F6-DM3-1 - Difference Makers: Entrepreneurs and Champions on the Frontiers of Engineering Education

Panels / Special Sessions
Stephen Frezza1 , Elizabeth Pluskwik2, James Morgan3
1 Gannon University
2 Minnesota State University, Mankato
3 Charles Sturt University

This panel aims at illustrating the issues involved with practical change making in engineering and computing education, with a particular focus on the persons of change-making. The central theme of the panel presentations will be on the entrepreneurs and champions, the persons who led and established the innovations in their programs. The panel speakers will come from participants and invitees of the Difference Makers working group drawn from among the most innovative engineering and computing programs around the world. 

Aims: The panel aims to be more than just the collected stories of different institutions and their stories of making sustained differences in engineering and computing education. Rather, the panel will reflect the work of the Difference Makers working group, with both the synthesis work of the pre-conference workshop and the presentations of the individual institutions and their representatives

The pre-conference Difference Makers working group aims at forming a group of key engineering program innovators for the purpose of identifying the recent successes that have pushed the frontiers of engineering education, explore the issues surrounding sustainability of educational program innovation, and facilitate recruiting and supporting new program innovators for either entrepreneurial (new program, new setting) or intrapreneurial (re-working of programs in an existing setting or culture).

The topics are centered on the person of the innovator, e.g., The Champion: The role of the lead in developing and launching a program innovation and the Program Entrepreneur: Shaping an educational innovation into a startup, whether externally (new/newer institution or program setting) or internally (within an established program or institutional setting). The goals of the panel are to engage the audience into a discussion of both the mechanisms of change, and the work of sustainable program innovation.

Approach: This will be accomplished by three different phases planned for the panel session:

  1. Introduction/Synthesis: A short presentation of the Working Group summary lessons related to the Entrepreneur, Champion and related topics. This will summarize the key take-aways from the collection of innovation stories in the Difference Makers working group (panel leads). This will include the collection of questions from the audience.
  2. Summary stories: These are a series of 2-4 stories from individual programs highlighting the experience and key lessons learned from and what it takes to be program innovators and champions. These will be presented by various working-group participants.
  3. Directed questions: While the panel presenters are sharing their stories and lessons learned, the panel organizers will collect questions from the audience and organize them by topic. These will be used to initiate the discussion and audience interaction. The intent is to allow audience themes to be addressed and spark conversation.
These key topics of Entrepreneur and Champion are best served by a panel in that the roles appear to be common in the experience of education change, yet also have significantly different stories as to how the roles worked, and how they could work for others in their own setting. The panel format serves this aspect well, as it permits the presentation of experience, the ability compare and contrast, and the ability to facilitate audience interaction.

Audience: The primary audience is engineering and computing educators interested in better understanding how to succeed in creating sustainable educational innovation.

 Presenters: The panel presenters will come from among the educators and institutions participating in the Difference Makers working group. These are not completely known, but minimally will include Charles Sturt University in Australia, Iron Range Engineering in Minnesota and University of San Diego in California. Other working group and panel participants are being sought. 

Elizabeth Pluskwik, Ph.D.       Elizabeth leads the Engineering Management and Statistics competencies at Iron Range Engineering, a project-based engineering education program located in northern Minnesota. Her research interests include gamification, entrepreneurship & innovation in engineering, cooperative learning, and engineering management. She enjoys helping student engineers develop entrepreneurial mindsets through active and collaborative learning in the classroom, through projects, and while on co-op. Her prior education and work experience are in accounting, and her Ph.D. in Organization and Management is from Capella University, Minneapolis.

Jim Morgan, CPEng, P.E., Ph.D. is Professor of Engineering at Charles Sturt University. Before joining CSU Engineering as the Inaugural Course Director in 2015, he spent over 30 years on the faculty of the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University. At A&M he directed AggieSTEM, a centre for developing project based STEM development of teachers in Texas; and co-directed the Eisenhower Leadership Program in the Bush School of Government and Public Service. In addition, he was active in the NSF Foundation Coalition project and directed the first-year engineering program whilst at A&M. His research focus is STEM and engineering education.

Deacon Stephen T. Frezza, P.S.E.M. earned his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a Professor of Software Engineering and chair of the Computer and Information Science department at Gannon University. He had led or helped lead the introduction of three new degree programs within his institution. His research interests are in the areas of philosophy of engineering, software engineering education, automated software testing, and the relationship between engineering and theology.