Three engineering faculty selected for NAE's Frontiers of Engineering Education
Three Engineering at Illinois faculty members—Timothy Bretl, Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider, and Matthew West—are among the nation's most innovative engineering educators selected to take part in the National Academy of Engineering’s eighth Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) symposium.
In total, 48 faculty members who are developing and implementing innovative educational approaches in a variety of engineering disciplines will come together for the 2-1/2-day event, where they can share ideas, learn from research and best practice in education, and leave with a charter to bring about improvement at their home institution.
"The goal of the Frontiers of Engineering Education program is to strengthen U.S. innovation by nurturing and catalyzing the insights of education leaders on today’s 21st century engineering education needs,” said NAE President C. D. Mote, Jr. “The program builds this community of engaged engineering educators as a resource committed to the preparation of engineering students for today’s engineering world.”
Bretl, an associate professor and associate head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, has been the recipient of several teaching awards within the College. His lab conducts basic research in areas that include electrodiagnostic analysis of brain and muscle activity and control-theoretic analysis of dexterous manipulation and legged locomotion. By joining these two distinct research areas—robotics and neuroscience—they are developing affordable prosthetic devices, increasing the efficiency and safety of building construction, and lowering barriers to the use of robots for manufacturing automation by small businesses.
Fagen-Ulmschneider is a teaching assistant professor in computer science, focusing primarily on teaching the core CS curriculum. Most of his current research projects are either part of classroom.js—an open-source classroom engagement system—or on cross-department collaborations where applied computing can further the research of another field. In recent semesters, he has focused on the outward facing courses that CS offers to non-CS majors across campus.
West, an associate professor, joined the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering in 2008. Within the College, he has been recognized for his innovative teaching methods, and he was part of a team that led a $2 million NSF WIDER (Widening Implementation & Demonstration of Evidence Based Reforms) study to investigate best practices for STEM education reform. His own research interests include asynchronous and structure-preserving integrators, stochastic simulation and uncertainty quantification, and multi-scale and multi-physics simulations. He has investigated the use of computers to simulate problems with fluids and boundaries--such as droplets in an engine injector system or the inflation of gas inside an airbag—work that significantly impact both energy efficiency and clean combustion in automobiles, as well as transportation safety.
The Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium provides a forum for creative engineering educators to generate novel approaches, share early implementation schemes, establish a national network, and serve as change agents in their home institutions. The attendees were nominated by NAE members and engineering deans and chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants. The symposium will be held Sep. 25-28 in Irvine, Calif.