The Senior Women's Summit at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Portland, Oregon, brought together senior women who are leaders in their fields in academia, industry, and research labs. The event featured a panel on career advancement, working sessions on leadership and developing a "brand" as a senior scientist, and networking opportunities for the women to share their experiences and advice with each other. Dr. desJardins reports, "I was inspired by the amazing senior women at this event, and by their accomplishments in the field. It was particularly interesting to realize that some of the women who are more senior than I am—department chairs, deans, vice presidents—were wrestling with many of the same questions I've been asking myself, about what career choices and leadership opportunities would be most satisfying to pursue, as I enter the second half of my professional career."
The Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) Symposium, organized and sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering, provided an opportunity for early- and mid-career faculty to share their experiences and ideas about innovative strategies for improving engineering education. In the symposium's poster session, Dr. desJardins gave a presentation on the honors seminar that she teaches at UMBC, called "Computation, Complexity, and Emergence." The course brings together students from a wide range of backgrounds to explore complex systems and understand the importance of complexity in understanding processes and behaviors in many different application fields. Dr. desJardins's presentation emphasized the importance of teaching non-engineers about engineering and computational topics, the value of interdisciplinary learning environments, and the importance of emphasizing student-centered learning methods. The FOEE Symposium also included panels and presentations on project-based learning, assessment of learning outcomes, active learning, and design-based learning. Meeting other faculty from across the country who are teaching and innovating at a wide range of academic institutions, was also the source of new friendships as well as exciting new ideas for engaging students and increasing the depth of their learning experiences inside and outside of the classroom.
One of the most valuable parts of the FOEE symposium, according to Dr. desJardins, was the small-group mentoring sessions with senior leaders from industry and academia. She had the opportunity to have breakfast with Larry Shuman (Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh) and lunch with Stephen Director (Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northeastern University), and was inspired and fascinated by their stories of implementing major curricular changes at their respective universities.
Photo Courtesy www.gracehopper.org