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July 2021


  • Pieces of the Engineering Pie


  • NASA Administrator Envisions Annual Lunar Landings


  • Stress Test


  • To Build More Inclusive Learning Environments, Listen to Students


  • DELTA New Faculty Institute
  • Submit to Prism’s Last Word Column
  • Prism Seeks New Student Columnist
  • ASEE Presents Preparing the Workforce for Industry 4.0
  • Essentials of Effective Instruction
  • Online Vaccine Science Resources

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In 2017, the Trump administration approved NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the moon later this decade. Earlier this year, the Biden White House also endorsed the plan, putting the relaunch of a U.S. lunar mission on a smooth and secure flight path. Now Bill Nelson, NASA’s administrator, says the plan is for lunar landings to become annual affairs. In recent testimony before the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Nelson said, “We want to have these sustained landings over a dozen years, and that’s going to cost some money.” Last year, NASA asked Congress for $3.4 billion for human spaceflight exploration, but lawmakers appropriated just $850 million. For NASA’s 2022 fiscal budget, the Biden administration is seeking $24.8 billion, or a 6.6 percent increase over this year’s level. However, there’s an amendment to the current budget working its way through Congress to give NASA another $10 billion for the Artemis project. The program is on hold while the Government Accountability Office reviews contests to the agency’s recent decision to award SpaceX the contract to build the landers over two rivals. That review is set to be finished August 1. Nelson says he and his two top executives, Pam Melroy and Bob Cabana, both former astronauts, are working on refreshing the Artemis plans “so that when the GAO decides on the bid protests, we can move out quickly, depending on what they decide.” Later this year, NASA plans to launch an uncrewed test flight of Artemis’ SLS rocket and Orion capsule.





Image Courtesy of Getty Images/Alexander Da Silva


Engineering educators must address the urgent issue of student mental health.

By Karin J. Jensen & Kelly J. Cross

A growing number of college students face mental health challenges. Although research on engineering students is limited, some studies suggest that these students may experience higher rates of mental health issues than their nonengineering peers, while being less likely to seek help. Our recent study contends that the narrative of rigorous engineering programs—in which students often pull all-nighters, discuss weed-out classes, and endure the “math death march”—contributes to an expectation and normalization of high stress that can be detrimental to student mental health.

Our research sought to quantify engineering students’ views of mental health challenges. We surveyed more than 1,000 undergraduate engineering students at a single institution, examining self-reported measures of stress, anxiety, depression, engineering identity, and perceptions of inclusion within engineering departments.

Participants reported moderate to extremely severe levels of stress (29 percent), anxiety (36 percent), and depression (35 percent). Female students reported higher rates of stress and anxiety than their male counterparts, while first-generation students reported higher rates of depression than their peers. In addition, we found students with higher stress, anxiety, and depression perceived lower levels of inclusion in their engineering departments. This finding underscores the importance of cultivating inclusive environments where students feel supported and valued.

In the open responses, students expressed a belief that engineering contributed to poor mental health or that poor mental health was an expectation in engineering. While our study took place prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, early research suggests that it has created and exacerbated stressors for students, further necessitating faculty members’ increased awareness.

Our research has several implications for engineering education programs. We implore engineering educators to advocate for mental health resources and training to support students and to be aware of how students from different backgrounds may experience both stress and stigma about seeking mental health help. We recommend that engineering educators consider ways their courses, policies, and dialogue regarding mental health reinforce the idea that high stress is normal and expected in engineering. Specifically, we argue that educators have a critical role in disrupting the notion that high stress is a requirement for success in engineering by actively creating inclusive cultures where all students can thrive, not just survive.

While additional research is needed on factors that influence student mental health, engineering departments and colleges can immediately adopt proactive approaches to support students. For example, generate an institutional strategic plan, develop targeted interventions for known vulnerable populations within the student body, and establish or enhance mental health and crisis prevention services to increase access to mental health professionals and reduce wait times.

Individually, engineering educators should be aware of the location of counseling centers on- and off-campus, along with the procedures for referring students. By educating ourselves about student mental health and actively listening to students and organizations—for example, campus chapters of Active Minds, a nonprofit focused on young adult mental health—we can support students facing these challenges. Engineering faculty could also incorporate mental health statements in course syllabi; share information about campus wellness events and counseling services; and normalize prioritizing wellness by integrating it into the classroom, offering mindfulness activities or stretch breaks during classes, and minimizing expectations of constant email connectivity.

The growing issue of student mental health demands our collective and individual efforts in research, resources, and advocacy. We must change the engineering culture to one that promotes mentally healthy engineers.


Karin J. Jensen is a teaching assistant professor in the department of bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign. Kelly J. Cross is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Nevada–Reno and a culturally responsive practitioner, researcher, and educational leader. This article is based on “Engineering Stress Culture: Relationships Between Mental Health, Engineering Identity, and Sense of Inclusion” in the May 2021 issue of the Journal of Engineering Education. It was also featured in the Summer 2021 issue of Prism magazine.



Giving students agency and voice can help them feel more welcome.

Opinion by Tracie Marcella Addy

During a roundtable discussion at a recent conference, my co-facilitators and I invited participants to think quietly about a time when they either felt as if they did or did not belong, or were not treated equitably. This reflective task preceded a conversation on inclusive teaching, instruction that promotes a sense of belonging and is equitable for a diverse student body. The activity invited participants to make personal connections with the topic prior to delving deeper into its significance in learning environments. It also brought to the forefront how feeling included is something we can experience in various social settings—and that we may not be aware when others feel excluded in such spaces.

Similarly, our students may have unheard experiences and perspectives on inclusion from which we can gain insights to design more equitable and welcoming STEM learning opportunities. Listening to student voices is critical for effective inclusive instruction.

A variety of instructional strategies can interweave student voices within courses and curricula to advance inclusive teaching efforts. As feasible, giving students agency to incorporate topics or projects into a course can enhance equity and engagement. For example, instructors can allow students to add readings of interest or related topics to the syllabus or encourage learners to make choices in how they complete assignments, such as a final product in a project-based learning activity.

At the beginning of the course, allowing learners to voluntarily and anonymously share details about themselves can build community and send a message to all students that they are valued. I and my team developed the “Who’s in Class?” form ( in collaboration with students, faculty, and staff members. It provides students with an outlet to share information about themselves as well as to offer their perspectives on inclusion. Instructors receive the information in aggregate to protect student privacy.

With a better understanding of the makeup of their classes, and often in partnership with their center for teaching and learning or other support office, instructors can tailor their inclusion efforts for a particular course. Students’ responses can help instructors modify small aspects to make the class more equitable and welcoming. For example, some instructors who discovered through the form that students in their class had difficulty purchasing course materials chose resources that were open access or made copies available. Additionally, instructors were often surprised by the number of hours students worked in outside employment. With that knowledge, they typically put more careful thought into course workload and assignment deadlines.

Facilitating opportunities for students to cocreate guidelines for class discussions or for group activities and projects is another way to incorporate student voices. Learners can share criteria, such as their fellow students meeting group deadlines, that would enable them to be successful in accomplishing the goals of the activity. Students can also set expectations for meeting outside of class for group projects, as well as for their individual roles and responsibilities when completing activities.

Inclusion requires ongoing intentional actions throughout a course. Giving students opportunities to share feedback on the class’s inclusiveness through an anonymous survey, available throughout the semester, can also generate helpful information. Students can be invited to offer suggestions for improvement that would enhance the inclusivity of the course. At midterm, students can be asked to anonymously share whether the course is inclusive, and the instructor can make modifications as needed.

Using their voices beyond the course level, students can also provide valuable feedback on departmental curricula. Enabling learners to give their perspectives on the diversity and breadth of content in the curriculum can be an insightful exercise. Revisions that take into account students’ perspectives have the potential to lead to improved and more equitable learning experiences and help students better identify with the course material.

While requiring humility and vulnerability, learner-centered approaches incorporating students’ voices can help us develop more inclusive STEM classes. No time is better than the present to get started.


Tracie Marcella Addy is the associate dean of teaching and learning and director of the Center for the Integration of Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship at Lafayette College, where she partners with instructors across all divisions and ranks on their teaching efforts. In addition to her center work, she actively publishes, and is a coauthor of the book What Inclusive Instructors Do: Principles and Practices for Excellence in College Teaching.

This piece was adapted from “Let’s Not Underestimate the Power of Student Voice,” a guest blog post for ASEE’s Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Read it online:


Job-hunting? Here are a few current openings:

1. Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering - 1 opportunity

2. Cooperative Education Program - 1 opportunity

3. Software Engineering - 1 opportunity

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Calling all new engineering faculty members! Are you looking for ways to improve your classroom practice and navigate the responsibilities of your position, university, and discipline? Join us this August for the DELTA New Faculty Institute, a four-part, instructor-led online program for new faculty. $750 for ASEE members. Don’t miss out–sign up today.



ASEE’s Prism magazine welcomes essay submissions for our Last Word page. These should be about 700 words plus a short bio paragraph and present an argument that generates discussion. Topics should be of interest to engineering educators, but are otherwise left up to the authors. Articles are chosen based on the importance or timeliness of the issues raised, clarity, and quality of presentation. Please email your submission either with a Word attachment or in the email text, not as a PDF, and allow at least 12 weeks for your submission to complete the review process. Every article submitted to Prism is carefully reviewed by the magazine's editorial staff. During this time, your article should not be submitted elsewhere or be under consideration by another publication. Once your submission has completed the review process, we will notify you of your acceptance or rejection for publication.

Please email submissions to Prism editor Eva Miller at



ASEE’s Prism magazine seeks a new student columnist to add their fresh perspective to its pages! The columnist should be a clear writer with strong opinions who, ideally, has at least two years left in school. The columnist will write two columns per year and receive $500 for each published article.

To apply, please email a resume, brief cover letter, and any writing samples you may have (newspapers, magazines, blogs, papers, etc.—published is preferred but not required!) to by August 16, 2021 with the subject line, “Student Columnist Application.”

Check out the latest column from our graduating student columnist, Amman Asfaw, to see what a column looks like.



Engineering is at a crossroads, from how it’s practiced in industry to how it’s taught in the classroom. New technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), nanofabrication, and the internet of things (IoT) have all shifted the engineering landscape. This event features a series of TED-like talks from industry and academic leaders, a member of the National Science Board, and other luminaries. This is THE opportunity to bring voices from academia and industry together to imagine and implement actionable outcomes during the most fluid state of education in centuries. Schools are at a crossroads, so let’s give them a roadmap. This moment will go down in history. Don’t miss it!

The event will take place in-person at Washington DC’s Historic Omni Shoreham Hotel, October 13-14, 2021.  Register here at the early-bird rate of $395. Visit the project website. We have reserved a block of rooms at the Omni Shoreham, with a single rate of $269 per night. Book rooms here.



Calling all engineering faculty! Whether you are preparing to teach for the first time, an experienced educator, or are currently pursuing a faculty career, join us for our brand-new program, Essentials of Effective Instruction, to learn best practices related to effective instruction and learning. This hands-on, instructor-led program will provide educators with the knowledge and tools needed to apply evidence-based instructional strategies in their classrooms that foster enhanced student learning and success. $450 for ASEE members. 



ASEE and other entities are partnering on the creation and distribution of educational materials developed for educators, community groups, and the public, with support from NSF. The project’s video modules explain vaccine safety and address vaccine hesitancy. The videos can be used by academics to help explain to their students why they should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Watch and share the video modules. Visit the project website



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