Stories about...Undergraduate Education Reform
April 21, 2017
Folks in different disciplines, say engineering and biology, often don’t know how to talk to each other and, thus, have trouble collaborating. So Marianne Alleyne, a Research Scientist in Integrated Biology’s Entomology Department, and Aimy Wissa, an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE), have teamed up to try to change that. They’ve designed a new biomimetics/bioinspiration course, ME 498/IB496, which seeks to use an advanced design experience to foster an interdisciplinary mindset among students in the course.
April 10, 2017
“You don’t want diversity just for the sake of diversity, don’t want them just for the sake of having them in the room. You want them for their perspective.” – Kelly Cross
Kelly Cross and several colleagues have begun a three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the experiences of women of color in engineering. Aptly named “The Double Bind of Race and Gender: A Look into the Experiences of Women of Color in Engineering,” the study Cross is conducting, along with Jenny Amos, Kathryn Clancy, Princess Imoukhuede, and Ruby Mendenhall, is looking at how women of color are doubly disadvantaged. They not only have to overcome historical gender inequities inherent in engineering, but also face the many challenges racial minorities encounter.
Student Spotlight: Hani Awni–Engineering for Social Justice Scholar
March 1, 2017
Hani Awni was not always interested in the role engineering should play in regards to social justice, but after venturing into the real world, he realized there was more. Hani is an engineering student who studied what he found “technically interesting” during his undergraduate years, but following two years working in Silicon Valley, he was left looking for more.
Engineering for Social Justice Scholars Program Helps Students Rethink Engineering's Role in Society
November 10, 2016
Are you passionate about righting historical inequities in our society? Do you have a penchant for STEM outreach to multi-ethnic middle-schoolers? For 18 engineering undergrads, the answer to both of these questions was a resounding “Yes!” So this fall, they signed up for Engineering’s new, two-semester-long Engineering for Social Justice (ESJ) Scholars Program.
New ENG 198 Course Teaches Freshmen the Engineering Process, Teamwork, While Addressing Personal Mobility
November 9, 2016
The idea behind ENG 198, the new Engineering course being piloted in fall 2016, is to give freshmen a chance to discover what it’s like to be an engineer early on…with a few caveats. Working as part of an interdisciplinary team, students are to come up with an innovation of benefit to society in the area of personal mobility. Plus, despite the students being freshmen, course planners don't intend to smooth out the path for the students; they want the students to navigate some bumps in the road—just like real engineers do. The goal? For students to learn the engineering process, experience teamwork, and come up with an end product that—while not necessarily 100% successful—lets them experience having contributed to society.
Under-Represented Students Visit Campus, Feel “At Home” at Illinois During ASPIRE
September 24, 2015
“We believe in the mission of trying to broaden participation; we believe in the value of diversity.” – Daniel Wong, Associate Director of the Graduate College's Educational Equity Program
With the Graduate College and individual departments, who helped provide meals, footing the bill, under-represented undergraduate students from all over the U.S. visited Illinois on September 20–22, 2015, as part of ASPIRE, a campus visit and early application program of the Graduate College’s Educational Equity Program.
Formula SAE: Shaping Engineers Who Think Outside the Box
December 19, 2014
It makes sense that three MechSE upperclassmen, senior Mike Bastanipour and juniors Alex Allmandinger and Keith Harris, some of the leaders of Illinois' Formula SAE racing team, want careers in the automotive industry or motor sports. They've spent the last several years designing and competing a high-performance racing car and interning at companies like Ford and Chrysler. But, they've been infatuated with cars since way before that.
SungWoo Nam Creates Virtual Lab, Promotes Undergraduate Research
November 19, 2014
SungWoo Nam, an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering, appreciates the little things—the really little things—like on the nanoscale or the atomic level. However, when it comes to STEM education, he likes to work with students across the entire spectrum: graduate students, undergraduates, and even high school students. But his passion is exposing a sometimes overlooked group—college sophomores—to the wonders and the rewards of research, like his own research on nanoscale devices and materials, particularly graphene.
ECE's Daniel Wasserman Does "Whatever It Takes to Get Students to Learn"
September 25, 2014
Assistant Professor Daniel Wasserman of Illinois' Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) has never met a STEM education challenge he hasn't liked. While he enjoys working with Illinois engineering students (whom he says "are, of course, top, top students, and they're fantastic"), for a change of pace—and maybe a challenge—he likes to work with non-engineering college students, high school students, even grade-schoolers.
WIE Camp 2014: Creating Community for Female Engineering Students
August 25, 2014
Dean Susan Larson recalls that when she took over as the Director of Women in Engineering (WIE) in 2003, she thought, "The women need something to get started. They're a minority, but if they know one another, they'll be ok. They'll form a community; they'll make those connections." So, hoping to "bring them all together to get to know one another and get to know the campus and some of the instructors and advisors here," she started WIE Camp.
CEE Undergraduate Education: Shaping Multi-Disciplinary Problem Solvers
August 19, 2014
"Our agenda is to educate and help develop the next generation of civil engineers so that they are not only theoretically rigorously strong, but can also tackle big multidisciplinary issues in a way that they have deep understanding and are also capable of working with people from different disciplines to solve societal challenges." Liang Liu
Students in New Sustainability Course Tackle Real-World, Campus Problems
December 10, 2013
Ever complained about the poor condition of Illinois' interstates? Ever worried about our ever-burgeoning landfills full of garbage? Ever complained about the pot holes in campus streets, or been embarrassed that visitors' first impression of campus is a whiff of the South Farms? The 14 Civil and Environmental Engineering students who took CEE 398 PBL, a brand new sustainability course in Fall 2013, got the chance to do something about some of these issues.
SIIP: Reforming Undergraduate Engineering to Engage Students
October 29, 2013
The goal of SIIP (the Strategic Instructional Initiatives Program) is to reform Engineering's core undergraduate courses to engage students and improve learning. How? By changing the way the courses are taught, then checking with students to see if it's been effective. Is it working? Based on feedback from educators at SIIP's recent Poster Showcase on Friday October 18, it appears to be.
Mats Selen—Changing the Way Physics is Taught
October 8, 2013
"Well I have to confess, I was always in the closet about teaching. I did all my research, but I secretly always loved teaching as much as I did research, probably more…so suddenly, if they could be the same things, what could be better?" – Mats Selen, Physics Professor
Mats Selen loves teaching physics, and he's not ashamed to admit it. After 20 years doing particle physics research, which he found to be both exciting and rewarding, when a successful experiment of his ended, he figured, "This might not be a bad time to switch what I am doing. So I thought to turn over a new leaf and come out of the closet and be a real-life teacher all the way around."
Campus Experts to Develop a Digital Forensics Undergraduate Curriculum
May 31, 2013
Want to become a digital detective? There's a new course on campus this fall: CS 498, Special Topics. Despite the course's nondescript rubric, it invites students from a number of disciplines, including computer science, criminal justice, and even law, to investigate the exciting, up-and-coming field of Digital Forensics.
Hands-On Experience With Cars Prepares Students to Problem Solve Down the Road
October 10, 2012
For the last five years at least, Illinois' Mike Philpott has been working double shifts. Most days, the Interim Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs may be found in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, or teaching ENG 491. Evenings, weekends, and probably part of Christmas break, however, this race car enthusiast can be found supervising students at the Engineering Students Project Lab, watching students navigate cars around cones on Assembly Hall's parking lot, keeping his fingers crossed in downtown Houston in hopes that his team will travel six miles on a miniscule amount of gas, or holding his breath lest the Formula SAE car break down during the main competition in Michigan.
Engineering Ambassadors: Poised to Change the Way Engineering is Presented
September 18, 2012
"When engineering and STEM educators talk about 'changing the conversation,' it's a huge step forward to even be thinking about communicating science and engineering as a conversation instead of as a boring, one-sided, monotonous lecture where one person is talking, or worse, reading off a slide filled with bulleted lists and long chunks of text." Leslie Srajek
Illinois' Engineering to Revamp Targeted Undergraduate Courses
May 18, 2012
Despite being highly-ranked nationally, the College of Engineering is not content to rest on its laurels. Striving to improve aspects of its undergraduate education programs by specifically targeting large courses (sometimes dubbed by students as "weed-out courses"), the College recently initiated the Strategic Instructional Initiatives Program (SIIP). Its goal: to renovate specific undergraduate courses to improve student engagement and learning outcomes.
Robots and Real-World Problems:
Michael Loui Tackles Engineering Education
October 24, 2011
Building robots and designing machines that solve real-world problems—it doesn't sound like the work of college freshmen, but professors in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois have found that first-year engineering students are up to the challenge. Problem-based learning is a teaching method that gives students a specific problem to solve and leaves it up to them to come up with the solution. Engineering faculty have been using problem-based learning, or as engineers call it, design laboratory, for years. They have seen the benefits of the technique first-hand: it promotes problem-solving skills, develops creative skills, increases student retention, and promotes students' confidence in the subject area.
ECE 101 Engages Students by "Harnessing" Their Interests
November 4, 2011
Illinois' General Education requirements are often viewed by students and teachers alike as exactly that—requirements to be gotten out of the way and checked off the list. To view these classes as opportunities to learn and grow is the perspective of the minority, and a few in this minority are doing something about it. At least two teachers in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are trying to change the way students and educators view these basic requirements and are offering a class that pushes students to go beyond the minimum.
Amos's Atomic Microscope Gives Students Close-Up Look at Cells
August 26, 2011
A few adventurous young bioengineers are taking cell research to a whole new level—the atomic level. University of Illinois bioengineering students now have access to a new tool for looking at cells called an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM). In March, the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust provided the $290,000 machine, in the form of a grant, to the university and to bioengineering lecturer Jennifer Amos. Amos will lead a new class this fall called “The Bioreactor Lab” that will focus on teaching students about the use Atomic Force Microscopy in bioengineering.
Chemistry Receives Funding to Improve Services to Undergraduate Students
Get students interested in chemistry! While the goal of Chemistry at Illinois may be simply stated, to achieve it, the Department has taken on a task that is not so simple: to design and implement a new undergraduate chemistry curriculum. Besides fostering student interest in chemistry, the Department hopes to give students a solid foundation in chemical competencies, attract under-represented students to STEM majors, and provide students in introductory chemistry with a knowledge of chemical research problems.