Additional Blog Post 5 – Educational Gap in Rural Schools

There’s an increasing inequality in America’s public education system. Many rural school districts are faced with issues that stem from the current demographic and economic state of rural areas – both the lack of technological infrastructure and the difficulty of hiring and retaining teachers.

Some residents in rural areas are in extreme levels of poverty. This poverty is reflected in the educational system in rural schools. According to studies, only 10% of students from low-income families attain a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25. It is difficult to improve these statistics without significant support from the government and the community. In fact, states like Connecticut, Michigan, and Massachusetts, rural districts received 50 percent less funding from the federal government than urban counties. Other states, urban districts received between 20 to 50 percent more funding than their rural counterparts.

Rural schools face a unique problem with transportation. Rural residents are spread out across their districts of residency and because of such large areas to cover for the states, many rural school districts spend more of their budget to transporting their students. According to a 2001 report the Minnesota State Legislature disclosed that transportation spending per student varied between $198.66 in metro suburbs and $378.44 in rural districts with enrollments less than 500. There’s a whopping $179 difference per student in transportation costs. This limits the actual educational fund that the rural students need.

Transportation is the the only problem in rural school districts. It is difficult for schools to hire teachers that are willing to work at rural schools. Due to the geography of rural areas, rural schools tend to be far away from many services that appeal to young people or newly formed families. And not only that rural teachers also face the possibility of having an increased workload. Dr. John Hill, the Executive Director of the National Rural Education Association said that “There’s just not enough people teaching these subjects and sometimes the person teaching is on an emergency license.”

The current state of rural education is bleak. It is important to address these issues discusses that many rural school face. Although these problems are tightly connected with the economic development in these regions, there are many ways that can be done to help them. I hope that we can work together to ensure that every child in rural area receives an equal opportunity to succeed.


Additional Blog Post 4 – Gender Inequality in STEM

One of the news articles that I read recently discusses the gender equality paradox in the STEM fields. We often think that countries with greater gender equality would see a better proportion of women pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  However, a new study has found that the reality is actually the opposite of what we believe. The research found that countries, such as Albania and Algeria have a greater percentage of women among their STEM graduates than countries lauded for their high levels of gender equality, such as Finland, Norway and Sweden.

One speculation based on the the researchers from Leeds Beckett University and the University of Missouri is that this might be because countries with less gender equality often have little welfare support, making the choice of a relatively high-paid STEM career more attractive.

Countries with higher gender equality provide a high level of social security for their citizens when compared to those with lower gender equality. These countries tend to have less secure and more difficult living conditions. Because of their life satisfaction studying STEM can getting a job in this industry is more lucrative than humanity fields.

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Additional Blog Post 3 – Ways to Improve Diversity in STEM for Underrepresented Minorities

The United States’ diversity in STEM workforce is steadily improving, but the national data show that the disparity in STEM degree attainment for underrepresented minority students increases at each degree level, compared with white and Asian students as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

However, there’s been a research that provide recommendations to increase the diversity of undergraduate STEM disciplines. These are five recommendations that can help improve the numbers –

  1. Increase institutional accountability
    Establish information systems across institutions that document 1) incoming student interest, 2) declared major, and 3) department/school/program graduation rates all (1–3) by student ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, and first-generation status. Make this information publicly available and reported to funding institutions.
  2. Create strategic partnerships with programs that create lift
    Program directors can begin by identifying the type of program one directs or wishes to direct. Possible variables to consider: 1) duration of the program, 2) context (i.e., type of university), 3) student type (e.g., low-, medium-, or high-risk/achievement/potential; culture; socioeconomic status; first-generation status; motivation), and 4) purpose/goals of the program (short, medium, and long term). Search literature for publications regarding programs like the one you want to direct. Communicate with funders about their knowledge of successful programs. Funders can facilitate greatly by supporting collaborations between successful and new programs.

  3. Unleash the power of the curriculum
    The learning sciences provide many publications that articulate curriculum best practices. Educators can expand their knowledge about CUREs and other inquiry-based approaches by reading this brief article, “Inquiry-Based and Research-Based Laboratory Pedagogies in Undergraduate Science” (Weaver et al., 2008). Alternatively, Anderson et al. (2011) recommend seven institutional shifts that can support curriculum change in their article “Changing the Culture of Science Education at Research Universities.”
  4. Address student resource disparities
    The issue of resource disparity is not new and perhaps has the longest history of intervention. Creating access and support for students occurs through a variety of avenues, including institutional financial commitments
    to reduce disparity for low-income students, federal and private funding agencies providing support, and political actions to reduce economic disparity nationally, statewide, and in local communities.

  5. Fire the creative juices
    For mnderrepresented minorities, firing creative juices can occur by linking the work done in their STEM fields to personal and culturally valued outcomes. Brief but powerful writing exercises can be introduced into classes to help facilitate this link (see work by Judith Harackiewicz [Harackiewicz et al., 2013] on utility value exercises). Faculty, departments, and institutions are encouraged to creatively find ways to better connect underrepresented minorities STEM students to community-based learning opportunities or to find ways to emphasize how classroom content relates to prosocial communal outcomes. Funding agencies are encouraged to support research in STEM fields that both advances the fields and explicitly benefits vulnerable communities.

The study concludes that diversity in education institutions will improve with these five recommendations. When students are put in supportive environments of learning and furthering education,  diversity will slowly improve and thrive in our institutions in the U.S.


Additional Blog Post 2 – Tenure Track vs. Non Tenure Track

Dr. Peter Cahn wrote an article back in 2002 about his interview experience at a liberal arts college and a large public research institute for a tenure-track faculty position. He shared how different the environment was between the private liberal arts college with an emphasis on undergraduate teaching and the public college that emphasizes graduate teaching and research.

He recalled that at the public research university he immediately felt comfortable in the anthropology department because it was the intellectual environment that he was exactly looking for. The position would allow him to focus on his research with the university’s generous funding for summer travel and stipend for research expenses. However, the expectations for junior faculty members were more focused on publications, not teaching. He was reminded that he would need a book or a series of articles to get tenured but not so much with teaching.

He also shared that during his visit, he did not get to interact with any students on campus at all. The committee members were more interested in how he presented his research, not how he can interact with students. Moreover, the academic buildings were old and run-down whereas the basketball arena and the football stadium were remodeled recently. He was disappointed with the fact that the university prioritizes on what will bring them more money into the university, not the teaching aspect.

On the other hand, the liberal arts college focused on undergraduate teaching. He was surprised that most professors knew their students by their names and interact with them everyday with their assignments. The university spends a large portion of their finance in maintaining the academic buildings and improvement their teaching curriculums. However, the environment is good for teaching, but leaves a little room for his own intellectual development and research opportunities.

This is something that I have debated over the past years when I started thinking about teaching versus research in academia. They are pros and cons with each option. I realized ultimately it will come down to what I enjoy the most and what type of environment that I will thrive the most as a junior faculty member.

Original article –

Additional Blog Post 1 – Why so few? Women in STEM

It’s been a well-known fact that there’s a terrible ratio of men and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). A natural question to ask is “Why is that?” Women are smart and intelligent. There’s more women pursuing medical and law degrees than their male counterparts (let’s assume that we are only considering the numbers of male and female given by their self identification). There’s a report published by AAUW in 2010 that presents a detailed analysis of lack of diversity in STEM field regarding the profiles, including stereotypes, gender bias, and the climate of science and engineering departments in colleges and universities. The report also suggests what we can do to have more open and attractive environment to girls and women that are interested in pursuing science and engineering majors.

One of the issues is that there’s been an implicit bias towards women in STEM. According to the report, there’s a stereotype that  women are not good at math and this puts emotional burden and worry on women who are considering STEM majors.  A reference to this stereotype can adversely affect their performance. Without the emotional burden, it is expected that her performance will improve. This is one of the key findings of this report that stereotype threat is one compelling reason for why women are underrepresented in STEM fields.

Another important finding of this report is that there are individuals that believe in static intelligence and fixed mindset. Individuals with a fixed mindset tend to be more susceptible to a loss of confidence. The research findings have shown that encountering obstacles and challenging problems is in the nature of scientific work. Relating this to the few numbers in women in STEM,  when girls and women believe they have a fixed amount of intelligence, they are more likely disengage themselves from science and engineering. Though this is true for all students, it is particularly relevant for girls in math and science, where negative stereotypes persist about their abilities.

Blog Post 5 – Future of the University

Modernizing Higher Education in Engineering Curriculum

In order to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing environment, many colleges and universities across the country are incorporating hands-on experience that’s useful in industry as well as dynamic learning environment for their students. Many universities are realizing, especially in engineering, that there’s more to learn outside of the classroom setting, and hence, there has been many engineering curriculum activities that are done outside of classrooms. To highlight some of the changes that we are seeing across many universities in colleges, I would like to give a few examples that outside-of-the-box learning practice have benefited the students’ learning.

Current MIT President, L. Rafael Reif realized that the Institute needs to push the science of innovation forward. The MIT Innovation Initiative (MITii) works with all five MIT schools in order to build the and networks among their inter and intra department students and alumni. The program combines hands-on, global opportunities and builds expertise in the innovation process. MITii fosters many innovation and entrepreneurship programs on campus as it creates more research and educational infrastructure for innovation. The curriculum is not only designed for undergraduates, but also graduate and postdoctoral students. MIT believes that education does not happen only in classrooms, but by encouraging students to move from idea and invention to action and the marketplace. There are many new courses that involve team learning and teaches students from various disciplines to work together and solve and focus on innovation challenges. A similar program can also be found in Rice University. Their Entrepreneurship Initiative is to bridge the academic experience across the liberal arts, professional schools and the research university.

Moreover, the Olin College program has been very successful with their new hands-on based engineering curriculum. Olin’s program is very unique because it boasts a 50 percent female enrollment. Many of their alumni run enterprises that were once started in their dorm rooms and classrooms. The program is so successful that to date there has been more than 2,000 faculty members from 750 different institutions of higher education visited Olin to learn from and model its unique project-based curriculum.

In conclusion, we have seen many success stories that integrating hands-on learning with an entrepreneurial mindset can embed the real-world problem solving skills into their coursework and strengthen students’ learning experience. I believe it is critical to remain relevant in today’s competitive higher education by effectively developing students into global leaders.

Blog Post 4 – Tech & Innovation in Higher Ed. Infographics


There are three main points to the infographics chart about how social media is being used in higher education.
1). The stats show that most faculty, about 64% are using social media for personal reasons. Approximately, 34% of professors are using social media for teaching purposes. Those of people who use social media for teaching reasons, younger faculty use more social media than older faculty.
2). For personal purposes, Facebook is the predominant medium whereas Linkedin is used the most for professional reasons. Faculty are using mostly videos and visual aids that are provided by education companies to use in the classroom.
3). Between 2011 and 2012, the attitude toward social media for educational purposes has shown positive progress. All perceived barriers, including concerns about privacy, support at institution, and time to learn how to use social media have decreased. Among those barriers, the perception that social media takes too much time to learn and to use in the classroom has seen the largest decrease.

Blog Post 3 – Open Access

The IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics journal covers issues in the field of power electronics.

The journal editors enforce standards and a review policy based on the IEEE Transactions. It is supposed to be that only papers of high technical quality, those of new and novel device, circuit or system issues interest to power electronic society are accepted. Some of the subjects related to power electronics are —

  • Aerospace
  • Communication, Networking & Broadcasting
  • Components, Circuits, Devices & Systems
  • Computing & Processing
  • Engineered Materials, Dielectrics & Plasmas
  • Fields, Waves & Electromagnetics
  • General Topics for Engineers
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Power, Energy, & Industry Applications
  • Signal Processing & Analysis
  • Transportation

IEEE offers three options for open access (OA) publishing—Hybrid Journals, a Multidisciplinary Open Access Journal, and fully Open Access Journals. They are supporting open access journal via these three options and dedicated to a broad or a specific subject area. The materials are accessible via online for faster delivery.

Blog Post #2 – Ethics

Case Summary: Sudbo, Jon

Jon Sudbo, D.D.S. who is a former doctoral student and faculty member at University of Oslo, and also a former physician in the Department of Medical Oncology and Radiotherapy, NRH has engaged in science misconduct by falsifying research reports in his grant application 1 P01 CA106451-01; the grant was submitted to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and National Institutes of Health (NIH).

In Figure 1 included in his grant application, he reported fabricated results regarding the effects of lesion ploidy upon survival in patients with oral pre-malignant lesions. Another falsified information he included in the report was the number of patients he claimed that was reviewed for admission to the study.

Dr. Sudbo pled guilty of his wrongdoing and as a result, at least twelve publications have been retracted due to invalidity of his experiment methodology. He has agreed to exclude himself permanently from any contracting with any U.S. government agency that involves in nonprocurement programs in the U.S. Also, he has voluntarly excluded himself from serving in any PHS advisory board.

Mission Statement: Webb Institute & ETH Zurich

Comparing mission statements for Webb Institute and ETH Zurich

Webb Institute is a private college for undergraduate students, located in Glen Cove, New York. The institution is known for its engineering curriculum on ship design and practical skills. Also, all of the admitted students receive full tuition for four years.

Mission Statement of Webb Institute:

  • Providing a rigorous education in the principles of engineering and a broad-based knowledge of the fundamentals of naval architecture and marine engineering;
  • Developing skills that will enable graduates to become leaders in and make significant contributions to their chosen profession and to the social environment in which it functions;
  • Instilling in our graduates the highest ethical standards and sense of professionalism;
  • Cultivating curiosity in the arts, sciences, and humanities, and providing the background and encouragement necessary to support life-long learning.

ETH Zurich, also known as Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich is located in the city of Zurich, Switzerland. ETH Zurich is noted for its emphasis on science, technology, and engineering.

Mission Statement of ETH Zurich:

ETH Zurich imparts to its students the highest state of knowledge and practical skills. It seeks to enable young people to find their orientation in a complex and rapidly changing world, and to stimulate an understanding of ethical and cultural values so that, upon completing their studies, they will be not only highly qualified professional people but also responsible members of society.

Personal reflections on the mission statements —

I chose Webb Institute and ETH Zurich because Webb Institute is known for providing free college tuition to all admitted students. I’m also interested in ETH Zurich because the university is noted for its rigorous engineering curriculum and its emphasis on research in science and technology fields.

Between the two institutions’ mission statements, I found several similarities. First, both institutions emphasize the importance of teaching practical skills and the knowledge that would help students succeed in their chosen professions. Second, instilling the highest ethical values and principles is another statement was included in their mission statements. I believe one of the reasons that both ETH Zurich and Webb Institute put strong emphasis on practical skills is that they are preparing the students with the right skill set and technical ability to perform their duties when they are out in the engineering workforce, which require hands-on training and understanding of the fundamental knowledge in science and engineering.

One difference between the two mission statements is that Webb Institute is particular about naval architecture and marine engineering, which are the only two degrees that the college offers, whereas ETH Zurich wants their students to find their passion and interest through the school resources and education.

Although the two mission statements sound very similar, I wish they had included the aspect of diversity and inclusion because engineers should be taught to be able to adapt to not only the changing and fast-evolving nature of technologies, but also the societal changes in regards to changes in politics, socio-economy statuses of general population, racial demographics, etc.