NSF - DUE: Collaborative Research: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Prepare Undergraduates for Data Science Using Real-World Data from High Frequency Monitoring Systems
Award Abstract #1915268
Award Amount: $266,405
Duration: October 2019 - September 2023
With support from the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education Program: Education and Human Resources (IUSE: EHR), this project aims to serve the national interest by improving undergraduate understanding of data science. It will accomplish this goal by incorporating data science concepts and skill development in undergraduate courses in biology, computer science, engineering, and environmental science. Through a collaboration between Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt University, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the project will develop interdisciplinary learning modules based on high frequency, real-time data from water and traffic monitoring systems. The project intends to develop a common approach for introducing data science concepts in STEM disciplinary courses. By embedding data science into a variety of undergraduate STEM courses and creating a partnership that includes a Historically Black College/University, this project has the potential to broaden participation in data science, including participation of students from populations that are underrepresented in data science and/or STEM fields. This project will develop data science learning modules to implement in eight existing STEM courses at the collaborating institutions. The learning modules will be motivated by real-world problems and high-frequency datasets, including a water monitoring dataset from Virginia Tech, and transportation and building monitoring datasets from Vanderbilt. The learning module topics will include: Interdisciplinary Learning, Data Analytics, and Industry Partnerships. These topics will facilitate incorporation of real-world data sets to enhance the student learning experience and they are broad enough that they can incorporate other data sets in the future. The project aims to develop and implement an interdisciplinary collaborative approach to support undergraduate students in developing data science expertise through their disciplinary course work. Such expertise will better prepare students to enter the STEM workforce, especially those STEM professions that focus on smart and connected computing. The project will investigate how and in what ways the modules support student learning of data science. The project will also investigate how implementation of the modules varies across the collaborating institutions. It is expected that the project will define key considerations for integrating data science concepts into STEM courses and will host workshops to introduce faculty to these considerations and strategies so they can incorporate the learning modules into the STEM courses that they teach. The project collaborators will provide the framework for generalizing and transferring the learning modules to other STEM education communities, thus broadening the scope and the impact of this project beyond the three collaborating institutions. The NSF IUSE: EHR Program supports research and development projects to improve the effectiveness of STEM education for all students. Through the Engaged Student Learning track, the program supports the creation, exploration, and implementation of promising practices and tools. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
NSF - REU Site: Interdisciplinary Water Science and Engineering
Award Abstract #1659495
Award Amount: $439,436
Duration: March 2017 - February 2020
This three year renewal of a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site Program offers an interdisciplinary research experience to a diverse cohort of students on projects leading to sustainable management of water resources in an interdisciplinary environment. New features of this renewal program include an international component in India and collaboration of some of the REU scholars with VT RET Site participants. The Site will expand the pool of future researchers in water science who will address one of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges, provide access to clean water. VT will host 10 REU scholars over a 10-week summer program where they will be provided with a high-quality learning environment which:
- stimulates their scientific curiosity in interdisciplinary water research and motivates them to pursue advanced degrees in water sciences and engineering;
- trains them to communicate scientific information through research papers, seminars, and presentations; and
- facilitates their social, intellectual, and professional growth. Twelve faculty mentors from diverse academic disciplines will direct REU Scholars' research.
NSF - RET Site: Water ECubeG (Engineering, Ecology, Environment, Geosciences)
Award Abstract #1609089
Award Amount: $610,000
Duration: June 2016 - May 2019
To "Provide Access to Clean Water" is one of the 14 Grand Challenges identified by the National Academy of Engineering. A recent United Nations report projects that virtually every nation will face a water supply problem within the next 20 years. A key component to any solution to address water-related challenges is to educate our youth about the interdisciplinary aspects of water research to make them aware of water-related issues; and to train them as future professionals who will develop appropriate solutions to meet these challenges. This Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science Site, titled Water ECubeG (Engineering, Ecology, Environment, Geosciences) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) has many objectives. The overarching goal is to develop a model 6-week professional development program to engage grades 9-12 STEM teachers and community college faculty in Southwest Virginia in interdisciplinary water research. Successful implementation of this RET Site will result in the development of innovative learning modules that will motivate students in grades 9-12 and community colleges to pursue the breadth of water related STEM careers. The proposed region for teacher recruitment will enable many teachers to educate a diverse group of students throughout Southwest Virginia serving high-need rural and urban student populations. The Site's focus on interdisciplinary water research will enable early exposure of future scientists and engineers to critical issues for solving complex water problems such as pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. The goal of this Site is consistent with the priorities identified by the Virginia Governor's office and upon successful completion this Site will serve as an excellent model for teacher and student training in interdisciplinary water research elsewhere. Over a three-year period this RET Site will offer an intensive summer interdisciplinary water research experience to a total of 30 STEM precollege teachers and community college faculty. The specific objectives are to:
- Develop and implement a 6-week research experience program for RET Site participants involving hands-on learning experiences in engineering, ecology, environment, and geosciences,
- Develop and implement a professional development program for teachers,
- Guide RET Site participants in developing and implementing STEM-based interdisciplinary water research learning modules for their curricula, and
- Establish a community of teachers mentored in interdisciplinary water research for support, collaboration, and dissemination of Site activities to a larger group of teachers.
Annual workshops will be held by RET alumni to educate and motivate additional 9-12 STEM teachers and community college faculty. RET participants will present their work at K-12 and Community College conferences. The project outcomes will be published through the TeachEngineering digital library.
NSF - IRES: Multidisciplinary Water Engineering Research and Education to Protect and Enhance Ecosystems in Complex Environments
Award Abstract #1658604
Award Amount: $299,743
Duration: March 2017 - February 2020
This IRES program will offer water engineering research experiences to civil and environmental engineering students who are making the transition from undergraduate-to-graduate study. Participants will conduct research within one of the leading water engineering units in the world, in some of the finest labs globally, and within extremely complex environments. They will tackle one of three environmental fluid mechanics project areas using field measurements, physical modeling, and numerical methods: 1) Coastal hazard mitigation ecosystem services; 2) Contaminant remediation; and 3) River bed destruction. Each of these areas connect to ongoing research at the University of Queensland sponsored by major government, nonprofit, and industry agencies. As the strain on water resources and ecosystems intensifies, it is becoming increasingly important to educate engineers to be ready to face complex issues related to water monitoring and management that stretch across national boundaries. The field of water engineering requires a broader educational approach beyond traditional curricula, as today's water engineers face challenging and interdisciplinary issues that combine concepts and methods beyond existing theories and data and instead require a research focus. In addition to the water engineering research component, this IRES program will make important contributions to water engineering education more broadly, as it will produce research focused on how to enhance the education of water engineers and how and why students develop in these kinds of international research experiences.
NSF - IRES: US - China Collaboration: Bats as Model Organisms for Bioinspired Engineering
Award Abstract #1658620
Award Amount: $250,000
Duration: February 2017 - January 2020
Bats are capable of swift, autonomous navigation through complex, natural environments - a feat that cannot be replicated by engineers at present. The central hypothesis behind this research is that system-level synergies between sensing, mobility, and control functions are critical factors behind achieving these unmatched capabilities of bats. To understand how these system-level synergies arise in nature, participating students will be advised by faculty teams spanning six departments to conduct interdisciplinary research projects centered on one of the following topics:
- acoustical scene statistics of natural bat habitats,
- dynamic biosonar sensing,
- maneuvering flight,
- neural control,
- physiological basis of sound emission and reception.
All student projects will be based in the Shandong University - Virginia Tech International Laboratory in China.
The educational outcomes of the project will be undergraduate and graduate students with interdisciplinary skills between biology and engineering that will allow them to interpret biological functions from an engineering perspective and within their respective biological contexts. Furthermore, the IRES trainees will acquire intercultural competencies to work effectively in international teams. The project's scientific outcomes will enable engineers to design better integrated autonomous systems, e.g., self-navigating drones, that will have bat-like capabilities to deal with natural, unconstrained environments, such dense vegetation.
NSF - EDU: Development and Analysis of a Spiral Theory-based Cybersecurity Curriculum
Award Abstract #1623047
Award Amount: $299,948
Duration: September 2016 - August 2019
In this SaTC-EDU project at Virginia Tech, faculty members and graduate students in the Engineering Education, Computer Science (CS), Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) and the Hume Center for National Security and Technology in College of Engineering are collaborating to develop and implement a unique curriculum delivery model in cybersecurity into the CS and ECE curricula using Jerome Bruner's spiral theory approach. A theme of software security for cyber applications is chosen to develop and implement cybersecurity learning activities across several required courses in CS and computer engineering curricula, impacting more than 300 students each year. Investigators are also conducting cybersecurity learning research using a mixed methods research design. Two research questions are being investigated: (i) How effective are the spiral theory-based learning levels in enhancing students' core knowledge and skills in cybersecurity?, and (ii) How does students' motivation vary across gender, ethnic backgrounds, academic levels, and disciplines when participating in the cybersecurity learning levels? This research contributes in identifying characteristics of cybersecurity learners and developing education and training programs targeted at engaging a broad range of students (e.g., students from various ethnic backgrounds) in STEM education, particularly in cybersecurity. The investigators plan to conduct a workshop at the site of Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) to share results with national and international educators.