Campus & Community

Stevens hosts the 2020 Fall Meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education Mid-Atlantic Section

Student-centricity and innovative design curriculum are keys to engineering education

During the 2020 Fall Meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Mid-Atlantic Section, faculty, administrators, and students from Stevens and regional universities and colleges exchanged ideas for addressing engineering education challenges.

ASEE, a non-profit organization providing leadership in innovative programs and services in engineering and education, held this year’s Mid-Atlantic Section Fall Meeting in a virtual format, with Stevens serving as the event’s host. ASEE’s Mid-Atlantic Section is comprised of members from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

The theme of the conference was “Student Centricity: how we teach, what we teach, who we teach.” Topics discussed during the virtual event centered on pedagogy, curriculum, and diversity and outreach, and on addressing the challenges of a fast-changing engineering education landscape, with a focus on virtual teaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speakers and presenters included faculty, administrators, and students from various universities and colleges in ASEE’s Mid-Atlantic Section. Steve Mara, associate teaching professor at the Johns Hopkins University, and winner of the section’s 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award, delivered the distinguished lecture, where he shared his experience working in engineering education.

Student-centricity, innovative programs, and design curriculum help students succeed

In her welcome address, Jean Zu, dean of Stevens’ Schaefer School of Engineering & Science, highlighted Stevens’ recent engineering education innovations, including the newly revamped engineering curriculum. The curriculum is currently in the implementation stage and will start in the fall 2021 semester.

Zu also highlighted some of the innovative programs that demonstrate Stevens’s core mission: to educate and empower tomorrow’s technological innovators and leaders with strong fundamentals, broad base knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a global perspective.

Examples include the iSTEM@Stevens program, which provides students an entrepreneurial track for students with a natural talent for innovation, starting from high school. Zu also noted Accessing Careers in Engineering and Science (ACES), a program that promotes diversity in Stevens’ student body by recruiting underserved and underrepresented minority students interested in pursuing an engineering education. The program also provides scholarship and mentorship opportunities for students.

“The conference was a great opportunity to showcase Stevens’ focus on student-centricity as well as to share all the exciting and innovative work we are doing to benefit our students. It is also a chance to get feedback on these ideas and to learn how other faculty in our area are working to solve similar challenges in their programs,” said Alexander De Rosa, teaching associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens.

De Rosa co-chaired the conference with Frank Fisher, professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens. Fisher shared Stevens’ history of linking science and technology in engineering education and discussed the advantages of the school’s innovative design curriculum.

“We attribute our student achievements to the rigorous design spine,” said Fisher during the meeting. “Our students have so much exposure and experience with design that, by the time they hit senior year, they’re really prepared to experience some very amazing achievements with their design projects.”

Exploring online engineering education challenges

The frenzied pivot to online learning for schools due to COVID-19 has caused disruptions in engineering teaching and learning at colleges and universities. The panel discussion, “Navigating the Online Assessment Environment,” allowed faculty, administrators, and students to share ideas and solutions to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The panel’s moderator, Mishah Salman, teaching associate professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens, posed questions to five different panelists:

  • Kaitlin Mallouk, assistant professor in experiential engineering education at Rowan University

  • Nikki Bosca, assistant director, Office of Digital Learning at New Jersey Institute of Technology

  • Dirk Martin Luchtenburg, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Cooper Union

  • Russell Trafford, lecturer in electrical and computer engineering and Ph. D. student at Rowan University

  • Zamin Akmal, undergraduate student in biomedical engineering and chair of the Honor Board at Stevens.

The panelists discussed and debated some of the impacts of more recently prominent online tutoring services used by engineering students. They explored the implications of the services on engineering education and how it may be changing the education field, especially at the college level.

The meeting also featured research paper sessions and workshops highlighting innovative, student-centric teaching methods.

Recordings of the meeting sessions, including the welcome address, panel talk, paper tracks, workshops, and awards presentation can be found on the 2020 Fall ASEE Mid-Atlantic Section Meeting website: