Lessons from the 2014 Steel Bridge Conference

This past weekend, the Ohio Valley Student Conference took place. UofL attended, competing with their 2014 bridge design. Each year, ASCE and AISC write rules to introduce the students to unprecedented challenges. That was no less true this year!

At the competition, 8 out of 12 bridges either disqualified or failed during loading. That is not an usual thing! If nothing else, this proves the challenges of this year’s rules. Unfortunately, UofL was one of those teams; you can’t win every time.

This year’s bridge had a dimensional disqualification which was unforeseen, as it only occurred when fully constructed. This is a great lesson for all engineers: it might work out on paper, but in real practice it can be a totally different story.

On a happier note, the UofL team had one of the quickest bridge construction times, and that is an impressive feat! The team has learned a lot from this year’s competition and is excited to bounce back next year!

Out of Our Element: Louisville Baja’s experience in Quebec

Winter 2014 in Louisville has been pretty rough compared to recent years; sub-zero temperatures, several inches of snow, and plenty of snow days and delayed schedule days on campus.  While in Canada, we accumulated more snow in 24 hours (the 72nd consecutive day of snowfall in Quebec) than we had in Louisville this winter!  Walking track to track on dynamic day usually meant sinking into waist deep snow at least once or twice and the tracks were not marked with cones but were just carved out of the snow that had accumulated over the past 72 days.  Travelling from Montreal to Quebec City was interesting as we were the only team to attend that did not own a set of snow tires for their truck.  We were clearly “Out of Our Element.”


Faculty Learning Community on Collaboration

The FLC is exploring ways to bring evidence-based collaborative learning techniques to engineering classrooms

The FLC is exploring ways to bring evidence-based collaborative learning techniques to engineering classrooms

A group of 7 faculty members from Speed are participating in a Faculty Learning Community (FLC) on Collaboration that is sponsored by the Speed School Center for Teaching and Learning Engineering.  Drs.  Marie Brown (Delphi Center) and Patricia Ralston (Engineering Fundamentals) are facilitators. The FLC is exploring ways to bring evidence-based collaborative learning techniques to engineering classrooms.  By properly structuring learning tasks to implement collaborative learning effectively, faculty help students learn the benefits of working together to improve both individual and collective achievement.

Faculty played a spirited game of HiHo CherryO to prepare for their session. They played the collaborative version where the goal is for the group to pick the cherries from the trees rather than compete against teammates.

Faculty played a spirited game of HiHo CherryO – the collaborative option where the goal is for the group to pick the cherries from the trees, rather than compete against teammates.

Faculty played a spirited game of HiHo CherryO – the collaborative option where the goal is for the group to pick the cherries from the trees, rather than compete against teammates.

Show me the money $$

I often get questions about salary data from our students and parents as well. Salary is a very important consideration when reviewing job offers. But I would also caution that there are other portions of the job offer that are very important as well.

When looking at a job offer you should consider (at the least):

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Bonuses
  • Perks
  • Start Date

Salary: You might have an offer in Seattle, Chicago, and Richmond, KY. If the amount is the same, you have very different offers. The cost of living in big cities is much higher than smaller cities and much higher on the coasts than in the Midwest. You can easier Google Cost of Living Calculators to compare the cost of living in different cities.

Benefits: Health Benefits are a HUGE consideration these days. Look not only at the cost of the coverage but also the coverage itself: co-pays, deductibles, dental and vision plans. I once had a friend that accepted a new job with a 30% increase in pay, but he actually took a monthly loss because the health benefits were so costly. Retirement is another VERY important factor. Look for a company match on a 401K, then put it whatever extra you can – believe in the power of interest! Vacation time is another benefit that new grads like to consider. Most companies will have a standard level of vacation but when comparing two offers, an extra week the first year will seem important when you suddenly realize that you lose your spring and fall breaks!!

Bonuses: Bonuses can have an substantial impact on your take home pay – stock options are more of a long term bonus. But company bonuses can triple your salary or offer a nice bump at the end of the year – depending on the terms. These are not very common but they do exist. I see a few students each year with bonuses. Most common are sign-on bonuses.

Perks: These are helpful as well: a company car, parking, health club memberships, or childcare are wonderful money savers.

Start Date: Some employers have group training established every June for new hires, other companies offer individual training, with this is mind, you might have some negotiation room with your start date.

If you are considering an offer – Engineering Career Center staff can assist you with terminology and considerations.

Starting salaries in 2013 for UofL Engineering graduates:

Major Average Offer Louisville Area Average Offer High Offer Low Offer
Chemical $60,143 (7) $55,750 (4) $70,000 $42,000
Civil & Environmental $46,862 (12) $47,355 (8) $55,000 $40,000
Electrical $63,761 (23) $59,318 (11) $78,000 $47,000
Computer Engineering & Computer Science $71,625 (8) $63,250 (4) $95,000 $50,000
Industrial $66,667 (3) (0) $71,000 $60,000
Mechanical $56,982 (24) $53,500 (10) $93,000 $45,000
BioEngineering $56,750 (4) (0) $68,000 $45,000
OVERALL $59,474 (81) $55,198 (37) $95,000 $40,000

Online Learning Improvement Plan

On Friday, February 28, Speed School Dean Neville Pinto sent the following message to engineering faculty and staff. It connects the school’s strategic plan with recent course evaluations to create a call for action to improve the design, development, delivery and assessment of Speed’s online courses and programs. We welcome your feedback and invite you to share your experiences with online learning, suggestions for improvement and ideas for potential new programs. Please contact me directly at todd.reale@louisville.edu or 502-852-5012.

A core element of the Speed School’s mission is to serve our university, community and profession by providing high quality engineering education programs. To realize our vision of becoming the preeminent provider of high quality, accessible and experiential-based engineering education, we must strive for excellence in all that we do. This includes not only attracting a greater diversity of motivated, prepared and talented students into all degree programs, but also engaging students with state-of-the-art engineering curricula and enhanced modes of delivery in our classrooms, labs and online.

We have analyzed course evaluations from 19,793 students enrolled in 1,604 sections of 363 courses taught by 177 instructors in eight departments from Fall 2011 through Fall 2013. While there are many reasons to celebrate and be proud of our departmental and individual accomplishments in both face-to-face and virtual settings, we must strive to close the gap between the two. In general, online courses are not as highly rated by students, particularly in the areas of instructor preparedness, content delivery, course format, use of illustrative examples and overall effectiveness. Students have also reported concerns about the quality and variety of course materials, appropriate use of learning technologies, communication with instructors and interaction with fellow students, as well as responsiveness to program inquiries and admission applications by prospective students.

Despite these general shortcomings, we know that online courses can be equally effective and successful compared to those delivered in the classroom. In its first semester last fall, our new online engineering management program outperformed the averages for all eight quantitative measures when compared not only to all other Speed online courses, but also to all Speed classroom-based courses. Moving forward, we are working with the university’s Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning to develop and implement plans that will help us improve the quality and consistency of both face-to-face and online courses.

  • Preparation: If they have not done so already, faculty planning to teach online courses should participate in specialized Delphi Center training. Those teaching this summer are asked to attend Survivor’s Guide training at the Speed School on four Fridays this spring. Those scheduled for next fall or spring will be asked to complete Delphi U prior to teaching online. Additional details will be communicated directly to faculty through the Office of Academic Affairs later this week.
  • Improvement: As part of the above training, current and future online instructors will be educated about Quality Matters, a faculty-centered peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. The QM Rubric will help us improve course design by assessing 41 clearly defined review standards and providing substantial, constructive and specific comments about course strengths and suggestions for improvement. At least eleven existing Speed online courses will be reviewed over the coming year and all new Speed online courses and instructors will be evaluated after one or two future offerings.
  • Development: Delphi Center staff will support us as we continue to develop, improve and expand our online offerings. Among other things, they will assist with faculty development; teaching with technology; instructional design; online program development, marketing, recruiting and student services; and Blackboard and other technology support services. They are a valuable on-campus resource for anyone wishing to improve teaching and learning in their classrooms or online.
  • Recognition: Two years ago, U.S. News and World Report started its annual ranking of Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs, which provides another opportunity for us to promote our growing online degree and certificate programs. Although the university decided not to participate while the methodology was still being developed in the first year, the Speed School was listed, but not ranked, in the most recent 2014 survey. Student engagement (30%), faculty credentials and training (25%) and student services and technology (20%) account for most of each school’s ranking. These broad categories include smaller factors, such as the presence of tenured and tenure-track faculty with terminal degrees, online teaching best practices training, certified instructional designers, technological infrastructure, collaborative coursework, required course evaluations and more. The above plans for training and assessment will help us communicate a more favorable message about the quality and value of a Speed School graduate degree or certificate.

In conclusion, there are many benefits to embarking on this plan to improve our online programs, including clearer standards, improved teaching quality, enhanced learning outcomes, expanded online offerings, more student enrollments, increased revenues for the school and academic departments, broader recognition, higher rankings and more. It is my hope that you will join me in adopting, supporting and participating in these new initiatives so that we can accomplish our goals, fulfill our mission and realize our vision together.

Upward Trajectory

by John S. Usher, Associate Dean

UofL J.B. Speed School of Engineering 2020 Strategic Plan

UofL J.B. Speed School of Engineering 2020 Strategic Plan

President James Ramsey proudly talks often about the University of Louisville, and its “upward trajectory”. Here at Speed School, we have a large number of initiatives underway that will help add some energy to keep that trajectory pointed in the right direction. We are working diligently on a plan to initiate the Institute for Product Realization and Innovation in the 39-acre Belknap Research Park that is being developed right behind Speed School. Look for a major announcement on that plan coming soon. Our Department of Engineering Fundamentals is establishing a Center for Teaching and Learning Engineering that will help us research and apply new approaches for delivering our courses. We are rolling out a new website in the next few weeks. We have implemented a new system called Digital Measures for recording and measuring faculty productivity. We have expanded our K-12 outreach programs and are even offering a summer camp in our fantastic cleanroom where students will actually make their own semiconductors. Our development office is busy with a large fundraising effort to finance a multi-million dollar renovation of the nearly 80-year old JB Speed Building. The architect’s plans reveal some exciting new features including a large glass atrium on the back of the building, a central staircase added to an open lobby, new student collaborative areas, space for new business operations, a Math Emporium and video production area, a rooftop garden, and a brick plaza behind the building. The plaza will change the back side of Speed School by replacing the existing parking lot with a beautiful space for students to gather, and relax and interact. The plaza will become the center of the Speed Campus and serve as an effective connection between JBS, Duthie, Sacket and WS.

We have so much going on that sometimes it’s hard to keep track of it all. For a more formal look at our plans, follow this link to see our strategic plan! https://louisville.edu/speed/StrategicPlan

Engineers’ Ball 2014 Date and Location Announced

Frazier History Museum

Join SSSC for an evening of dinner and dancing.

The 2014 Speed School Student Council Engineers’ Ball will be held on March 22 at the Frazier History Museum! Guests may arrive at 6:00 PM for a reception; dinner will be served at 7:00 PM. After dinner, the SSSC officers for the 2014/15 term will be sworn in, winners from E-Expo competitions will be recognized, and the W.S Speed Award recipient for 2014 will be revealed. Also, as the name ‘Engineers’ Ball‘ insinuates, there will be dancing! Tickets will go on sell at speedcouncil.org starting in March. Come celebrate Council, Speed School, and being an engineer!

Tyler Poteet – SSSC Director of Student Activities