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Work-in-Progress: Undergraduate Teaching and Research Experiences in Engineering (Utree): An Engineering Student Organization with a Communication Focus

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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

Teaching Communication II

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1399.1 - 24.1399.14



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Paper Authors

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Victoria Vadyak


Michael Alley Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Michael Alley is an associate professor of engineering communication at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of The Craft of Scientific Presentations (2nd edition) and the faculty advisor of Utree.

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Joanna K. Garner Old Dominion University

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Christine Haas Christine Haas Consulting

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   Undergraduate Teaching and Research Experiences in Engineering (UTREE): An Engineering Student Organization with a Communication FocusIn engineering, many undergraduate organizations exist to foster the professional skills of thestudents. Such organizations seek to help students prepare for their next stage—be it as agraduate student or a professional in industry or government. Most organizations, such as theAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, target students through the discipline that thosestudents have chosen. Other organizations, such as Society of Women Engineers, target membersbecause of who they are. This paper introduces a new organization that recruits engineeringundergraduates based on how well they communicate engineering. In essence, this organizationfocuses on the nexus between engineering and communication, which is a skill associated withliberal education. Named UTREE (Undergraduate teaching and research experiences in engineering), thisorganization recruits top scholars from an engineering presentations course during theirsophomore year and empowers them with professional skills to succeed as professionals orgraduate students. In its three years at XXXXXXXXXX, the organization has achieved muchsuccess, especially in regard to the teaching, research, service, and professional development. As far as teaching, Utree teaching mentors make two-three visits each semester tomultiple sections of a first-year design course to teach presentation skills and teamwork skills. Inaddition, several Utree research scholars give presentations about their research in a first-yearseminar. Moreover, Utree teaching mentors have been so successful at teaching presentationskills to first-year students that they have been invited to help run presentation workshops bothfor junior- and senior level design courses and for graduate workshops both on campus and atother institutions. Furthermore, each semester, Utree students help teach a 75-minuteteleconference class on presentation skills to more than eighty students in Korea. As far as research, a number of members have obtained undergraduate research positionsthrough the organization. These research positions include experiences on campus andexperiences at NSF REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at other institutions. Asfar as service, Utree performs a number of tasks for the College, the most prominent being therunning of a speaking contest each semester for undergraduate engineers [1]. This paper first discusses how UTREE identifies and recruits its members. Second, thepaper presents data on the diversity of its members, the teaching and research experiences, andthe professional development activities. Third, the paper presents a qualitative analysis of theeffect of those teaching, research, and professional development activities on the UTREEmembers. Fourth, this paper discusses the broader impacts of this organization—particularly, itseffect on other engineering undergraduates in the College. Finally, the paper discussesopportunities for introducing similar organizations at other engineering institutions.Reference_________________, “Effect of a Student Speaking Contest on Acceptance of Alternative Approach to Presentations,” abstract, 2014 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition (submitted for review).

Vadyak, V., & Alley, M., & Garner, J. K., & Haas, C. (2014, June), Work-in-Progress: Undergraduate Teaching and Research Experiences in Engineering (Utree): An Engineering Student Organization with a Communication Focus Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22789

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