U.Va., Virginia Tech Engineering Schools To Host International Conference on Innovations in Engineering Education

October 14, 2010

October 14, 2010 — Engineering educators and researchers from around the world will convene in Arlington later this month to discuss educating the next generation of engineers and emerging trends in engineering and computing education research and practice.

The 40th annual Frontiers in Education conference, hosted by the U.Va. School of Engineeringand Applied Science and the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, continues a tradition of disseminating the latest results in these areas through the presentation of papers, special sessions, panels and workshops.

The conference will be held Oct. 27 to 30 at the Marriott Crystal Gateway Hotel.

In addition to being hosted by the engineering schools, the conference is sponsored by three professional societies – the American Society for Engineering Education, Educational Research and Methods Division: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Education Society and IEEE Computer Society.

Larry Richards, a professor in the U.Va. Engineering School's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and general chair for the conference, said there will be significant attention given to how educators and researchers are addressing one of the National Academy of Engineering's "Grand Challenges for the 21st Century": enhancing personalized learning. Frontiers in Education has been at the forefront of educational research and practice since 1971, and this year's conference will highlight innovations in the field.

"Looking back over 40 years of FIE, many of the 'buzzwords' and issues sound the same, but the underlying theories and technologies have changed dramatically," Richards said. "Educational technology and computers; lifelong learning and distance education; learning theories, pedagogy and motivation; enrollment cycles and diversity issues; faculty incentives – all these topics have concerned FIE since 1971."

The conference's historian, Edwin C. Jones Jr., University Professor Emeritus at Iowa State University, has noted that although these issues remain the same, "the answers change over time." 

"We now have technologies that allow us to achieve things we could only dream of even a decade ago, and we have a deeper understanding of how students learn and what makes teaching effective," Richards said.

The conference will hold two special sessions devoted to assessing what has been accomplished in engineering education in the first 40 years of Frontiers in Education and identifying challenges for the next 40 years.

U.Va. Engineering School authors at Frontiers in Education 2010 include Reid Bailey, assistant professor of systems engineering; Ed Berger, associate dean of undergraduate programs and associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; Aaron Bloomfield, assistant professor of computer science; J. McGrath Cohoon, assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society; James Groves, assistant dean for research and outreach and associate professor of materials science and engineering; Tom Horton, associate professor of computer science; Stephanie Moore, director of engineering instructional design; and Larry Richards. Co-authors include faculty members from the U.Va. Curry School of Education as well as former Engineering School students.

For information and to register, visit fie-conference.org/fie2010/.

— by Zak Richards