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ASEE Connections

June 2017




In This Issue:

Products & Programs

ASEE Promotion:

ASEE's Exclusive New "Engineering Education Suppliers Guide"
A new online resource designed specifically to help engineering educators locate products and services for the classroom and research.
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ASEE's Interactive Conference Planner for the 124th Annual Conference & Exposition
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The accompanying graphic shows enrollment over the past decade for full-time and part-time engineering students. The data come from ASEE’s Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges. Figure 1 highlights the trends in undergraduate degree level by full-time and part-time student status. Overall, there is continued growth in enrollment of full-time students.

Figure 2 highlights enrollment trends, by discipline, for full-time senior students from 2007-2016, the most recent 10 years of data. Aerospace engineering continues to show the highest level of enrollment growth for seniors. Figure 3 highlights enrollment trends for full-time freshmen in order to provide a snapshot of which engineering fields students of the future are choosing.

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Figure 3.



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Consumers can avoid pesky calls from telemarketers and debt collectors by registering their cellphone number on the Do Not Call list. But some crafty technology companies have figured out a work-around: ringless voicemail messages. Technology developed by companies like Stratics Networks can, for example, deliver messages to a cellphone’s voicemail service without actually ringing the phone, the New York Times reports. The messages can’t be blocked. Now the Federal Communications Commission is being asked to decide if ringless voice-mail messages have to comply with Do Not Call regulations. Developers and pro-business groups say they aren’t actually calls and shouldn’t face bans on telemarketing. Consumer groups, however, fear giving the ringless messages the o.k. will mean users’ voicemail boxes could be deluged with unwanted automated messages from marketers and debt collection agencies, clogging them and making it harder for users to listen to important messages, the papers says. The FCC is now in its public comments period on the matter. Stratics Networks says the technology’s been around for a decade, the Times says, and it’s mainly used for ’responsible marketing’ and by businesses like doctor’s offices and banks that need to leave important messages on customers’ phones. It’s not clear if this is a political issue, although the Times notes that the Republican National Committee vouches for the technology and calls it a free-speech issue. For what it’s worth, the commission’s membership currently includes two Republicans and one Democrat, and two seats are vacant.


Soon after President Trump yanked the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a We Are Still In coalition was launched and coordinated by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York. Part of the plan is to get states, cities and corporations to sign a pledge saying they remain committed to reaching their goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that some 180 colleges and universities had signed the pledge as of June 5, including state universities in California, Maryland, and New York and numerous private colleges. Cities and states involved include Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, California and Massachusetts. Corporate signers include Hewlett-Packard and Mars Inc. Inside Higher Ed notes that Trump’s decision particularly annoyed MIT, because he claimed MIT research backed some of his assertions for pulling out of the accord. MIT released a statement explaining that Trump’s talking points were misleading. The MIT statement said, in part: ’The relevant MIT researchers believe that the Paris Agreement is an unprecedented and vital effort by nearly 200 countries to respond to the urgent threat of global climate change.’




Unstable Equilibrium

Express yourself! Engineering involves more than just understanding and applying core concepts.

By Mel Chua

There’s a subtle but important difference between these two statements:

  • I'm learning about engineering.
  • I'm learning to be an engineer.

The first is about engineering knowledge—learning about engineering as a discipline separate from oneself. The second describes engineering being—a discipline you inhabit, embody, and represent. Engineering knowledge is crucial stuff. In 2006, engineering epistemologies (’the study of engineering knowledge’) was defined by the Engineering Education Research Colloquies as one of the field’s five main research areas. Questions like what is engineering knowledge, who gets to decide that, and how do we help people obtain it’these are all hugely important questions.

So we talk a lot about the things engineering students should know. But we don’t talk much about the people engineering students (and faculty and staff) are. If we do, it’s usually in the context of how identity affects the way someone acquires knowledge. This is reflected in comments such as: “Well, students from low-income communities tend to come in with less programming exposure,” or, “How can we help women become more confident while learning how to use the machine shop?”

However, we can’t separate knowing from being. There must be someone who knows—and a reality for them to know. Engineering ontologies (the study of being/reality) need to take their place alongside the study of engineering knowledge. What kind of person is an engineer, and what does it mean to embody engineering professionalism and practice?

These questions are more painful and pertinent for some engineers than for others. Not long ago, being an engineer meant being white and male, because the profession excluded most others. We’ve come a long way in making engineering knowledge more accessible—though as a deaf person who struggles to access lectures and meetings, I know there’s still a long way to go. Moreover, it has become much, much harder to access engineering being. What does it mean to be an engineer from a culture whose native language has no words for technical topics? Or to have no clue about what to wear for your first conference because you’ve never seen engineers like yourself in those spaces? What does it mean to be an engineer whose gender identity makes using the bathroom in the department’s building an issue?

Such questions offer a tremendous opportunity for engineering educators. What might it look like, for example, to have engineers who work at hospitals, build bikes, or have three kids under the age of five? Some of us know from experience but most do not. What about engineers who read braille, come from rural Appalachia, raise (or are themselves) foster kids, identify as multiracial, or took several years out of the workforce to care for a sick partner? What might it look like to have engineers who not only cook, sing, knit, dance…but also who cook gluten-free food, sing Gregorian chants, and dance with a wheelchair?

What might it mean to have such pursuits be part and parcel of our engineering practice, not just things we do “on the side” or outside of engineering? We often think of our engineering thinking, training, and tools as powerful items we can bring into other domains. What if we thought of ourselves—all of ourselves—as gifts to the field of engineering?

Even as we change the world by being engineers, each of us also changes engineering. And this is real work. Being genderqueer, Latinx (today’s gender-neutral term for someone of Latin heritage), first-generation college student, or the first/only member of a group in your school or company or field…is a constant project of making it possible to be these things in engineering. It’s the ceaseless effort of stepping into and making new realities. Because once you’re an engineer, nobody can ever say that it’s impossible for someone like you to be in engineering.

Sometimes our work is knowing about engineering; sometimes it involves doing engineering. And sometimes our work is being ourselves as engineers and doing both at the same time. After all, our job includes creating things that have never existed before.

And sometimes, the things we dream up are ourselves.


Mel Chua is completing a Ph.D. in engineering education at Purdue University.




Teaching Engineering Students to Sell

An introductory course increased interest in a sales career, boosted confidence, and provided important skills.

By Daniel P. Bumblauskas, Adam R. Carberry and David P. Sly

With the growing need for technically knowledgeable sales professionals, it is imperative that colleges effectively and efficiently prepare students for these jobs. Sales engineering or technical sales programs bridge engineering and business disciplines to educate students in sales techniques and methodologies. These targeted courses and programs have historically been offered to engineering students through business schools, in particular marketing programs.

Our study investigated and analyzed cohorts of students enrolled in an introductory technical sales course offered by Iowa State University as part of a technical sales minor, in which nearly 60 percent of incoming students were enrolled. We aimed both to assess the changing perceptions and attitudes of engineering students toward technical sales and to understand the impact such engineering-based sales courses have on sales-related learning outcomes. The study administered a before-and-after survey of students enrolled in the course for five consecutive years to assess perceptions ranging from interest and ability to helpfulness in learning specific technical sales skills.

The course was designed to teach the following skills: sales process methodology, techniques for building professional relationships, sales automation software, prospecting and account development, market analysis and segmentation, responding to requests for quotes and requests for proposals in written and verbal form, developing technical value propositions and competitive positioning, evaluating organizational decision processes and people, technical marketing strategies, and sales closing strategies.

A Sales Engineering Students’ Learning Outcomes Survey (SESLOS) was created and used to assess students’ pre- and post-course perceptions. A total of 281 students provided some data with a subset of students (n = 99) completing both the “before” and “after” assessments. The survey showed a significant increase in students’ interest in sales as a potential career and in their appreciation of sales skills in both professional and life success. The survey did not, however, ask students why they might have changed career preferences.

It is encouraging to see an increase in value associated with sales skills, even though students came into the course with a strong perception of the importance of sales skills. It is unknown how students came to this initial belief, but clearly the fact that students elected to take the course would indicate that they understood the importance of sales in their professional or personal lives.

One additional question we asked students is whether technical sales skills are something that people have inherently (that is, innate ability) or can be acquired through training (learned ability). The course strengthened students’ initial belief that sales skills are something you are born with. This response was striking, since the course explained that sales involve a lot of strategy in terms of identifying which questions to ask, people to speak with, objectives to address, and values to stress.

Students demonstrated significantly improved social skills, which is often associated with being good at these strategies. The latter result is not surprising because the course devotes several weeks to improving students’ skills in relationship building and interpersonal bonding. But the students’ failure to correlate those acquired skills with sales ability means we can clearly do a better job of helping students to understand that sales skills can be learned—that is, the nurture argument.

The overall results suggest students’ sales skills were enhanced significantly over the period of the course, providing evidence that the curriculum is delivering the desired primary goal of increasing both students’ confidence in their sales ability and their capability of executing the most important concepts in technical sales. The results provide some practical validation of the course design and verification for employers of student knowledge of pertinent sales subject matter. The findings support a need for technical sales education to inform students who seek a position in technical sales as part of their future responsibilities.


Daniel P. Bumblauskas is an assistant professor and the Hamilton/ESP International Fellow for Supply Chain & Logistics Management at the University of Northern Iowa College of Business; Adam R. Carberry is an assistant professor in the Fulton Schools of Engineering Polytechnic School at Arizona State University; David P. Sly is a professor of practice in the Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering department at Iowa State University. This article is excerpted from “Selling Technical Sales to Engineering Learners” in the spring, 2017 issue of Advances in Engineering Education.




Job–hunting? Here are a few current openings:





Visit here for details: http://www.asee.org/sales-and-marketing/advertising/classified-advertising/job-postings





There are still a few openings for the advanced National Effective Teaching Institute (NETI-2), which will be offered June 23-24, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus, OH. Drs. Susan Lord, Matt Ohland, and Michael Prince will lead each workshop. See the outline here. Topics to be covered are listed on the accompanying outlines. Participants for the NETI workshop will include 50 faculty members from all branches of engineering and engineering technology. The $1,050 registration fee covers organization and presentation costs, participant notebooks, breakfasts, lunches, and breaks. Attendees' institutions are expected to cover the participants' expenses for transportation, lodging, and one meal per day. If you have any administrative questions, please contact Heather Deale at ASEE headquarters via email (h.deale@asee.org). For questions about the workshop content, please contact Dr. Michael Prince at prince@bucknell.edu.


…Will be held on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 on the final day of ASEE’s Annual Conference in Columbus, OH. The International Forum brings together engineering professionals from academia and industry from around the globe who are engaged in novel engineering education initiatives to share information on successful models, experiences and best practices. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Mike Murphy, dean of the College of Engineering and Built Environment, Dublin Institute of Technology. Click here for more information.


...The Play’s the Thing: Why were actors on the stage at the ASEE Engineering Deans Institute in April? Click here to listen.


ASEE is partnering with Liaison to offer a Centralized Application Service; this new EngineeringCAS™ is similar to an engineering graduate school version of the Common App. EngineeringCAS will allow schools to configure a portion of the application to meet their specific institutional data needs and combines software and services to:

  • Allow domestic and international students to research and apply to multiple participating engineering programs.

  • Streamline manual administrative tasks (e.g., apply screening metrics, verify admissions exam scores, etc.) to help you reallocate valuable admissions resources.

  • Optimize the collection of data to help you understand enrollment trends (e.g., applicant geographic, demographic, and undergraduate origin data, etc.).

  • Save you time so you can focus on making strategic admissions decisions as you build a diverse class (e.g., you can include questions that help you to understand better an applicant's socioeconomic and educational background, or you can correlate your outreach efforts with applications received).

Liaison will be hosting a series of webinars about the new service to share more about the benefits it will offer your program and your applicants. Sign up for a session and find more information about joining the CAS. In addition, please stop by Liaison’s booth in the exhibit hall at the ASEE Annual Conference.


A bridge designed and built for a rural community in Liberia has won the $25,000 2017 NCEES Engineering Education Award for the Engineering Department at Dordt College, in Sioux Center, Iowa. A team of undergraduate civil engineering students worked closely with professional engineers (P.E.s), construction management professionals, and other consultants to design and construct the Liberian Farm Bridge near Harbel, Liberia, in order to connect a farm and three communities to civilization and the market.

Awards of $7,500 each went to engineering departments at these other schools: George Mason University Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering; Marquette University Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering; North Carolina State University UNC/NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Seattle University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.




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