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September 2020


  • Surveys of Attendees of ASEE’s Virtual Annual Conference in June Show What Concerned Educators Most During Lockdown

Sponsored Content: NCEES

  • NCEES Subject Matter Reports Distributed to All ABET-Accredited Programs


  • Climate Change Instruction Will be Required in N.J. Schools

Sponsored Content: NYU

  • The Ad Observatory


  • Study Finds Ethics Training at Top Engineering Schools is a Mixed Bag
  • A Hands-on 3-D Printing Course that Includes Outreach to Local Schools Proves Successful

Sponsored Content: Siemens

  • Free Classroom Curriculum Downloads


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


  • New ASEE Publication
  • DELTA Future Faculty Institute: Coming October 2020
  • How Boise State University Provides Engineering Students with Remote Access to Applications and Desktops
  • Upcoming Webinars
  • National Science Foundation News


By Carolyn Wilson

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students, faculty, and staff were forced in March to make a transition within a week to working or studying from home. They had to create new at-home workspaces and shift all coursework and research to online platforms. This rapid change required all faculty, staff, and students to confront a variety of challenges in order to finish out the academic year.

During ASEE’s 2020 Annual Conference, held virtually in June, multiple panels and conversations focused on how well faculty and university leadership had handled the transition, as well as attendees’ concerns looking ahead to the fall semester. Based on these discussions, ASEE developed a survey to learn what attendees had experienced as a result of the pandemic. The survey presented quotations describing various effects of the pandemic on attendees’ professional and personal lives and steps they had taken in response. The quotations covered instruction, conduct of research, finances, institutional operations, concerns about the workforce, and concerns about their own and others’ personal wellbeing. Attendees noted whether the statements matched their experiences or plans.  

Table 1 displays statements written for university administrators and leadership, including department heads, deans, and directors. Their responses showed that a large majority of this group were preoccupied with: providing necessary equipment and other support to students and faculty as they transitioned to online coursework (70% yes); rethinking policies and procedure for online instruction (80% yes); providing new online tools and software for instruction (71% yes); finding tools to help manage motivation and work/life balance concerns (76% yes); and offering multiple modes of communication for everyone (76% yes).

Table 2 displays the statements written for engineering faculty. The quotations that drew the most agreement centered around student support through redesigning courses for online instruction (88% yes); rethinking course designs for fall semester (88% yes); offering multiple modes of communication for students (80% yes); and investigating methods to increase student engagement (88% yes). Some faculty also dealt with changes to their research plans, closure of their lab spaces, work/life balance issues, and concern for their job security.

(Data were collected by ASEE’s Institutional Research and Analytics office and funded by NSF-EEC Award #1748840.)

Table 1: University Administrator Experiences on COVID-19 Response

Table 2: Faculty Experiences on COVID-19 Response

Sponsored Content

NCEES Subject Matter Reports Distributed to All ABET-Accredited Programs

How well do your students measure up against their peers from other ABET-accredited programs?

Hundreds of engineering educators just received their school’s NCEES Subject Matter Reports. Distributed biannually each January and July, the reports provide in-depth analyses of how students performed on the FE exam relative to peers from other ABET-accredited programs.

As the only nationwide engineering exam designed for college seniors, the FE exam is an excellent source for feedback on how well students meet the outcomes prescribed by accreditation criteria.

NCEES provides a variety of resources for engineering educators to use for effective outcomes assessment.

To find out who is receiving the report for your institution, email



New Jersey is now the first state in the union to make the teaching of climate change mandatory in its public K-12 classrooms. The change will affect 1.4 million students when it comes into effect in 2021 and 2022. The State Board of Education approved the new guidelines this summer, according to CNN. The move to include climate change education in a range of content areas came after a big push from Tammy Murphy, wife of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. The state’s young people have already had first-hand experiences in dealing with the effects of a warming climate. New Jersey has endured superstorms, shrinking coastlines, algae blooms, and extremely hot summers. “This generation of students will feel the effects of climate change more than any other,” the state’s first lady said in a statement after the measure was passed. “And it is critical that every student is provided an opportunity to study and understand the climate crisis through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary lens.” Battling global warming is a cornerstone of Gov. Murphy’s political agenda, CNN notes, and he wants the state to rely solely on clean energy by 2050. The climate change curriculum standards will cover seven subject areas: 21st century life and careers; comprehensive health and physical education; science; social studies; technology; visual and performing arts; and world languages. The board expects to add climate change standards to the appendices of the mathematics and language arts guidelines, which come up for review in 2022.


Sponsored Content

NYU Tandon Professor Damon McCoy and doctoral student Laura Edelson are bringing truth to political advertising with the NYU Ad Observatory, a novel online tool that helps reporters, researchers, thought leaders, policy makers, and the general public easily analyze political ads on Facebook during campaigns and ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections.

Transparency in political advertising is vital to ensuring safe and fair elections, but difficult to achieve without disclosure of funding. That information is not required for political ads on Facebook, which is used by nearly 70% of Americans, is by far the country’s leading source of news, and is the top social media destination for political advertising.

To reveal data beneath the ads, the team uses Facebook’s API and ad library reports, but enhances this information with additional coding, analysis, and features, including the ability to search by topic (like immigration), ad adjective (like donate), or total ad spend over time.

Since July 1, 2020, according to the Ad Observatory:

  1. ExxonMobil has spent over $4.7 million on political ads on Facebook, making it the second leading corporate spender
  2. Facebook, at $5.2 million, is the largest corporate funder of political ads on its own platform
  3. Candidates have spent over $85 million
  4. Nearly a quarter of official campaign ads supporting the President are messages about the media

The team also developed a crowd-sourcing tool integrated with the Ad Observatory called Ad Observer, a simple plug-in Facebook users can add to their Web browser that copies ads they see on Facebook and collects them in a public database, while protecting privacy.

The Ad Observatory lets users:

  1. Drill down to state-level rankings of political advertisers by spend
  2. View lists of funders of national and state-level advertising for presidential, U.S. House and Senate, and governor races
  3. Receive customized notifications for races they are tracking
  4. View ads using an Ad Screener tool that lets users view ads for problematic or misleading content, and contribute to improving NYU Tandon’s ability to flag that content




Because engineering projects can affect the lives of millions of people, ethical decision-making is considered an important part of every engineering program; indeed, ABET accreditation requires it. But there is no uniformity in how it’s done, according to a recent paper authored by Andrew Katz, an assistant professor of engineering education at Virginia Tech, and Umair Shakir, one of his Ph.D. students. Their paper takes a deep dive into the ethics programs at 30 top engineering schools in the U.S. and Canada. Katz and Shakir presented the paper at ASEE’s virtual annual conference in June. There’s evidence, they write, that the engineering community considers ethics to be “an essential element” of engineering training, but “how ethics education manifests itself in engineering programs is still an open question.” The study bore out the authors’ expectation that they would find wide variations in the way ethics are taught to engineers. Ethics can be taught in dedicated courses, by embedding the lessons into technical courses, or by requiring students to take a service-learning class. Some schools use engineering faculty to teach ethics; others enlist humanities instructors.

To conduct their study, the pair constructed a database of courses for the five most popular engineering disciplines—mechanical, civil, electrical and chemical engineering, and computer science—at the 30 institutions. They searched all course descriptions and titles—both required and elective courses—for the word “ethics” or some variant. They acknowledge that their method can produce false positives and negatives, but say that their results can be one of several indicators that the engineering ethics community can use to better understand the state of ethics teaching. Their research found not only that ethics teaching strategies at top schools are a mixed bag, but that a variety of methods could be found across and within disciplines. And while they turned up many positive examples of ethics-related courses or required credit hours, most schools “do not have a clear ethics requirement in their programs”—which is surprising, given ABET’s mandate. Katz and Shakir say they hope the results will be a reference point for other researchers and will be useful to administrators who want to improve their ethics programs.


Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3-D printing, is revolutionizing product design, development, and manufacturing across many sectors, but engineering schools are not graduating enough students to fill workforce needs, according to a recent paper by academics from Texas Tech, Kansas State, and California State (Northridge) universities. The paper, presented in June at ASEE’s virtual annual conference, describes the outcomes of a course in AM created by the authors and implemented over the last three years (or nine semesters) at the trio of schools. It’s a junior-level lecture/lab course that meets three times a week and teaches students the fundamentals of 3-D printing using liquid-based, power-based, and extrusion-based technologies. The authors are currently compiling their materials in a textbook. The course also includes an outreach element: During the semester, groups of students from local high schools and middle schools visit the labs to learn about AM from the undergraduates and get some hands-on experiences. Data collected by the instructors found that the course greatly improved the content knowledge of all the undergraduate students, but females improved slightly more than males. The undergraduates also gave themselves “significantly” higher self-efficacy ratings afterwards, particularly in the areas of teamwork, creativity, and technical skills. Their data also show that the class boosted the AM knowledge of the middle- and high-school students who visited the labs. Additionally, there’s anecdotal evidence that the undergraduates found teaching 3-D printing skills to younger students personally fulfilling and helpful in cementing their own foundational skills.


Sponsored Content

Free Classroom Curriculum Downloads

Get your students ready for tomorrow, today. Take advantage of our free Classroom Curriculum Downloads. Our robust selection of curricular packages are developed cooperatively by professors at our partner universities and Siemens technical experts, and include the slides, notes, exercises, video tutorials, part files and more that you need to help you empower the next generation of digital talent. These materials can be implemented as-is or integrated with your existing syllabus. They are ideal for implementing in a virtual classroom setting, too!

Prepare your students for Industry 4.0 by downloading today!

To learn more about what Siemens can do for you, check out the links below:
> Educator Webinars
> Free Student Software Downloads
> Learning Advantage Free Software Training


Job-hunting? Here are a few current openings:

1. Mechanical and Energy Engineering - 4 listings

2. Multiple Engineering Disciplines - 2 listings

Visit here for details:



COVER: HEADS OF THE CLASS—Engineering educators turned university leaders are confronting critical issues such as COVID-19 and racial injustice, while putting their engineering problem-solving skills to use.

FEATURE: ETHICS EDUCATION—The topic can be dry, but these innovators are using TV, science fiction stories, and a role-playing simulation to engage their students.



Read the "Strategic Investments Summit" meeting summary. The event addressed constraints impeding participation in government-funded research and laid a foundation for a set of administrative support tools and knowledge required for universities to build research capacity and success. A proposed National Center for Sponsored Research would carry out (1) institutional support of research; (2) grant and contract administration; (3) scholarly work; and (4) institutional faculty support. 


Considering a career as an engineering faculty member? Register for the ASEE DELTA Future Faculty Institute, a three-part, instructor-led online course providing tools and knowledge to positively launch your career. Classes are Oct 14, 21, and Nov 4. View complete program details and register today — seating is limited.


Sponsored by Amazon Web Services in Partnership with ASEE
There are benefits to empowering students (on or off campus) to access course-required applications and desktops from any device, anytime, from anywhere. Boise State uses Amazon AppStream 2.0 to provide students access to apps they need for engineering courses, whether they're using Macs, Chromebooks, or PCs, and whether they're in the classroom, the library, a cafe, or at home. A webinar is scheduled for September 24, 2-3 p.m., ET. Register Now!


The Future Has Spoken – Listening to the Data to Drive Forward-Looking Strategies
September 29 at 2:00 PM EDT
ASEE’s Norman Fortenberry will explore issues shaping the future of engineering education and Tandilyn Morrel will connect these larger trends to the data she’s collected at the Texas A&M College of Engineering. 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 programs. Register online.

Alternative Assessment Methods
October 1 at 11 AM EDT
Looking for assessment methods that go beyond multiple-choice tests? Tune into this webinar to explore three non-traditional assessment methods that can potentially better measure your students’ capabilities to solve problems and think creatively. Register online.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is seeking STEM faculty and researchers to serve as application reviewers for the 2021 Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) competition. Serving as a GRFP reviewer is an excellent opportunity to apply research and career expertise to help identify future science and engineering leaders. Reviewers gain firsthand knowledge of the GRFP review process and receive valuable insight on the NSF Merit Review process. For more information and to register, please visit For full consideration for the 2021 competition, interested individuals should register by October 15, 2020.

On behalf of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) and in coordination with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released a Request for Information (RFI) on STEM Education.
This RFI is open to the public. 

Please note:

  1. The RFI on STEM Education references the Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan, released December 2018.
  2. Respondents can provide comments to any questions they wish. They do not need to respond to all the questions.
  3. Responses need to be submitted to in a Word or PDF format per the RFI’s instructions.
  4. Members of the public who have questions can direct them to Cindy Hasselbring, Assistant Director, STEM Education, OSTP. Her contact information is located in the RFI.
  5. The RFI will close on October 19, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., ET.


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