Free ticketed event
This workshop is for design educators at all levels who want to enhance their courses by drawing on the latest research about engineering work. The workshop leaders will share findings from their longitudinal study that followed approximately a hundred engineers from industry-oriented capstone design classes at four different universities through the first year of work. The data includes weekly survey data from these new engineers' first three months on the job, as well as interviews at three, six, and twelve months of work. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to read narratives, explore an interactive data dashboard, and learn about new engineers' workplace activities, challenges, and strategies for making a successful transition. The research team will share findings that focus on areas where the capstone course did and didn’t prepare these new engineers for work, highlight key transferable skills, identify areas for enhancement, and note potentially unbridgeable differences. Workshop participants will have opportunities to iteratively identify aspects of their own courses that map to the challenges and strategies seen in our study population and to identify areas for improving or enhancing their courses as they explore the data and results from this project. Participants will also receive materials that can be adapted to their own design courses to help their own students better prepare for engineering practice.
Dr. Kotys-Schwartz's education and professional background are rooted in manufacturing engineering. After working as an Advanced Manufacturing Engineer, she focused her research efforts on polymer processing. Dr. Kotys-Schwartz's current research endeavors center on engineering education, specifically on how students learn design in engineering. Her research aims to add to the body of knowledge in three research areas identified by the Engineering Education Research Colloquies: Engineering Learning Mechanisms Research, Engineering Diversity and Inclusiveness Research, and Engineering Learning Systems.
Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). She received a B.S. in chemical engineering and an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on communication and collaboration, design education, and identity (including race, gender, class, etc.) in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, teamwork, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing pedagogies on personal and professional identities, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering. When not at work, she can be found pulling weeds in her garden or bicycling the back roads of Craig County, VA.
I serve as one of the two teachers for the senior design classes (ME4015, ME4016) in the Mechanical Engineering Department. I also act as the faculty advisor to the senior design teams who are sponsored by our industry partners. A major focus is identifying and securing partnerships with the industry sponsors and managing those relationships. Internally, my goal is to help the students understand what real-world engineering projects look like so they are better prepared for future success.
Susannah Howe coordinates and teaches the capstone engineering design course. Since joining the Smith faculty in 2003, she has coached numerous student design teams across a wide range of engineering disciplines and collaborated with multiple sponsoring organizations from both industry and government. Her favorite part of the job is working with students during their senior year and being part of their transition into life after Smith. She stays in contact with many engineering alumnae and hosts many of them back on campus as guest speakers in the capstone course.
Howe’s current research focuses on innovations in engineering design education, particularly at the capstone level. She has been instrumental in connecting the engineering capstone community nationwide; she is integrally involved in the Capstone Design Conferences (co-chairing in 2010 and 2012) and is helping lead an initiative to develop an online repository for capstone practices and resources. She is also involved with efforts to foster design learning in middle and high school students and to support entrepreneurship at primarily undergraduate institutions. Her background is in civil engineering with a focus on structural materials; she holds a bachelor of science in engineering degree from Princeton, and master in engineering and doctoral degree from Cornell University.
Her Smith service both past and present spans multiple committees and advisory boards, including the Administrative Board, the Jandon Center for Community Collaboration, the Lewis Global Studies Center, the Sherrerd Center for Teaching and Learning, the Committee on Educational Technology, the College Council on Community Policy, the Committee for Faculty Compensation and Development and the Program for the Study of Women and Gender. She advises the Society for Women Engineers student organization, serves as the director of honors in engineering, and assists the Conway Center staff to coordinate entrepreneurial activities at Smith and regionally. She is also currently serving as the sophomore class dean.
Howe and her husband, Nick, a professor of computer science at Smith, have two teenagers: son Ben and daughter Rowan. The kids participate in many sports and artistic activities, and the family enjoys traveling (when possible!) and tackling house projects. Howe runs regularly on both road and trail with their family dog Indy, a black retriever mix. She also makes time for musical endeavors, including playing a bright red baritone saxophone with the Bad News Jazz and Blues Orchestra.