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ASEE Connections

March 2019




In This Issue:

Products & Programs

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ASEE's Exclusive New "Engineering Education Suppliers Guide"
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Figure 1. Projected Percent Growth by Engineering Occupation

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that engineering fields will add over 135,000 more jobs to the current 1.6 million jobs through 2026. The percentage of growth for each engineering occupation is displayed in Figure 1. Engineering fields are projected to have 122,000 total openings each year through 2026. The projected annual average job openings (in thousands) for each engineering occupation is displayed in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Projected Annual Openings (Thousands) by Engineering Occupation



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President Trump earlier this month sent a fiscal year 2020 federal budget proposal to Congress that would greatly increase military spending while taking an ax to most discretionary domestic programs. He is also once again asking for money—$8.6 billion—toward building a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Congress refused to spend money on a wall for this fiscal year, which led to a 35-day shutdown of the federal government in December and January before Trump eventually backed down. Trump said he would be willing to instigate another shutdown later this year if Congress yet again fails to pony up money for the wall. The agency taking the biggest hit would be the Environmental Protection Agency, which would see its funding cut by 31 percent. Across agencies, Trump’s budget would reduce spending on renewable energy and climate science programs by 70 percent. Two Earth science missions at NASA geared toward understanding climate change would be dropped. The Transportation Department’s budget would be cut by 19 percent, Agriculture’s by 15 percent, Interior’s by 14 percent, and Education’s by 12 percent. The National Science Foundation would sustain a 12 percent budget cut, while NASA’s budget would be sliced by 2 percent. Democratic leaders in the House and Republican leaders in the Senate both indicated that Trump’s proposal is a non-starter, and Congress will craft the 2020 budget. Trump’s budget is mainly seen as a political statement ahead of his expected reelection effort next year.



The U.S. earlier this month grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 airliners, which have been involved in two fatal crashes since October. But the decision came after several days of delay and only after 42 other countries had already grounded the planes. Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed March 3, killing all 157 people on board, and a Max 8 operated by Lion Air of Indonesia went down in October, killing 189 people. In both disasters, the jetliners went down shortly after take-off. One possible cause cited in news reports was software intended to stabilize the nose and prevent stalling. Moreover, the decision to ground the Max 8 didn’t come from the Federal Aviation Administration—which publicly kept saying the aircraft was safe to fly—but from the White House, in the form of an executive order from President Trump. Lawmakers from both parties had urged that the planes be grounded, as had many flight-safety experts, pilots and consumers. The New York Times reported that, since 2005, the FAA’s internal program to certify that aircraft meet safety standards has relied on employees of manufacturers. In a subsequent op-ed, Jim Hall, the former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, criticized that program and wrote that the FAA should have stopped the Max 8s from flying. That the order came instead from the White House, Hall wrote, “speaks to a profound crisis of public confidence in the FAA.” The Times also reported that before his decision, Trump took a call from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who vowed that the planes were safe. But the Washington Post reports that ahead of that call Trump had privately denigrated the Max 8, saying that it “sucked.” Publicly, on his Twitter feed, Trump complained that “airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly” with new technologies adding “great cost yet very little gain.” Even after making the decision, Trump equivocated and told reporters that there had been no urgent need to ground the jets, but that he acted because it was “psychologically” important. Some news outlets reported that Trump feared grounding the jets would disrupt the stock market.





Tiremaker Goodyear has developed an airless tire with bladed spokes that could morph into a propeller for flying cars. The Goodyear Aero tires could be flipped upward to act as fans that would help lift a vehicle into the sky, CNN reports. Chris Helsel, the company’s chief technology officer, tells the news channel that the tire is, for now, merely a concept. Because manufacturers are contemplating flying cars, Helsel says, “our work on advanced tire architectures and materials led us to imagined a wheel that could serve both as a traditional tire on the road and as a propulsion system in the sky,” But Daniel Codd, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of San Diego, tells CNN he has doubts about the efficacy of a tire-propeller hybrid. It would be difficult to design tires that could safely handle braking on the ground and also withstand the high rotational speeds needed by propellers to lift a car into the air, Codd says.

Image Courtesy of Goodyear



For 18 years now, MIT Technology Review has annually picked 10 tech breakthroughs it thinks will soon affect our lives. For 2019, the magazine handed the job of curating the list to Bill Gates, the former head and cofounder of Microsoft, making it the first time it’s used a guest editor for the job. The magazine says Gates’s list indicates “we’re reaching a tipping point in humanity’s technological development—from technologies that mostly make life longer to those that mostly make it better.” His choices broadly fall into three categories: climate-change mitigation, healthcare, and artificial intelligence. Among his picks: advanced robot dexterity; improved nuclear fission and fusion technologies that can help reduce carbon emissions; plant-based and lab-grown meats; economically viable carbon-dioxide catchers that grab CO2 from the air; and low-cost off-grid sanitations systems that don’t rely on sewers or outside sources of power (for a closer look at non-sewered sanitation technologies, see the March/April edition of Prism).






A residential college, peer monitoring, and an introductory course significantly increased retention among all demographic groups.

By Laura H. Ikuma, Adrienne Steele, Summer Dann, Oluwakemi Adio and Warren N. Waggenspack Jr.

Increasing student persistence, especially in STEM fields, is a major goal in higher education across the United States. Attrition rates are high: Only 40 percent to 60 percent of students who declare a STEM major actually graduate with a STEM degree. This percentage is even lower for underrepresented groups. A wide variety of supplemental programs have been incorporated at many universities to address this issue, but more research is needed regarding their impact. At Louisiana State University (LSU), several programs were offered over the past decade to all students in the College of Engineering, including an engineering residential college, peer mentoring, an introduction-to-engineering course, and a summer bridge camp for incoming students. The purpose of our study was to determine the impact of these large-scale programs on persistence in engineering, STEM, and at the university overall.

We collected data over eight years from 11,771 first-year engineering students to examine the effects of demographics, academic preparation, and program participation on retention and graduation rates. During this period, 3,097 engineering students (27 percent) participated in one or more of these programs. We first used descriptive statistics to compare differences between program participants and nonparticipants. Multiple logistic regressions were employed to determine which factors significantly impact persistence, and correlation analyses were used to limit the number of variables that should be included. We then analyzed a series of regression models to determine the impact of program participation on student persistence while controlling for the influence of demographic factors.

Program participants persist at higher levels than nonparticipants by at least 11 percent in engineering, 9 percent in STEM overall, and 5 percent in all majors at LSU. Family income, gender, ACT math scores, and in some cases, ethnicity also significantly impacted persistence. However, correlations between specific programs and demographic variables were relatively low (<0.15), indicating that the programs reached a broad range of student backgrounds and that they were representative of the college as a whole. Participation in the residential college, introductory course, and mentoring programs significantly increased persistence across multiple years for all demographics. The summer bridge camp did not show as much influence on persistence, perhaps because of the short duration compared with the other programs. However, it was still a positive influence in retaining students for a second year in engineering. Interaction effects showed that African-American students who lived in the residential college had increased persistence in engineering.

Engineering persistence increased for both male and female participants, although it was lower for female students than for males. However, women had similar persistence rates to men in STEM majors and even higher persistence in all majors at LSU.

Our study is one of the first to analyze the effects of these types of programs on persistence beyond the first or second year. The effects of the residential college, mentoring program, and the introductory course endure throughout students’ university careers, which is important to consider when universities make budgeting decisions on programs.

These programs are now fully institutionalized in the college and continue to evolve. For example, the peer mentoring program provides student mentors with an exceptionally strong opportunity to grow leadership skills. These student leaders founded an official student organization in 2012 (Society of Peer Mentors), and they are currently working to expand this organization to other universities in the near future.

These results potentially have broader applications and impacts. By not focusing on specific demographics, our programs reached a greater overall percentage of the student population. These results could serve to inform university administrators who may be interested in beginning programs such as these, helping to justify their costs.


Laura H. Ikuma is an associate professor of industrial engineering at Louisiana State University, where Warren N. Waggenspack Jr. is an associate professor of mechanical engineering, Adrienne Steele is assistant director of student programs and outreach in the College of Engineering, and Oluwakemi Adio is a Ph.D. student in industrial engineering. Summer Dann is executive director of the East Baton Rouge Technical and Career Education Center. This article was adapted from “Large Scale Student Programs Increase Persistence in STEM Fields in a Public University Setting” in the January 2019 Journal of Engineering Education.





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Receive the tools and training needed to prepare and deliver implicit bias workshops at your institution with the new train the trainer program Training for Action: Challenging Implicit Bias. This three-part program will commence with a full-day workshop on June 15th in conjunction with the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference. Applications open now! Learn more and apply: https://goo.gl/NSQMwF


The 2019 Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD) conference will be held April 14–17, 2019, at the Marriott Crystal Gateway in Crystal City, Va. (future site of Amazon’s HQ2). ASEE members qualify for a discount. Click here to register.


Learn the best practices of successful department chairs on June 16th at the 2019 Chairs Conclave in Tampa, FL. Designed by chairs, for chairs, the Chairs Conclave is an exclusive forum for engineering and engineering technology department chairs to exchange ideas and experiences, talk through challenges, and build working relationships. Learn more and register toda—seating is limited—at https://chairsconclave.asee.org.




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