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New engineering education PhD program connects theory with practice

A new graduate program at The Ohio State University College of Engineering will bridge two of the institution’s core missions: educating future engineers and conducting world-class research.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Education degree builds on the Department of Engineering Education’s (EED) work in applied research, emphasizing teaching as a way of knowing. The program was approved by the university’s Board of Trustees and by the Ohio Department of Higher Education in April and July 2018, respectively.

According to EED Chair and Professor Monica F. Cox, graduate programs focused on engineering education research are an emerging trend around the world. That, coupled with the graduation of three PhD students with concentrations in engineering education from Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology, confirmed a need for such a program. By design however, Ohio State’s program will have an edge.  

Dept. of Engineering Education faculty and staff“Although engineering education PhD graduates in other programs primarily have obtained careers in academia, we anticipate that graduates of our program will pursue even more diverse pathways in areas such as industry, consulting and nonprofit and government sectors,” said Cox. “We are deliberately developing curricula that allow students to pursue such pathways.”

Graduate students will work closely with EED faculty advisors, teachers and mentors to explore a variety of engineering education research areas. They will disseminate their findings at annual conferences for the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and Frontiers in Education (FIE), and will complete theoretical and applied courses in qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods.

“One of the reasons the Department of Engineering Education was created in 2015 was to advance an engineering education research mission,” said Cox. “We anticipate that these students will emerge as well-rounded, experienced researchers as they pursue engineering education careers.”

Along with Cox, EED faculty and staff who will administer and support the new PhD program include: Graduate Program Chair and Professor Ann Christy; Professor Jeff Froyd; Assistant Professors Emily Dringenberg, David Delaine and Rachel Kajfez; and Graduate Program Coordinator Ana Casado.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Education consists of 80 credit hours. Coursework includes foundations and the field of engineering, engineering education practicum, engineering education research methods, statistical foundation of survey research, qualitative research in higher education settings, and survey and critical analysis of research in STEM. The program also includes 12 credit hours of special elective coursework and 12 credit hours of dissertation research.

Cox expects that enrollment will grow from 10 students in the first year to 40 students in year four.