To me, scholarly engagement is the process of using one’s skills and expertise to provide a service to others. Therefore, scholarly engagement takes many different forms depending on the task and situation at hand. In this document, I am going to focus on what personal factors play into my scholarly engagement, the importance of scholarly engagement to me, and lastly how I perform engagement in three areas: teaching, research, and service.
Personal Elements of Scholarly Engagement
I like to think about scholarly engagement in four primary perspectives: global, societal, economical, and environmental. From a global perspective, networking across country borders is becoming increasingly prevalent. By having a global perspective individuals are able to form connections between their own life and other individuals lives across the world. From a societal perspective, every society has different values and cultures they hold to the highest regards. Thus, it is important to be aware of these differences and include them in scholarly engagement projects. Additionally, when working on a scholarly engagement project it is important to pay attention to the financial needs of the stakeholders and focus on meeting the widest range of stakeholders possible. Lastly, it is important to focus on protecting the environment and striving to choose and implement the more environmentally friendly option available.
Importance of Scholarly Engagement
When I was, younger I participated in Boy Scouts where I got a firsthand experience of civic engagement while working on my Eagle Scout project. I think this was my first true experience of leading a project designed to benefit the community I lived in. Completion of this project made me more aware of the impact individuals can have on a society and realize that regardless of my position in the future I need to continue working on civic engagement projects. I now have a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and I am working on a PhD degree in the same field. Being an engineer and an individual who makes decisions through an empathetic process, I feel that it is my job to make the lives of individuals better. Therefore, when I see something that is wrong and I know I can either improve or assist with fixing it, I cannot stop myself from helping in any way possible.
Scholarly Engagement in Teaching
I believe that scholarly engagement for a professor is more than completing civic engagement projects or assisting with a global perspectives program. Scholarly engagement is also needed in the classroom because it is up to the professor to educate new engineers on what civic engagement is and the importance of being a citizen scholar. If this information is not provided to students they may never know the importance of it or how much of an effect they can have. However, scholarly engagement education is not the only form of engagement that needs to happen in the classroom. It is also important to engage with students in the class and promote a learner-centered atmosphere where students are comfortable asking questions and working with others to solve problems. I classify student-teacher engagement under a form of scholarly engagement because a professor is working to improve the lives of the students in the class.
Scholarly Engagement in Research
When it comes to including scholarly engagement in my research I always focus on performing research that is beneficial to the greater good. While my research in modeling damage associated with vehicle terrain interactions does not directly involve human test subjects it still has an indirect effect on a large population of human being, those that rely on vehicles. My research outcomes and models could be used in the process of designing vehicles and making production level design decisions. Therefore, I make sure to always check my results, perform verifications along the way, and remind myself that I am not only dealing with a body of metal but also with the human lives inside of it.
Scholarly Engagement in Service
As a graduate student performing research in the area of vehicle terrain interactions I have specific knowledge that I can use, beyond conducting research in an academic setting, to provide civil service to others in my community. In a course that I am currently taking, Citizen Scholar Seminar, a portion of the class is related to performing a citizen scholar project. For my project, I am working on the development of a game oriented program targeted at improving driver awareness of road conditions and how much of an effect it can have on vehicle handling. The main idea of the project is improving safe driving practices and reducing the number of accidents that occur due to over exuberant driving based on the weather or terrain conditions. This project is in the early stages and still requires significant development before it can be put into action, but I have a developed plan to see the project to completion.
Future service plans
In the short-term future, I plan to implement the above mentioned safe driver program by talking with potential stakeholders and showing them the developed prototype program. In the long-term future, I plan to continue developing more small programs targeted at simulating various adverse driving scenarios. I also, plan on expanding these safety oriented programs to make them educational for dynamics, vibrations, and automotive courses. Lastly, I plan to continue using my expertise to work on various civic engagement projects with other individuals.