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July 2020


  • At HBCUs, Doctoral Student Enrollments Increase While Master’s Enrollments Decline

Sponsored Content: George Washington Online Graduate Programs in Engineering

  • GW Engineering Marks 20 Years of Pioneering Virtual Learning


  • White House Backtracks on Plan Placing Foreign Student Visas at Risk


  • A New Horizon for Teams


  • Online Learning With a Bonus


  • Thanks for a Great Conference! Here’s How to Catch What You Missed

  • Black Engineering Professors Speak

  • ASEE Announces Engineering Teacher Professional Development Endorsement Program (ETPDE)

  • Career-Launch Program for New Faculty Offered

  • Foundations of Social Justice for Engineers
  • More Uses for Classifieds

  • Impact Policy in Washington With AAAS Fellowship


By Charles M. Stuppard

This Databyte focuses on ASEE-member Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), examining graduate-level engineering enrollment (full-time) and degree attainment from 2009 through 2018. Over this time period, there has been an increase in the number of degrees awarded for both master’s and doctoral degree levels. Since 2013, however, master’s enrollment has decreased 47 percent, while doctoral enrollment has increased by 72 percent. As a result, the number of full-time doctoral students that attend HBCUs may soon surpass that of full-time master’s students.

Sponsored Content

GW Engineering Marks 20 Years of Pioneering Virtual Learning

Two decades ago, the Science Applications International Corporation approached the George Washington University about offering a systems engineering master’s to 100 employees. With simply a professor, a video camera, and a PowerPoint, GW engineering began its distance-learning tradition.

Since that first course, much has changed—the faculty now use an interactive suite of technology and the school offers four master’s and two doctoral programs to 1,000 students—but what remains is GW’s drive to provide innovative online engineering education.

“We have really tried to reproduce the brick-and-mortar experience for the graduate engineering programs,” said Shahram Sarkani, director of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Online Programs. “If we blindfolded you, we want the two experiences to be the same. In fact we want the digital experience to be better.”

Instructors present every class live, giving a fresh lecture at each course meeting. Faculty members hold daily virtual office hours and even meet on weekends to fit the busy schedules of working students.

GW also recruits experts to both teach and support the courses. Their Washington, D.C. location means access to industry and government leaders. The full-time distance learning technologists ensure that the digital tools provided thoroughly accommodate students and facilitate open dialogue for personalized instruction and course delivery.

The most valued guidance, however, is generated by the students themselves. The School of Engineering regularly compiles student feedback, and implements student suggestions for continuous improvement efforts. “We really do read every single comment and act on them,” said Sarkani. “If we see a trend, we make programmatic adjustments.”

“GW sets the standard for distance learning,” said Michael J. Harvey-Canales, an M.Eng. graduate. “GW faculty are passionate about teaching and they go above and beyond students’ expectations. . . . I have made the best decision by becoming part of the GW family.”



A planned Trump administration rule change that would have pulled the visas of international students attending U.S. universities and colleges this fall if all of their courses were online was suddenly—and surprisingly—scrapped by the White House on July 14. It had sparked myriad court challenges and strong blowback from the higher-education community, numerous states, and Silicon Valley. The administration announced its revocation of the rule in a federal court in Boston that was set to hear arguments in a suit filed by Harvard and MIT to challenge the policy. Both schools plan to offer mainly virtual classes this fall to safeguard students, faculty, and staff amid the ongoing and worsening COVID-19 pandemic. More than a dozen technology companies, including Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, filed a brief supporting the Harvard/MIT suit, and around 40 other institutions of higher education also filed supporting documents. Meanwhile, the attorneys-general of 18 states and the District of Columbia had likewise filed several suits to block the law.

Opponents called the now-dead rule change an effort by the White House to force schools to fully reopen their campuses this fall, despite the pandemic, to help bolster an economy decimated by the virus. But threatening foreign students with deportation if they didn’t take in-person classes would have required many colleges to rethink their plans to safely reopen in September by placing many, if not all, of their courses online. It further risked putting schools in an even worse financial bind if they lost millions of dollars in tuition from foreign students. Graduate schools, especially those offering STEM degrees, are particularly dependent on international students. And many U.S. industries are eager to hire foreign graduates.

Before the White House’s about-face, ASEE issued a statement deploring the rule change. It read in part: “Given that a fully online course load may be the only option at many universities, and given the challenges in international travel including visa access, the net effect of this change would appear to be to force large numbers of non-immigrant students to disrupt their studies, leave the U.S., and be unable to return for the foreseeable future.” ASEE also spearheaded a multi-society letter signed by 45 professional societies with a strong interest in higher education. It noted, “In sum, the effect of this change will be to inflict serious long-term damage to the advancement of science and engineering and the global competitiveness of the U.S. This is not an action we would have expected from a U.S. government, nor is it one that we can support.” Read the full letter.



‘Collective action’ would better prepare students to meet local and global needs.

By Debbie Chachra

My daily commute is shaped by a highway that doesn’t exist.

Had things gone differently 50 years ago, my 15-mile drive from Cambridge, Mass., to the college where I work would have taken me along the Southeast Expressway, designed to carry commuters from Boston’s growing suburbs to the downtown core. But a group of community activists worked together to prevent the expressway, with its attendant disruption, noise, and pollution, from cutting through their neighborhood. Their mobilization succeeded.

In 2012, the American Association of Colleges and Universities implicitly took note of this kind of activism in its report on civic learning and democratic engagement, A Crucible Moment. In presenting an educational framework, the authors included a new category, Collective Action, described as an integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes “to inform actions taken in concert with other people.” Such actions include problem solving with diverse partners and navigation of political systems and processes, including informal ones. The report solidified, for me, a crucial deficit in engineering education.

While teamwork is understood to be important and it is widely appreciated that virtually no engineering work is carried out in isolation, our student teams are very narrowly focused. Many of us recognize that the next great challenge facing engineering education is to help our students learn to understand the larger contexts of their technical work and to recognize and make moral decisions. But, even if students can do this individually, their ability to foster change is limited.

They must learn to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their colleagues to advocate for policies and direction at their workplaces as well as stand in solidarity with communities that will be affected by their work.

The challenges of working with others are more acute than they’ve ever been. It is no longer acceptable to fail to consider how different groups might be disparately affected by new systems or, worse, to dismiss the needs of some groups in favor of others (like building an expressway to primarily serve white suburban commuters while passing through a predominantly African American neighborhood).

This is as true for the newer technologies like social media, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence as it is for established technologies like highways and hydroelectric dams. The community activism that stopped the construction of the Southeast Expressway built upon an earlier fight against a highway through Cambridge, led in part by urban planners who had seen firsthand the displacement of families from Italian neighborhoods and Chinatown as a result of earlier highway expansion.

In large part because of the opposition to the expressway in Boston, the federal laws regarding transportation funding were amended: Rather than only paying for highways, funds could be used to finance mass transit. Today, where the Southeast Expressway might have been, there is a railway corridor that carries the Orange Line, Amtrak, and commuter rail and, alongside it, a community-designed linear park. Every year, the neighborhood holds a street party to celebrate the highway that wasn’t built. We’re facing the far greater challenges now of building, rather than not building, new infrastructure and systems that equitably serve community needs. We all need to learn to be engaged, committed members of society as we together face the manifold challenges of mitigating the effects of climate change and transitioning to a more sustainable future. That is going to require reimagining much of our physical infrastructure, and that can only happen with community involvement. Whether my commute is slightly longer or no, I can’t imagine a better benchmark of success to aim for than an annual neighborhood party.


Debbie Chachra is a professor of engineering at Olin College.



Screencasts bring added flexibility to a virtual civil engineering course, benefiting both hearing and deaf students.

By Amanda Bao

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, universities have taken drastic actions to close campuses and switch traditional class-style lectures to online teaching. Faculty have had to prepare their courses using alternative online approaches within a very short time window. This is challenging for many educators who lack experience in online teaching, and lots of questions and uncertainties have been raised over how to make distance teaching work well. Fortunately, the fast growth of technology and the Internet in the past decade have prepared us for this moment. Educators have taken advantage of these technologies and reinvented their traditional classrooms using web-based innovations. Numerous studies suggest that supplementing the traditional lecture-type instruction with interactive technological tools can enhance students’ learning.

One such tool we have found to work particularly well is screencast technology. A five-year research project at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) found that online teaching using this technology can not only be as impactful as traditional in-class lectures but also improve learning proficiency for students with hearing disabilities. Screencasts capture learning materials broken into detailed steps on a computer screen, accompanied by the instructor’s narration and synchronous captioning. Typically displayed on a tablet computer, screencasts have been used for many years in general college courses such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and have demonstrably improved learning. In these fundamental courses, screencasts are usually combined with clicker use or are applied in a flipped-classroom approach. With screencasts, students can follow the instructor’s step-by-step elaboration of the problems and better understand the underlying principles.

Our 2011–16 study involved a screencast approach aimed at upper-level technical courses in civil/structural engineering, uniquely focused on the inclusive civil engineering classroom with deaf students. A bank of screencasts was created and posted on the instructor’s teaching website for one of the core courses: Structural Analysis. Another comparable civil engineering course without a screencast was selected as a benchmark to assess the effects of screencasts on students’ learning.

Students learn at a range of paces in a traditional class due to different academic backgrounds, but with screencasts, they can control the pace of the videos according to their own academic needs. Students from RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf take technical courses together with hearing students in engineering and engineering technology programs. Deaf and hard-of-hearing students face significant barriers to access and inclusion in a traditional classroom and need the lectures to be augmented by visual aids, lecture notes, and Web-based instructional materials. In addition, their learning relies heavily on the accuracy of sign-language interpreters’ real-time understanding and communication of course materials. The time lag between the instructor and the interpreter further contributes to deaf students’ learning difficulties. The synchronously captioned online screencasts provide deaf students with more flexible access to the learning materials, based on their needs.

We collected and analyzed quantitative data of students’ academic performance, along with the surveys of students’ feedback about their experience in using screencasts. We compared the grades of the hearing and deaf students before and after the screencasts were introduced. Surveys about the screencasts provided additional insights into students’ experiences in using the online learning materials. The results show that Web-based screencasts enhance the learning effectiveness for both hearing students and deaf students. More inspiring still are statistical analyses showing that, with the help of the synchronously captioned screencasts, deaf students’ grades are comparable to those of their hearing peers in the same class.

Other benefits for students using the screencasts posted on the instructor’s website include time saved on homework and a significant reduction in office-hour visits. The positive outcomes of using online screencasts shed light on the merits of distance learning, not only during the current pandemic but also for the years ahead.


Amanda Bao is an associate professor of civil engineering technology at Rochester Institute of Technology. This article is adapted from “Enhancing Learning Effectiveness by Implementing Screencasts into Civil Engineering Classroom with Deaf Students,” in the fall 2019 issue of Advances in Engineering Education.


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

Electro Mechanical/Mechatronics - 1 opportunity



ASEE wants to thank participants for a great annual (virtual) conference last month. Attendees were able to access more than 700 sessions. Couldn’t make it? Too many sessions to attend live? No problem. Sessions will be available online through June 26, 2021. Visit for information on how to view them whenever it’s convenient, whether or not you were able to attend live. And don’t miss the 2020 Happy Faces video featuring some of our participants!


A new initiative driven by and featuring a number of ASEE members focuses on the experiences of Black engineering faculty. This announcement comes from Drs. Carlotta Berry, Monica Cox, and Tahira Reid Smith:

“We are proud to announce the launch of our ‘Black Engineering Professors Speak’ video. The purpose of our video is to make people aware of our experiences as Black engineering faculty, to connect to current and potential partners in our movement, and to stand in solidarity with activism efforts for Blacks in America.

Special to thanks to Dr. Leroy Long III for writing our script, to Dr. Brooke Coley for her tireless efforts editing the video, to our engineering faculty video participants, and to the donors who have sponsored our project.

Feel free to share this video on your social media networks and to email it to your colleagues and students. Suggested social media hashtags include the following: #BlackAndSTEM, #BlackInSTEM, #BlackAcademics, #BlackAdemics, #AmplifyBlackSTEM, #BlackInTheIvory, #EngineeringWhileBlack, #ILookLikeAProfessor, #ILookLikeAnEngineer, #BlackEngineeringFacultySpeak, #WeRiseUp and #BlackInEngineering.

This video is the first of many initiatives. It is time for us to have our say in a system in which Black faculty represent only 2.4% of STEM faculty. 

Direct inquiries about the video and ongoing actionable strategies and opportunities to enhance the experiences of Black engineering faculty can be made to

Thanks for your participation in our call to action.” 


The American Society for Engineering Education announces our system for recognizing professional development opportunities for PreK-12 educators that align strongly with the 2014 Standards for Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers of Engineering. We believe programs meeting these standards prepare PreK-12 students for either the collegiate study of engineering, or for being informed citizens in an increasingly technological world.

The next submission date for programs to be considered is September 1.  To learn more, visit or contact the Program Manager at


The DELTA Institute for New Faculty, a foundational, instructor-led online program, prepares new engineering faculty members to successfully launch their careers. They learn how to navigate their role as a new faculty member and the teaching, scholarship, and service responsibilities of their university and discipline. By the end of this program, they will have the knowledge and tools necessary to help them get their career off the ground. The program takes place in four two-hour-long sessions. Each session will have extensive facilitator-participant and participant-participant interaction, with ample time for questions and discussions. Dates and times: August 5, 12, 19, and 26, 2020; 11:00 P.M.-1:00 P.M., EDT. Cost: ASEE Members ($750); Non-members ($850). Access details.


August 17 at 1 P.M., EDT: This free 90-minute webinar will explore how engineers and engineering educators can build social justice concepts into their practice, by introducing fundamental ideas of social justice and providing case study examples. Register online.


You probably already know that you can you post job opportunities in ASEE’s 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.


Engineers are prized by the federal government. With assignments in federal agencies, on Capitol Hill, and in the judicial branch, Science & Technology Policy Fellows are on the front line of vital issues that impact society. The AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships (STPF) program is the premier opportunity for outstanding physicians and scientists to learn first-hand about policymaking while contributing their STEM expertise to American government.

The fellowship runs each year from September through August with a class of close to 300 fellows who represent a broad range of backgrounds, disciplines, and career stages. Fellows broaden their career paths while working with policymakers, administrators, and thought leaders. After the fellowship, they become members of a strong corps of 3,000+ alumni fellows who are accomplished STEM leaders in academia, government, industry, and the nonprofit arena.

The deadline to apply is November 1. Learn about stipend, benefits, and more.


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