“Our primary mission is to build a community of graduate and undergraduate students through national programming and resources, and through local support of student chapters on campuses across the country,” says Alexandra Coso, Chair of the Student Division of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). “We help students who are interested in engineering education find community and resources to pursue their interests,” she says. 2012 saw the Student Division recognized as a full division of ASEE for the first time, and also served as the most active year for the Student Division at ASEE’s annual conference.
Members of the Student Division joined together with other student groups like the Student Platform for Engineering Education and Development (SPEED) and the Graduate Engineering Education Consortium for Students (GEECS) to run a booth connecting students to a complete package of resources. Students also participated in a poster session presenting research they’re doing “on the side” where they didn’t have to submit an accompanying paper to get feedback. This session in particular helped to “take away another barrier for students interested in research in engineering education,” says Coso, since there are usually limited funds associated with side projects. This year’s conference also featured a student panel on getting started in engineering education research with a focus on how to implement education research in the classroom.
The Student Division also strives to bring “practical research relevant to people from all backgrounds” to the annual ASEE conference, says Coso, who mentions papers presented on “being a TA” and “being an engineer and an athlete” as examples of non-traditional, engineering-themed topics covered this year.
The Student Division, started in 2007, gives students a voice and a home within the larger ASEE organization. The first student dinner, hosted at the 2009 ASEE conference, brought together 56 students and created “lasting ties, connections and collaborations,” says Coso, who was in attendance. In 2012, over 100 students from both the U.S. and Canada attended the convention dinner and built “really great connections.”
The Student Division’s goals for this year focus on enhancing the network of students and student chapters across the country through increasing membership, strengthening collaboration with industry, and working more with other student groups to enhance cross-platform networking and education. Coso strives to really “meet the needs of our population” whether that be educating members about ways they can use their engineering/engineering education degree in the real world, or simply sharing best practices from one local chapter to another. Currently there are 400 members of the ASEE Student Division but there are over 800 student members of ASEE, so finding out what needs the Student Division can meet to bring student members in is a huge priority.
Groups like the Student Division provide a place that faculty can point students to in order to connect with others who really care about teaching engineering, in addition to the practical implications of an engineering and engineering education degree. Coso says this trend in engineering education research is “extremely exciting” and will lead to a continual improvement in engineering education overall.