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Faculty Learn How to Cultivate Innovative Practices into Courses During Opening of School Symposium

Faculty Learn How to Cultivate Innovative Practices into Courses During Opening of School Symposium

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology can play a key role in bringing innovation to engineering education, according to Karl A. Smith, veteran engineering education researcher and instructor.


Looking Into The Future: Researcher and distinguished professor Karl Smith discussed emerging trends in engineering education to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology faculty members and administrators at this year's Opening of School Symposium.

Smith served as the keynote speaker at Rose-Hulman's Opening of School Symposium on Aug. 26. The theme of the session was "Advancing the Practice of Engineering Education."

There is increasing emphasis on innovation in engineering, science and math education. The National Science Foundation has implemented the Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program. The National Academy of Engineers' Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium has increased its emphasis on evaluation and assessment of innovative practices.

Smith is cooperative learning professor of engineering education at Purdue University and distinguished teaching professor at the University of Minnesota. Starting as a materials processing engineering researcher, he struggled to find better ways to help engineering students learn, embraced cooperative learning as an education innovation. Along the way he became an engineering education researcher who has been deeply involved with the emergence of engineering education as a field of research.

Smith's presentation to Rose-Hulman faculty members and administrators touched on the following topics:

  • How should engineering educators cultivate innovative practices in engineering education? It examined the role students, teachers, the discipline content experts, engineering practitioners, learning scientists and education specialists have in the education process?
  • How do educators move a new practice from a classroom to the larger engineering education community? What is the role of engineering education research?
  • What is Rigorous Research in Engineering Education (RREE)? How is it similar and different from traditional engineering research and practice?
  • How can we keep RREE grounded in and useful for engineering education practice?

Preparing For New School Year: Phillip Cornwell (left), vice president of academic affairs, greets returning Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology faculty members during the Opening of School Symposium.

Smith has been actively involved in engineering education research and practice for nearly 40 years. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and past chair of the Educational Research and Methods Division. He has worked with thousands of faculty all over the world on engagement, especially cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and constructive controversy. He has co-written eight books, including "Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom, 3rd Ed."

The Opening of School Symposium featured remarks from President Matt Branam, Vice President of Academic Affairs Phillip Cornwell and Interim Dean of Faculty Bill Kline. There was also presentations by faculty members earning the title of professor in their academic specialties. These professors were Thomas Adams, mechanical engineering; Galen Duree, physics and optical engineering; Glen Livesay, applied biology and biomedical engineering; J.P. Mellow, computer science and software engineering; David Rader, mathematics; Anneliese Watt, English; and Ed Wheeler, electrical and computer engineering.