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August 2020


  • Engineering Students Fuel Graduate Enrollment Growth Over Last Decade

Sponsored Content: Liaison/

  • The Future Has Spoken: Listening to the Data to Drive Forward-Looking Strategies


  • A Time to Experiment


  • NSB Meeting Hears Recommendations to Tackle Racism Within Science and Engineering
  • Newly-Enrolled Foreign Students Still Face a Visa Ban If All Their Classes are Online


  • What’s on Tap in the September 2020 Issue of Prism?


  • Classified Information

  • 2020 ABET Award Winners Announced

  • Replacing Implicit Bias: Recognize, Reconsider, and Respond


By Angela Erdiaw-Kwasie

This Databyte highlights the enrollment of graduate students in science, engineering, and health (SEH) fields over the last decade.

Using data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering, we compared the growth of enrollment of graduate students (masters and doctoral students) in engineering to that of graduate students in science and health fields from 2009 to 2018.

SEH graduate enrollment in the United States reached a little over 668,000 in 2018, an increase of about 5.8% since 2009. Most of this growth occurred within the science and engineering fields in the 2000s. Enrollments remained stable between 2009 and 2013 and resumed growth in 2014. Enrollments in the health field declined from 85,960 in 2009 to 64,703 in 2013 and then resumed growth in 2014.

Figure 1 shows the percentage increase in the growth of SEH graduate enrollments over the decade. The science field has contributed to over 50% of the enrollment numbers. However, engineering experienced the highest percent growth over the decade at 12.9%. The percent growth of enrollments in science fields was 7.8%, and the percent decline of enrollments within health fields was 15.4%.

Table 1 displays all full-time graduate enrollments and all first-time, full-time graduate enrollments in the science, engineering, and health fields over the decade. SEH first-time, full-time graduate enrollments have increased fairly steadily over the decade. In 2018, first-time, full-time graduate enrollments accounted for almost 33% of total full-time SEH graduate enrollments. These students are typically pursuing a master’s or a doctoral degree right after or within approximately a year after earning their undergraduate degree. In engineering, 32% of the full-time graduate enrollments in 2018 were first-time, full-time students.

Source: NSF’s Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering


Table 1: Enrollment in Science, Engineering, and Health Fields

Sponsored Content

The Future Has Spoken: Listening to the Data to Drive Forward-Looking Strategies

According to a recent EDUCAUSE report, 69% of leaders in higher education place a priority on data analytics; however, the vast majority of these institutions are only using this information for credentialing and reporting. In order to make better and more strategic decisions, graduate engineering programs need to take advantage of new technologies and practices that can translate this valuable data into insightful reports.

On September 29th, engineering admissions leaders will present a live webinar, “The Future Has Spoken: Listening to the Data to Drive Forward-Looking Strategies.” As engineering programs look to rebound from diminishing international applications and widespread economic uncertainty, the ability to recognize trends in real time and make strategic decisions has never been more urgent.

Presenters will explore the issues shaping the future of engineering education, then connect these larger trends to data they’re collecting at their institutions. Attendees will learn new strategies for leveraging national and institutional data to inform forward-looking decisions around targeting the right applicants, improving yield and increasing diversity in your program.

This webinar is presented in partnership between the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and EngineeringCAS™, the first and only Centralized Application Service (CAS™) for graduate engineering programs. Learn more about the benefits of joining the EngineeringCAS Community at

Most of the information you need to recruit and enroll your next engineering class already exists and is waiting to be put to good use. When you’re ready to take your analytics strategy to the next level, register for “The Future Has Spoken: Listening to the Data to Drive Forward-Looking Strategies.”



The Widespread Adoption of Online Learning Allows Educators to Shift from Telling to Mentoring and Mediating

By Chris Rogers

This spring has been rather unique in the history of education, with millions of teachers suddenly grappling with how to teach students virtually. Many have embraced videoconferencing technologies such as Zoom, Webex, and Hangouts, but I have found a different set of tools to be more compelling.

Videoconferencing systems, while impressive, presume that students all own computers, have robust Internet connections, and live in the same time zone. That may hold true in many cases, since schools have been sending students home with laptops, Internet providers are offering free trial months, and different time zones aren’t a factor in most K-12 systems. There are a lot of exceptions, however.

I have seen more and more teachers think about asynchronous models for their students. Suddenly the question changes from, “What can I tell them?” to “What can I put in place to help them learn?” Engineering classes are particularly great places to experiment with the shift from telling to mentoring. A fluids class can pivot from lecturing about Bernoulli’s equation to students sharing examples of venturis around their house and attempting to model the behavior.

This means that the instructor now must find or create support material to answer questions students might have in the modeling process and provide a virtual area to share the results. In other words, the teacher becomes more of a mediator of discussions than a teller of information.

There are many offerings that can help turn the class from a synchronous lecture to an asynchronous learning environment. Among them: frequently-asked-question tools like Stack Overflow; communication and organization tools such as Slack; online collaboration environments, including Onshape, Overleaf, Colab, and Google Docs (or Microsoft Office 365); and the vast resources on YouTube.

At Tufts, a few faculty members have been running a four-course graduate certificate program for in-service K–12 teachers ( online and asynchronously for the past five years. Teachers in the program take courses in engineering content and engineering pedagogy, entirely asynchronously and yet still project-based and hands-on. Using robotic kits (shipped to them) and digital video tools (like TORSH Talent), the classes discuss what students say as they are starting to think and sound like engineers. The online instruction has taken a significant investment—from creating media-rich resources to iterating grading policies and pedagogical structures that fit into the lives of busy, working teachers. However, the investment allows all teachers to participate, wherever they are, and pays dividends as elements of content are perfected and reused and instructional time is used to discuss the teachers’ thinking and ideas.

The new digital environment probably will share elements of the future workplace for which we are preparing graduates. It also presents an interesting research question about the impact on learning. Will students take a greater leadership role in their learning, or will they feel like they are drowning? How will we assess their progress? What will happen to the standard exam when people are asynchronous and remote? Will we develop artificial intelligence technology to reduce cheating? Or will we move away from questions with right and wrong answers in favor of projects and reports? Standardized exams (from state tests to the ACT and SAT) were canceled for the spring semester. Could this fuel a change in the exams or even the college application process?

Even more intriguing is the potential long-term impact of this worldwide switch in how we teach. Will instructors revert to the synchronous lecture, or will a hybrid model emerge that allows students to opt for virtual, asynchronous sections? Imagine how that could change the study abroad experience; students could still take those one or two unique courses back at their home institutions in times of crisis. Athletes who need to break for tournaments would similarly benefit. And taking courses at sister schools would be easier, with more plentiful offerings. Can we do a better job of merging the asynchronous MOOC with the synchronous hands-on classroom?

Education does not seem to change fast, but I think it would be exciting if this global introduction to forced online learning served as a catalyst for more experimentation at all grade levels. The result could be a powerful new blend of in-person, online, and asynchronous instruction that empowers students to become lifelong learners.


Chris Rogers is a professor of mechanical engineering at Tufts University.



A panel of Black scientists and engineers told the National Science Board during its July meeting about the challenges they’ve faced in their careers, Lewis-Burke Associates reports. The issues they raised included intersectionality, retention and promotion policies, and specific acts of racist and unfair treatment they’ve encountered. The panel discussion was part of an effort by the NSB—which sets policy for the National Science Foundation—to make good on a pledge it made in June to confront racism in science and engineering. Additionally, the panelists made a number of recommendations to the board to help dismantle those hurdles. They included more partnerships between Historically Black Colleges and Universities and primarily White institutions; doing more to ensure the NSF’s merit-review process ensures transparency and an ability to address biased judgements; bringing back supplements for researchers to use to hire more underrepresented minorities; increasing research funding at HBCU institutions; and educating the public to understand that inclusivity and excellence are not mutually exclusive. Board members made recommendations as well, including better mechanisms for anonymous reporting of racist issues and increasing the diversity of NSF program directors. Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, who started June 23 as NSF director, also announced the creation of a Racial Equity Task Force to address racial barriers in the agency. Individual directorates within the NSF are also considering their own communities and programs, Lewis-Burke says.


As we reported last month, the Trump administration, under pressure from the higher-education community, numerous states, and the high-tech industry, backed off a rule change that would have nixed the visas of all international students attending U.S. universities and colleges this fall if 100 percent of their courses were online. Several schools, including Harvard and MIT, were suing to stop the rule. Opponents of the rule welcomed the White House decision to ditch the change, but the administration didn’t fully backtrack on its plans. Foreign students already enrolled in U.S. schools will be allowed to take all their classes online. But the government won’t issue visas for newly-enrolled students taking online-only courses. For schools like Harvard, which is putting all of its undergraduate courses online this autumn because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, freshman classes won’t include foreign students. According to NPR, enrollment for new international students could plummet 63 to 98 percent from last year’s totals, based on analysts’ projections, because of travel bans.


Job-hunting? Check out this opportunity on ASEE’s Classifieds Website.

Mechanical Engineering - 1 opportunity



COVER: VIRTUAL REALITY—Educators found creative substitutes for hands-on learning as the pandemic forced teaching online.

FEATURE: SHERYL SORBY—Early experiences shaped the 2020–2021 ASEE president’s approach to inclusion.

FEATURE: FRESH PERSPECTIVES—ASEE Virtual Conference participants shared their creative works on a #craftingwhileconferencing Slack channel.

Credit: Vanessa Svihla/University of New Mexico



You probably already know that you can you post job opportunities in ASEE classified advertising. But wait, there’s more. You can also post announcements for upcoming webinars, workshops, conferences, and congratulatory and in memoriam announcements.

Learn more about how to place an ad.


ABET—the global accreditor of college and university programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology—recently announced the winners of the 2020 ABET Awards. Each year, ABET honors exceptional efforts by individuals, institutions, and organizations through four awards: the Linton E. Grinter Distinguished Service Award, the Fellow of ABET Award, the Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion, and the ABET Innovation Award. This year’s award recipients are as follows:

Fellow of ABET Awards (all are ASEE members)

1 Ronald J. Bennett, Ph.D. – 3M Thwaits Fellow and Professor Emeritus for the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas

2 Patricia Brackin, Ph.D. – Professor and Director of Engineering Design at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

3 Jeffrey W. Fergus, Ph.D. – Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Program Assessment and Professor of Materials Engineering in the Samuel Grinn College of Engineering at Auburn University

4 Donna S. Reese, Ph.D. – Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Mississippi State University (retired)

Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion

Ambareen Siraj, Ph.D. – Professor of Computer Science and the Founding Director of Tennessee Tech’s Cybersecurity Education, Research, and Outreach Center (CEROC); Founder of the Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) organization, an initiative to recruit, retain, and advance women in cybersecurity

ABET Innovation Award

IT Students Capacity Building Program by Integrated Southern Tagalog Association of IT Education (iSITE) – For providing collaborative industry-aligned seminars, training, and conferences to students in geographically dispersed IT programs and promoting opportunities for students to interact, learn, and showcase their work.

ABET did not confer a Linton E. Grinter Distinguished Service Award in 2020. “We are proud to showcase the accomplishments of the 2020 ABET Award recipients,” said ABET Executive Director and CEO Michael K. J. Milligan. “This year’s honorees have demonstrated exceptional volunteer commitment, achieved extraordinary success in diversity, and made significant contributions to innovations in education. We are inspired by their achievements and dedication.” The winners will be honored at the 2020 ABET Awards Celebration, which will be held as a virtual event on October 31.


This October 28 instructor-led online workshop is for educators, administrators, and staff who seek to better understand, recognize, and respond to implicit bias in academic settings. During this workshop, participants will learn the role that biases play in academic settings, how to recognize common expressions of bias, and how to interrupt biases when they occur. Access more information and register.


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