Past NSF-funded Projects

Award Abstract #0649070

Research Opportunities in Interdisciplinary Watershed Sciences and Engineering

Awarded Amount: $300,002.00

The award provided support for a three-year REU Site at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The REU program provided an interdisciplinary forum of faculty and students to train future professionals on critical elements of water-based approach to sustainable management of water resources. The activities of the REU Site included: 1) introducing participants to advanced research topics in an interdisciplinary environment; 2) providing students opportunities to acquire advanced laboratory, field measurement, analytical, and computational skills; 3) stimulating scientific curiosity of participants so that they may pursue an advanced degree in watershed sciences and engineering; and 4) facilitating an environment for intellectual and personal interaction of different academic, social and cultural backgrounds to promote diversity.

This program will facilitated life long learning experiences, and nourished analytical skills and creativity of future engineers and scientist in a diverse environment. Approximately 60% of the target REU participants were students who are underrepresented in the areas of watershed sciences and engineering due to their race, ethnicity, gender, financial resources, parent's educational level, and those from smaller colleges/universities who have few research opportunities at their home institutions.


Award Abstract #0431779

Reformulating General Engineering and Biological Systems Engineering Programs at Virginia Tech

Awarded Amount: $1,082,944.00 

This project is focusing on creating a cohesive General Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering program built on sound learning theory and pedagogical principles. A theme-based spiral curriculum approach, based on pioneering work of Jerome Bruner, is being adopted for the reforms. This Department-Level Reform project is demonstrating an unprecedented level of collaboration between engineering and education faculty members at Virginia Tech.

This project is reforming the General Engineering and the Bioprocess Engineering program within the Biological Systems Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. The specific objectives are: 1) Reformulating the existing General Engineering and Bioprocess Engineering curricula using theme-based spiral curriculum design and improved pedagogical methods, 2) Training faculty in the use of learning centered pedagogical techniques, 3) Developing a continual assessment plan to measure the impact of the reformulated curricula, faculty improvement activities, and student learning, and 4) Disseminating the results of the curricular reformulation and pedagogical changes to peers within and outside Virginia Tech.

The central idea of the spiral curriculum is that students will pursue their study of diverse engineering topics within the context of one or more organizing themes. Within the Bioprocess curriculum, the theme most relevant and useful is sustainability. By investigating progressively more complex problems situated within this theme, students are able to learn design, systems approach, ethics, and other engineering fundamentals, while emphasizing sustainability. The nature of the spiral concept is that students will constantly be working on the same topic-sustainability-but at progressively higher skill levels, knowledge representation, and commitment.


Award Abstract #0342000

Bridges for Engineering Education: Virginia Tech (BEEVT)

Awarded Amount: $107,500.00

This project seeks to initiate collaborative relationships among engineering and educational faculty at Virginia Tech. The goals are to develop a new degree program in education to enable engineering graduates to earn a master's degree while also qualifying for licensure as technology teachers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, to strengthen pedagogy in freshman engineering courses, and to initiate a collaborative aligning the university's activities with those of corporate stakeholders, K-12 educators, and policy makers to strengthen the infusion of engineering content in K-12 programs in Virginia schools.

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Rain Event: April 10, 2015 

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