CHBE at the Forefront of Engineering Education

 

CHBE faculty member Dr. Gabriel Potvin and CHBE student Ashna Misra recently represented CHBE at the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA) conference in Ottawa, ON. Both were recognized with awards at the conference, with Misra receiving first place for her poster, and Dr. Potvin receiving the Ron Britton Engineering Education Vanguard Award.

Misra graduated this spring and was kind enough to share her experience from the CEEA conference (write-up below). To learn more about Gabriel and the work he does, please see the story from UBC’s Vantage College, where he serves as chair of the Vantage One Engineering Stream.

The department wishes them both the warmest congratulations!

 


CEEA Conference Reflections

by Ashna Misra

The Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA) is an annual conference, attended by members of engineering universities nationwide, with the mission to improve engineering education. This year’s conference focused on the theme “Learning to Learn” which has synergies with engineering ideals like “life long learning.” By supporting my participation at CEEA, CHBE gave me the opportunity to be in the undergraduate poster competition. This section showcased undergraduate research in the field of engineering education and provided attendees with student perspectives for improvement.

 

CHBE student Ashna Misra beside her research poster “Introducing Emotions into Education”.

 

My research was based on my experience as a co-coordinator for a student-directed seminar (SDS) on Decarbonization Technology and Policy for Engineers. APSC-498T was a 3-credit course with ten students from different engineering disciplines. Throughout the class, our discussions kept returning to questions of personal reflection. It became clear that the content of the class, which often involved policy failures and social challenges, was emotionally draining. In our periods of reflection and sharing it helped normalize the feelings of apathy, anger, and sometimes empowerment to prevent students from feeling isolated or like the problem (decarbonization) was too big to solve. One student commented on our survey “without this academic outlet [she] would not have been able to stomach the readings.”

 

“Introducing Emotions into Education” by Ashna Misra

 

As students, it is very easy to fall into passive learning habits. By questioning students about their personal relationships to technical information it creates engaging relationships with the content itself. In addition, multidisciplinary settings and to a larger extent academic discussions on feelings teach students how to articulate their knowledge to people without the same background in a more complex environment – making them better communicators into their future. Thus, I propose that as we move towards a less segregated teaching regimen and confront multidisciplinary – complex problems, it becomes increasingly important to create conversations on our own relationships to content and its broader impacts on society.

I am incredibly grateful for the chance to attend CEEA2019. I spent a lot of time in my degree being rather cynical about academic institutions. The community at CEEA restored my faith and showed me that many professors want to be good teachers and do innovate their classrooms to advance learning. Some of the most popular research areas this year were improving mental health, decreasing the gender gap, understanding students’ values, and strengthening foundational engineering skills.