School of Engineering to host 2005 ASEE New England Section Conference featuring speakers on women in engineering, homeland security, and more

School of Engineering to host 2005 ASEE New England Section Conference featuring speakers on women in engineering, homeland security, and more

Fairfield University's School of Engineering will host engineering educators from across the nation at the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education's New England Section Conference, which will focus on "The Value of Engineering Education and Practice in the 21st Century." The conference runs Friday, April 8, and Saturday, April 9, on Fairfield's campus.

The conference will feature several experts in the field, who will touch on a variety of timely issues, from increasing the number of women engineers and the engineering workforce in general, to research and development opportunities opened up by the Department of Homeland Security. The conference will also feature the annual presentation of awards for student papers submitted to the ASEE competition, as well as the Outstanding Teacher Award, and product exhibitions and demonstrations.

The goal of the conference is to shed light on trends in engineering education and demands for future engineers.

"We want to look at how the future of engineering education should be shaped in view of trends in technology and the needs of society," said Evangelos Hadjimichael, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering.

Several featured speakers will discuss trends in Engineering research and education on Friday, while research sessions will be held on Saturday morning.

Domenico Grasso, Ph.D., dean and professor of the College of Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Vermont will deliver the keynote address, "Engineering Thought: Oxymoron or Great Challenge," which will attempt to answer such questions as: How do engineers learn to think? What informs their decision? What after all is engineering?

Dr. Grasso's discussion will propose "a fresh and somewhat controversial approach to engineering education," that makes it "enjoyable rather than onerous, opens many doors, and enlightens the mind making it a great place to live for the rest of your life."

Kei Koizumi, director of the R&D Budget and Policy Program for the American Association for the Advancement of Science will discuss "Homeland Security-Related Research and Engineering in 2005 and 2006."

The emergence of homeland security as a topic of national concern over the last four years has changed the landscape for engineers, creating many opportunities for new research and development, Koizumi said.

"Homeland security is very engineering-oriented," Koizumi said. "It's making new technologies work and putting them in the field for first-responders."

Federal investments in homeland security topped $4 billion this year and will increase again next year, Koizumi said, with funding going to a variety of projects, such as bio-defense research, cargo-screening technology, cyber-security and border security.

The Department of Homeland Security is also investing in educational initiatives, such as funding science and engineering graduate student studies. "The hope is when these students graduate they will become a resource," Koizumi said.

Ruta Sevo, Ph.D., program director for Research on Gender in Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation will offer her thoughts on "Women in Engineering –– Where Are We, and Where Do We Want To Be?" While, Glenn A. Cassis, executive director of the Connecticut Pre-Engineering Program Inc. (CPEP) will discuss why the number of individuals entering engineering and science careers has not kept pace with the demand and how to attract traditionally underrepresented populations to these career fields using the CPEP model.

Joseph M. Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace, Inc., will discuss "What's In Store for Our Workforce."

"We need to encourage more students to prepare for careers in science and engineering," Carbone asserted.  "People in these fields are especially vital to innovation, which Connecticut needs to remain competitive."

The WorkPlace, Inc. is Southwestern Connecticut's Workforce Development Board and coordinates job training and education for this 20-town region.  It is frequently a demonstration site for national projects and is known for its innovation.

On Saturday, participants will break up into individual sessions on specific engineering topics, including mechanical engineering, industrial and automation manufacturing, civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, engineering technology/community colleges, design and capstone projects, the liberal arts and engineering, K-12 education issues relevant to engineering, industrial and university interactions, and innovations in engineering education.

Co-sponsors of the conference include Electronics Workbench, Festo, HB Communications Inc., integers Accounting Firm (dba U.S. Didactic), Technical Education Solutions, Feedback Inc., Zwick/Roell and RJT Educational.

Posted On: 03-22-2005 10:03 AM

Volume: 37 Number: 210