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Stories about... Graduate Education Reform

ESJ Scholars’ End-of-Semester Pecha Kucha Address Social Justice Issues in Engineering

May 23, 2017

To showcase their final projects related to social justice issues they’re passionate about, eleven engineering undergrads who were part of the pilot for the new, two-semester-long Engineering for Social Justice (ESJ) Scholars program presented Pecha Kucha in an end-of-the-semester event. (In this Japanese presentation style, 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, keeping presentations by multiple speakers concise and fast paced). On hand to witness the May 8 final event, were a number of interested Engineering administrators, faculty, and members of the Illinois community.
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Engineering Grad Students Introduce High Schoolers to Engineering Via IRISE

May 11, 2017

In spring 2017, IRISE (the Illinois partnership for Respecting the Identities of Students in Engineering) connected Illinois Engineering graduate students in the ME598EO course with local ninth-graders from Centennial High School’s AVID program. The goal was to use engineering to provide a solution to a problem in our local community. So the students sought to address obstacles athletes in the Illini Wheelchair Basketball Program encounter while training, competing, or just in everyday life. Not only did the grad students learn a lot about outreach; the high school students learned a bit about what engineers do, and a few even discovered that they might like to become one.>
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Community of Scholars Successfully Woos Underserved Undergrads to Illinois

April 6, 2016

Seeking to increase the number of underserved students who attend graduate school at Illinois, the Graduate College invited undergraduate minority students from around the country to experience Illinois during Community of Scholars (COS), its spring campus visit program on March 6–8. Like its name implies, the goal of COS is to show visitors that, should they come to graduate school here, they would be valued members of a much larger community of scholars and would have access to numerous resources.
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Allante Whitmore Stanley presents her Water Filtration project to teachers during the PIFSE workshop.iRISE Course Prepares Engineers for Community Outreach

July 2, 2013

Illinois graduate students who are interested in sharing their love of engineering with youngsters now have a new course at their disposal—ECE 598 EO: Community Outreach for Engineering Researchers—through which they can learn the ins and outs of outreach. Developed by iRISE (Illinois Researchers in Partnership with K–12 Science Educators), the course trains graduate students how to develop design projects then teach them to local middle school students, with the goal of creating classroom-ready teacher materials.
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Douglas JonesIGERT Trains Students at the Intersection of Neuroscience and Engineering

December 6, 2012

"We're trying to develop a culture and a community of people here on campus that are interested in the intersection of neuroscience and engineering."

According to program coordinator Pat Grenda, this is the goal of the Neuroengineering IGERT at Illinois. Short for "Neuroengineering: A Unified Educational Program for Systems Engineering in Neuroscience," the five-year Ph.D. program is funded by a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant. In its fourth year, the IGERT currently has 45 students enrolled in four cohorts.
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Erik JohnsonNeuroengineering IGERT Students Experience Interdisciplinary Research

One student wants to discover how the brain enables complex thought, such as philosophy. Another wants a field rewarding enough to get him out of bed and to work every morning. Another student, who heard about the IGERT program while jogging, finds the psychology-engineering intersection intriguing and the engineering tools crucial to his work. Still another saw the IGERT as an opportunity to acquire resources, knowledge, and connections in the field of engineering that she wouldn't have had otherwise. No matter why students chose the Neuroengineering IGERT at Illinois, they find interdisciplinary research at the intersection of neuroscience and engineering to be challenging, yet exciting.
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Michael LouiRobots and Real-World Problems:
Michael Loui Tackles Engineering Education

October 24, 2011

Building robots and designing machines that solve real-world problems—it doesn't sound like the work of college freshmen, but professors in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois have found that first-year engineering students are up to the challenge. Problem-based learning is a teaching method that gives students a specific problem to solve and leaves it up to them to come up with the solution. Engineering faculty have been using problem-based learning, or as engineers call it, design laboratory, for years. They have seen the benefits of the technique first-hand: it promotes problem-solving skills, develops creative skills, increases student retention, and promotes students' confidence in the subject area.
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