Surviving the World

A Photocomic Education by Dante Shepherd

Lesson #3254 - 3257 - Reflections Following An Education Conference

So I was at the American Society of Engineering Education Chemical Engineering Division Summer School this past week. It's a conference for chemical engineering educators that only happens once every five years, and I've basically been waiting for my chance to attend for over five years. And, yeah, it was basically worth the wait. The whole conference was basically a giant reaffirming of my passion for teaching, and getting the experience of connecting with a ton of other people who share that passion in my field.

There were a ton of sessions offering ideas that you could take back to your own classes, ideas involving active learning or gamification or new course structures. There were repeated opportunities for sharing teaching approaches and techniques. Everyone wanted to help everyone else get better at what they do. It was just . . . great.

And I have so much hope for the direction of chemical engineering education. Ton of people I got to meet for the first time - Janie Brennan at Wash U, Kasi Kiehlbaugh at Arizona, Jonathan Verrett at British Columbia. Ton of people I got to know better - Amanda Simson at Cooper Union, Jennifer Pascal at UConn, Dan Anastasio at Rose-Hulman. A number of people I've admired their work for a while and got a chance to learn directly from them - Milo Koretsky at Oregon State, Margo Vigeant at Bucknell, and of course the great team of Rich Felder and Rebecca Brent. There's such great work being done and so many people committed to doing great work in the future. Sometimes when you get caught up in all the simple university-centric politics you can miss the broader work, and this was a good chance to appreciate that.

I cannot recommend this conference enough to anyone associated in this field of ours, and especially to anyone thinking of teaching in chemical engineering someday. And given how large the conference grew this time around, there's a good chance they'll be hosting it more often than every five years in the future, would be a fantastic opportunity for everyone - including the students who will simply be learning from what all these people bring back.

Teaching is the freaking best, you guys. I'm so excited for what comes next.