Rowan professor helps further engineering education in own backyard and around the globe

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Dr. Stephanie Farrell doesn’t speak Russian, but the Rowan University chemical engineering professor does speak engineering and education quite well, thank you.

Dr. Stephanie Farrell doesn’t speak Russian, but the Rowan University chemical engineering professor does speak engineering and education quite well, thank you.

Armed with a stellar reputation as an engineer, professor and researcher, Farrell recently participated in a symposium in Kazakhstan that aimed to improve engineering education in that Central Asian country.

At “The Formation of Research Universities and Their Role in Innovative Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” Farrell addressed “Opportunities for Collaboration and International Exchange” in the land that borders, among other places, China, Russia and the Caspian Sea and was part of the former Soviet Union.

The three-day seminar at Al-Farabi Kazakhstan National University was Farrell’s second visit to Kazakhstan; last year she represented Rowan and the American Society for Engineering Education in educational collaboration discussions with that country.

Close to 60 people attended the recent symposium, which was by invitation only. Farrell sees the conference as a way to help develop engineering education in a country that exhibits great potential and also at Rowan.

“I think there are a lot of possibilities,” she said. “The interesting thing about Kazakhstan is they are well poised to emerge as leaders in technology and education in general. They have good resources, a stable economy, stable politics and they are open to change. They’re really committed to education. They invest something like 10 percent of their gross national product in higher education. And Al-Farabi Kazakhstan National University wants to become a world-class university.”

Farrell is exploring ways in which to build partnerships between Rowan and Al-Farabi Kazakhstan National University, which will benefit Rowan’s engineering students as well.

The conference also opened other doors for Farrell and Rowan Engineering. She made connections from people around the globe. “My email is like the U.N. this week,” she said. “I’ve heard from a professor from Japan who wants to establish programs with us, from Siberia, Malaysia and Brazil.”

Farrell has more engineering outreach in the works as well. She will conduct a workshop on effective teaching at JNT Technical University in India as part of a program devoted to  strengthening the Indian educational system in the areas of teaching and research.

Both sessions are a plus for Rowan in several ways.

“We’re getting great exposure for our college. It’s really good to spread the word about what we do,” Farrell said.

And, noted Interim Dean Dr. Steven Chin, “It’s important for us to recognize that we can learn from other educators in other countries as well. Technology plays a vital role not just on our campus but also in our country. We must continue to explore all avenues to advance technology education here at home.”

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