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KU to Host Regional Engineering Educators Conference

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leaders in engineering education from a five-state region will be on the University of Kansas campus later this month to learn the latest trends in teaching and share ideas for improving the student learning experience.

The American Society for Engineering Education 2010 Midwest Section conference is set for Sept. 22-24 at KU. The conference is expected to draw more than 60 engineering educators from Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

“The focus will be on various methods of teaching from professors who have tried certain approaches, evaluated them and written papers on the results,” said Francis Thomas, professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering and conference coordinator. “The hope is that a person comes here and would pick up some ideas on how they can better present their courses.”

The conference will center on a variety of topics — including group-based learning, new technology, engineering ethics, the merits of study abroad and university-industry partnerships. Thirty-four smaller breakout sessions are planned for discussion among those topics.

The conference highlight will be a lecture on the challenges and opportunities of green aviation from professor Ramesh Agarwal of Washington University in St. Louis. Attendees also get to see the Kansas Speedway up close.

“We won’t be driving the cars,” Thomas joked. “We’ll head over there (Kansas City, Kan.) and get an inside look at the facilities and the advanced technology that goes into the cars.”

Thomas said the American Society for Engineering Education is different from many other engineering societies because it’s open to all disciplines.

“I’ve been in this organization for 30 years,” Thomas said. “The camaraderie is very good. There’s a lot of opportunities to share ideas. I’ve made a lot of friends in this organization over the years.”

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