Fulbright Program selects Engineering's Dr. Stephanie Farrell for prestigious award

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The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program awarded Dr. Stephanie Farrell, associate professor of chemical engineering at Rowan University, a grant to conduct research on engineering education at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in Ireland.

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, which operates in 155 countries worldwide, serves to increase the mutual understanding between U.S. residents and residents of other countries. Since its inception in 1946, the program has provided funding to approximately 300,000 students, faculty and other professionals to study, teach and conduct research, according to the organization.

Farrell was selected as one of about 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals to travel abroad during the 2014-2015 year.

One of a kind

Farrell said she couldn’t be happier to receive the only Fulbright award offered in her field.

“This is the only Fulbright program in the entire world specifically for engineering education,” she said. “I thought it was such a good fit.” 

While at DIT, Farrell will research the development of professional identity and retention among engineering students.

“Retention of students, especially in the first one or two years of college, is an important challenge in engineering education,” Farrell said. “At Rowan, we have implemented several strategies that have helped us achieve dramatically higher retention rates in Engineering.” 

Farrell said Rowan Engineering’s small class sizes allow for more faculty-student interaction, which builds a sense of community and ensures students receive adequate attention during and outside of class.

Rowan Engineering also offers a project-based curriculum that emphasizes experiential learning – another factor linked to retention, according to Farrell. 

High retention rate

“One indicator of the success of our innovative program is the 88.4 percent retention rate of our entering first-year students in the College of Engineering,” Farrell said. “This compares very favorably with first-year retention rates for science and engineering students in the United States, which average about 67 percent.”

Upon her arrival at DIT, Farrell said she hopes to support the integration of project-based learning into the University’s curriculum.

Farrell said she looks forward to building synergistic research collaborations with colleagues at DIT, which will continue after she returns to Rowan in fall 2015.

“I hope to bring back student opportunities – particularly opportunities for international exchange among our students,” she said.

Since Farrell’s arrival at Rowan in 1998, many other organizations have presented her with awards.

Multiple awards

The American Society for Engineering Education bestowed Farrell with numerous awards, including the 2001 Joseph J. Martin Award, the 2002 Ray W. Fahien Award, the 2003 Middle-Atlantic Section Distinguished Teaching Award, the 2004 National Outstanding Teaching Medal and the 2006 Robert G. Quinn Award. The ASEE presents these awards to candidates for outstanding teaching and educational scholarship in the field.

In 2010, the National Effective Teaching Institute also named Farrell as its fellow for the 2010 NETI Fellow program, which recognizes leaders in engineering education. As a NETI fellow, Farrell co-led the annual NETI workshop in Louisville, Ky, with three renowned engineering educators.

In 2012, the European Society of Engineering Education also awarded Farrell with an honorary degree in international engineering education.

While this award-winning faculty member prepares for her stay in Dublin, this experience is not Farrell’s first opportunity to showcase her skills on an international level.

Farrell traveled to Kazakhstan several times for engineering educational purposes, including her most recent trip in April. She also led several workshops on engineering education in India, including Hubli in January, Delhi in September 2013 and Kakinada in January 2012.

Outside of the classroom, Farrell even tackled the highest free-standing mountain in the world. In August 2012, Farrell climbed the 19,340-foot-high summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.  Upon returning to Rowan, Farrell brought back several stories and examples, which she incorporated into her lessons.   

 

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