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With more to come, we proudly present our SEFI2020 keynote speakers:

 Ruth Graham

"Celebrating and rewarding teaching: global collaborations for change"

Despite a shared mission across the higher education sector to drive positive educational change, it is widely recognised that career advancement for academic staff rests primarily on their research profile.  Such a research-centric university reward system imposes major barriers to innovation and change in engineering education.  However, a growing number of universities are fundamentally rethinking the ways in which academic achievements in teaching are supported, evaluated and rewarded.  Often working in collaboration with national or global peers, many are making fundamental changes to their academic career pathways and reward systems.  Implementing such systemic reforms, however, are not easy.  Their success often rests on whether the academic community trusts that these new policies will be delivered in practice by university decision-makers, as well as the alignment of wider institutional processes, such as annual appraisals.  A new cross-institutional survey has been launched to monitor the perceptions and experiences of the academic community throughout the change process.  Using three cross-sectional surveys, the Teaching Cultures Survey captures and tracks the perceived culture and status of teaching at universities across the world that are currently preparing for or already implementing systemic reform to their academic reward systems.  The first set of survey findings, released earlier this year, shines a spotlight on the experiences and perspectives of teaching amongst the academic community as well as the opportunities and barriers to change.

The keynote will highlight the global advances made in reforming academic career pathways and improving the recognition of university teaching.  It will also highlight findings from the 2019 Teaching Cultures Survey, in which over 15,500 academics participated from across 21 universities and 10 countries.  It will conclude by discussing how the momentum for improving the recognition of teaching can be advanced and sustained in the context of the rapid shift to online teaching and learning resulting from COVID-19 restrictions.

A Mechanical Engineer by training, Dr Ruth Graham specialised in aeronautical fatigue, working with BAE SYSTEMS for a number of years. In 2002 she moved to Imperial College London, where she became Director of the EnVision project, which sought to transform the undergraduate education across the Faculty of Engineering and improve its culture of support and reward for teaching excellence. Ruth has worked as an independent consultant since 2008. Her work is focused on fostering change in higher education across the world; helping to improve teaching and learning and supporting the emergence of technology-driven entrepreneurship within universities. Ruth’s recent projects have included a global benchmarking study on the future of engineering education, a multi-year initiative to improve the reward and recognition of teaching in higher education that is now supporting reform to the tenure and promotion systems of over 50 universities worldwide, and a cross-institutional teaching cultures survey, in which 20 universities are participating.

Greet Langie

“Focus on the exit to keep them in. Career development at the start of engineering education”

The world of work after the Covid-19 battle will look different. Career development will become even more important. Research has shown that a better understanding of the professional future has positive outcomes for student learning and job satisfaction. Knowing what an engineer is and what kind of engineer students want to be, requires the ability to critically reflect on personal interests and strengths and weaknesses. How can we support our students to become more aware of their engineering identity and the wide variety of career options?

Professor Greet Langie is since 2012 the vicedean of education of the Faculty of Engineering Technology at KU Leuven (Belgium). She’s responsible for the design and implementation of a completely new engineering curriculum, that in the end will be organized for more than 6000 students. As a researcher in Engineering Education Research, she founded LESEC, the Leuven Engineering and Science Education Center. This KU Leuven-community gathers researchers and practitioners contributing to the advancement of STEM education. Her research interests are in the domain of study career guidance: the transition from secondary education to higher education and the transition from university  to professional life. 

Professor Langie received the IGIP title ‘ING.PAED.IGIP h.c.’. She is active in several international networks such as: board member of SEFI, co-organizer of the IIDEA-summercourse at Tsinghua University and member of the BEST Advisory Board.

 Gerard van der Steenhoven

"Climate change teaching and the COVID-19 crisis"

In almost every educational engineering program around the world some time is spent on sustainability. And when explaining the importance of sustainability as a design criterium, the motivation often includes some sections on climate change.

Introducing climate change in a lecture is as such not very difficult, as the effects (melting ice sheets, extreme weather events) are visible everywhere. Still, after such a lecture many questions are asked – which is good – on the soundness of the evidence and the relevance of the mitigation and adaptation measures proposed.

In this keynote lecture I will show how both the ozone hole observed above Antarctica since the ’80-ies of the last century and the COVID-19 crisis we experience in 2020 serve as excellent examples on the reality of climate change. The key message being that these events unambiguously proof human influence on the chemical composition of the atmosphere. Moreover, these examples can also be used to show the effectiveness of mitigation measures.  The importance of these two examples cannot be underestimated in the light of discussion on the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.

The COVID-19 crisis brings suffering almost everywhere around the globe. This is clearly very regretful. In contrast to this, this worldwide crisis brings about educational innovations and advantages, which otherwise would have taken years to be introduced. For one, every student feels free to type a question in the chat box, not bothered by any social process going on in the group preventing her of him from posing the same question publicly. This reduced threshold may also apply to the usage of other digital tools aimed at increasing student participation.

Finally, I will take this opportunity to share with you some recent developments in climate change science which you should feel free to use in your own programs back home.

Professor Gerard van der Steenhoven is the general director of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) since 2014. He is also a parttime professor Meteorological and Climatological Disaster Risk Reduction at the Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) at the University of Twente. Before this, he was the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Twente. In that period he was also responsible for the start of the Twente Graduate School, which supports new researchers university-wide.

As the general director of the KNMI Van der Steenhoven is a board member of several international meteorological organisations such as WMO, EUMETSAT (chair), ECMWF, EUMETNET and ECOMET. He is an advisory board member of the Sonnenborgh museum in Utrecht, the Dutch Research Council NWO, the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research NIOZ, and the NLingenieurs. He also participated in several audit committees related to program accreditation.

Pierre Dillenbourg 

Escaping Reality: The Value of A in Augmented Reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality strive for realism. In virtual reality, the holy grail is to create photorealistic scenes in order to generate a true feeling of immersion. In augmented reality, developers aim to reach a perfect integration (alignment) between digital and physical objects. However, the added value of these environments for educational purposes is instead their difference with reality. Walking through a dense forest of neurons is not possible in the world. In learning environments, the A of AR does not refer to visual overlay of digitally-generated and camera-captured scenes but to enriching reality with pedagogical properties.  AR can make visible what is usually not visible, e.g. showing forces in the beam structure of a roof. AR allows non-realistic manipulations of reality such as changing the color of a flower, moving a planet or changing the season. In education, graphical realism is useful but not sufficient. What makes AR relevant is its partial freedom from raw fidelity, the opportunities AR offers to experience phenomena differently than the real world.

Pierre Dillenbourg is a full professor at the educational ergonomy lab of EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland). His projects combine the design, building, testing and researching of new learning technologies and online learning. Research areas include virtual reality, MOOCs , ergonomy, educational robotics and learning analytics. This has resulted in cutting-edge applications with European partners, as well as numerous master and phd theses. Pierre Dillenbourg heads the EdTech Collider incubator for new educational technology spin-offs.