant consults and empowers STEM individuals at all levels in the academy towards excellence in career and professional development. Her workshops on mentoring and academic career development for NSF ADVANCE programs at Purdue, Cornell, Texas A&M, University of Toledo, UVA, Prairie View A&M, and the ADVANCE Annual PI meetings promote STEM faculty development while providing diverse role models for students. She has mentored and empowered hundreds of faculty, students and postdocs.

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Ashley Brown

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) Emerging Frontiers and Innovation (EFRI) Research Experience and Mentoring (REM) program nationally supports hands-on research and ongoing mentorship in STEM fields at various universities and colleges. The NSF EFRI-REM Mentoring Catalyst initiative was designed to build and train these robust, interactive research mentoring communities that are composed of faculty, postdoctoral associates and graduate student mentors, to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in STEM research who are funded through NSF EFRI-REM. This work-in-progress paper describes the first five years of this initiative, where interactive training programs were implemented from multiple frameworks of effective mentoring. Principal investigators, postdoctoral associates and graduate students are often expected to develop and establish mentoring plans without any formal training in how to be effective mentors. Since the start of this initiative, over 300 faculty, postdoctoral associates and graduate students have been trained on promising practices, strategies, and tools to enhance their research mentoring experiences. In addition to formal mentor training, opportunities to foster a community of practice with current mentors and past mentor training participants (sage mentors) were provided. During these interactions, promising mentoring practices were shared to benefit the mentors and the different mentoring populations that the EFRI-REMs serve. The community of practice connected a diverse group of institutions and faculty to help the EFRI-REM community in its goal of broadening participation across a range of STEM disciplines. Those institutions are then able to discuss, distill and disseminate best practices around the mentoring of participants through targeted mentored training beyond the EFRI-REM at their home institutions. Not only does the EFRI-REM Catalyst initiative focus on broadening participation via strategic training of research mentors, it also empowers mentees, including undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral associates, in their research experiences through an entering research undergraduate course and formal mentoring training workshops. Future expansion to other academic units (e.g., colleges, universities) builds on the research collaborations and the initiatives developed and presented in this work-in-progress paper. A long-term goal is to provide insights via collaborative meetings (e.g., webinars, presentations) for STEM and related faculty who are assembling an infrastructure (e.g., proposals for the ERFI-REM program) across a range of research structures. In summary, this work-in-progress paper provides a description of the design and implementation of this initiative, preliminary findings, expanding interactions to other NSF supported Engineering Research Centers, and the future directions of the EFRI-REM Mentoring Catalyst initiative.

Qaqish, O. B., & Greenberg, A., & Grant, C. S., & Brown, A. (2021, July), Work-in-Progress: The Design and Implementation of EFRI-Research Experience in Mentoring Catalyst Initiative Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38219

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