CHEMS Faculty Member Participates in National Academy of Engineering Symposium

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November 28, 2011

S. Patrick Walton, an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, was among 65 of the nation's most innovative young engineering educators selected to take part in the National Academy of Engineering's third Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) symposium.

Early-career faculty members who are developing and implementing innovative educational approaches in a variety of engineering disciplines came together Nov. 13-16 in Irvine, Calif., to share ideas, learn from research and best practices in education, and leave with a charge to improve educational practice at their home institution. The attendees were nominated by fellow engineers or deans and chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants.

"The Frontiers of Engineering Education program creates a unique venue for engineering faculty members to share and explore interesting and effective innovations in teaching and learning, says NAE president Charles M. Vest. We want FOEE to become a major force in identifying, recognizing, and promulgating advances and innovations in order to build a strong intellectual infrastructure and commitment to 21st-century engineering education.

The 2011 program focused on teaching leading-edge engineering knowledge, project-based learning, active and self-directed learning, and assessment of student learning and educational innovations.

In our increasingly global and competitive world, the United States needs to marshal its resources to address the strategic shortfall of engineering leaders in the next decades, says Edward F. Crawley, Ford professor of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chair of the FOEE planning committee. By holding this event, we have recognized some of the finest young engineering educators in the nation, and will better equip them to transform the educational process at their universities.

For Walton, the symposium offered an opportunity to learn more about innovations being undertaken by faculty members across the country. The FOEE provided a venue to share ideas and spread these innovations broadly for the benefit of engineering students across the country, says Walton. Improving engineering education practice, from attracting students, to retaining them, to training them in the most effective manner, is a very difficult problem. We need as many faculty members invested in the process as possible."

Walton was the only faculty member chosen from Michigan and one of nine from Big Ten universities. The 2011 Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium was sponsored by the Donnell Foundation.

The National Academy of Engineering is an independent, nonprofit institution that serves as an adviser to government and the public on issues in engineering and technology. Its members consist of the nation's premier engineers, who are elected by their peers for their distinguished achievements. Established in 1964, NAE operates under the congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.