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Senior Thomas Foulkes Helping ASEE Shape the Future of Undergraduate Engineering Education

Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Thomas Foulkes working in a lab.

Enriching Research Experiences: Thomas Foulkes has completed research opportunities throughout his undergraduate career, and received a Tau Beta Pi graduate fellowship to study power electronics and applied electromagnetics at the University of Illinois.

A variety of research opportunities enhanced Thomas Foulkes' classroom academic experiences at Rose-Hulman, and could play an important role in helping transform the undergraduate engineering education for future students.

That's the message the senior electrical engineering student will take to Washington, D.C., this weekend (April 10-11) as member of a select group of 40 engineering students participating in an American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) workshop that's developing a vision for the future of engineering education.

Supported by the National Science Foundation, ASEE launched a multi-phase sequence of meetings with different stakeholders to provide a clear understanding of the knowledge, skills, and abilities next generation engineering graduates should possess, and the changes that will be needed to instill those qualities.

The first phase of the Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering workshop surveyed professional engineers from industry and identified the 36 most important attributes required for success in engineering. Now, Foulkes will join students from throughout the United States in providing insights from tomorrow's engineers.

"As a freshman, I was uncertain how engineers used their knowledge to tackle real-world problems," Foulkes says. "In addition to a strong engineering education, Rose-Hulman has provided me opportunities to put my skills into practice with undergraduate research."

Rose-Hulman's Independent Project/Research Opportunities Program (IPROP) has provided Foulkes and other students the opportunity to engage in application-based research, and develop their technical intuition and entrepreneurial spirit. Foulkes also worked on projects in asteroid photometry and magneto-optic phenomena in pulsed magnetic fields.


Student Advocate: Thomas Foulkes, a senior electrical engineering major, is among 40 students participating in the American Society of Engineering Education's Transforming Undergraduate Education in Engineering workshop on April 10-11 in Washington, D.C. (Photos by Shawn Spence)

"Since an entrepreneurial spirit comprises more than just the desire to start a new company, undergraduate research opportunities have the unique capability of teaching students how to take risks effectively, while characterizing novel technology that aligns with real-world customer demand," Foulkes remarks.

Foulkes' undergraduate research experiences have helped him gain a 2015-2016 graduate fellowship from Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. He will attend graduate school at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, studying power electronics and applied electromagnetics. Tau Beta Pi fellowships are awarded on the basis of high scholarship, campus leadership, service, and promise for future contributions to the engineering profession.

At Rose-Hulman, Foulkes has earned numerous academic honors, and has made 16 technical presentations at regional and national science conferences. He serves as president of the Blue Key national honor society chapter, and helps organize activities for the institute's Explore Engineering program, which strives to attract middle- and high-school students toward careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Foulkes' summers have been filled with internships in engineering research and design at Delphi Safety and Electronics, and as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.

"Rose-Hulman has provided me with wonderful opportunities and the skillset to tackle real-world problems. The unique campus culture fosters a place for engineers to create innovative ideas and to share what they're learning," he says. "Rose-Hulman has a campus atmosphere where you never stop learning. The professors help students explore their horizons and realize how they can contribute to the engineering profession. It's an atmosphere that gets the best out of each student."