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A Faculty Commons Quarterly Volume 2 - Issue 2

December 2010

New York Ci t y College of T ech nolo gy of the City University of New York

Faculty Commons

Russell K. Hotzler President

A Center for Teaching, Learning, Scholarship and Service Julia Jordan, Acting Director Avril Miller, College Assistant

Bonne August Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Assessment and Institutional Research Tammie Cumming, PhD, Director Raymond Moncada, Institutional Analyst Rachel Tsang, Assessment Analyst

Miguel Cairol Vice President for Administration and Finance Gilen Chan Special Counsel/Legal Designee and Affirmative Action Officer

Grants Office Barbara Burke, Director Patty Barba Gorkhover, Associate Director Eleanor Bergonzo, Grants Specialist

Marcela Katz Armoza Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs

NSF I3 Coordinator Cinda Scott, PhD

Stephen M. Soiffer Special Assistant to the President/ Institutional Advancement Pamela Brown Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

Grants Outreach Coordinator 2010-2011 Professor Alexandra Emma Benardete Moll Faculty Fellows 2009-2011 Professor Lynda Dias Professor Victoria Lichterman

Barbara Grumet Dean, School of Professional Studies

Design Team Professor MaryAnn Biehl Professor Reneta Lansiquot Elva Hsieh, Abiezer Ramos, Bernita Wynn, Interns

Sonja Jackson Dean, Curriculum and Instruction

Curator Professor Lei Cai

Carol Sonnenblick Dean, Division of Continuing Education

Editors Barbara Burke and Julia Jordan Designer Natasha Marcano-Dillon Photographer Yaniferz Cantor

Professional Development Advisory Council (PDAC) Norbert Aneke Isaac Barjis Sidi Berri Karen Bonsignore Juanita But Sanjoy Chakraborty Lynda Dias Joycelyn Dillon 2

December 2010

Mary Sue Donsky Maria Giuliani Nien-Tzu Gonzalez Karen Goodlad Joel Greenstein George Guida Laina Karthikeyan Neil Katz

Roman Kezerashvili Mohammed Kouar Regina Lebowitz Zongmin Li Karen Lundstrem Djafar Mynbaev Mark Noonan Charles Porter

Marcia Powell Estela Rojas Walied Samarrai David Smith Sigurd Stegmaier Shauna Vey Debbie Waksbaum Denise Whethers

Gail Williams Darrow Wood Adrianne Wortzel Farrukh Zia

Sonja Jackson, Chair

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2


The role of the

“An Alliance of Geeks and Poets”?


Bonne August

at City Tech

How Grants Can Contribute to Institutional Transformation


Barbara Burke

A Faculty Commons interview with the project leadership team

Patty Barba Gorkhover

NSF I Project Coordinator Cinda Scott 3

Interview with Julia Jordan

is not simply foundational or

A Living Laboratory: Redesigning General Education for a 21st Century College of Technology City Tech Wins First NASA Grant

liberal arts

On the Horizon

Jeannette Wing — What is Computational Thinking? Magdolna Hargittai — How Do We Advance Women Scientists?




it is an essential

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facet of the education that we offer our students, who will be not only workers but also parents, citizens, artists, innovators, and leaders.

Printing Digital Imaging Center at City Tech

Bonne August

Cover photo: ‘strike’ the Set Entertainment Technology Students

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

December 2010


“An Alliance of Geeks and Poets”? This alliance of geeks and poets has generated exhilaration and also anxiety. The humanities, after all, deal with elusive questions of aesthetics, existence and meaning, the words that bring tears or the melody that raises goose bumps. Are these elements that can be measured? Patricia Cohen, “Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches.” New York Times, 17 November 2010: C1. This short excerpt from Patricia Cohen’s article offers so many tantalizing jumping-off points that it is hard to know where to start. As we at City Tech, with the help of Title V, initiate our “Redesign of General Education for a 21st Century College of Technology,” the context for the study of the humanities, nationally and internationally, is undergoing profound change. Some aspects of this change, including the introduction of digital tools and methods, promise new discoveries and knowledge, as well as opportunities for new forms of collaborative work. On a smaller, local scale, City Tech’s Title V grant will implement a digital platform, enabling students to represent their own experience and understanding of the liberal arts and link their general education meaningfully and personally to their career studies. Our faculty will collaborate across disciplines to redefine General Education for a 21st century college of technology. It would be a gross over-simplification, though, to characterize this crossdisciplinary faculty collaboration simply as “an alliance of geeks and poets.” In fact, the City Tech faculty defies this or any other facile characterization. Humanities scholars at our college have long since embraced their inner geeks, demonstrating not only a high level of theoretical sophistication but also well developed technical skill. Nor are our scientists, engineers, architects,


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and health professionals divorced from aesthetics or the humanities. The Core Text project and the two NEH-funded projects that paved the way for the current work in Gen Ed were led by faculty from across the range of disciplines, reflecting their commitment to broad educational values. The role of the liberal arts at City Tech is not simply foundational or instrumental; it is an essential facet of the education that we offer our students, who will be not only workers but also parents, citizens, artists, innovators, and leaders. They will need to make moral choices, evaluate complex situations, and tread turbid emotional waters. Seeing their professors engage in conversations and investigations across disciplines about difficult and complicated subjects— and themselves engaging in such conversations and investigations—may be the most important opportunity we can give our students. This is how they learn the value of different disciplinary perspectives, as well as the need to be both deeply informed about one’s own field of expertise and also able to converse with those from other fields or who hold different views. Across the nation, and as near as SUNY, however, extended study in the humanities is being curtailed as programs are being closed down in response to fiscal constraints. Universities are reducing duplication of programs

in some cases; in others, however, they may be impoverishing their curricula by eliminating instruction in subjects that are not financially profitable but are educationally priceless. In part, decisions to close humanities programs are related to rising interest in areas of study that appear to lead more directly or obviously to employment. When employment is tight, business and nursing seem safer or more practical choices than history, foreign languages, or philosophy. And proficient graduates in these fields are surely needed. But when the practical arts are divorced from the liberal arts, or the latter are dismissed as being impractical, education is in danger of becoming merely training, useful perhaps in the short term but not for the long haul, for the narrow purpose but not the broad spectrum. As long ago as 1854 in his satirical novel Hard Times, Dickens contrasted a purely utilitarian education, a reliance solely on “Fact,” with the need for “Fancy,” the power of imagination. More recently, in The Call of Stories and other writing, Harvard psychologist Robert Coles demonstrated the value of using fiction— novels and short stories—in the training of physicians, to develop empathy and emotional awareness. We cannot afford to ignore the “elusive questions of aesthetics, existence, and meaning.” And, as much or more than ever, we need the “words that bring tears . . . the melody that raises goose bumps.”

Bonne August, Provost Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

How Grants Can Contribute to INSTITUTIONAL TRANSFORMATION By Barbara Burke

City Tech has had a good run with major institutional grants recently. We can count eight current projects supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and five projects supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in as many years. A brand new NASA grant will expand research opportunities for students in space-related investigations. A five-year Strengthening Hispanic Serving Institutions grant from the U.S. Department of Education (Title V) will underwrite the redesign of General Education and support the creation of an innovative open digital platform for learning. It will also create an endowed Center for the Study of the Brooklyn Waterfront, enabling City Tech to consolidate its leadership in interdisciplinary research, placebased education, and related public programming. The high yield of proposals funded over the past couple of years raises the question of whether the college can sustain its current trajectory and continue to win major grants or whether there is some kind of natural limit to grants expansion based upon a relatively fixed institutional base. In my view, City Tech is far from realizing its full grants potential—momentum is high now and there are still many new directions to pursue. The faculty is only beginning to scratch the surface of research funding. As the NEH Along the Shore and the FIPSE US/EU ATLANTIS projects demonstrate, the City Tech faculty has much to offer professional colleagues both nationally

and abroad. Grants don’t only bring resources to the college; they also enable the college to share its intellectual capital with a wider audience. There is also potential to build upon current initiatives through an architecture of projects that work synergistically to strengthen the foundation of the college. For example, the NSF CPATH planning grant is meant to open dialogue on institutional transformation through computational thinking; happily,

There is no other means by which City Tech faculty can so readily test the originality and merit of their ideas... there is a new RFP out now from NSF called Computing Education for the 21st Century (deadline April 27, 2011). And as the College concludes our NSF ADVANCE—IT CATALYST planning grant to improve the climate for women faculty in STEM, we anticipate submitting a

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

much more ambitious proposal for a full scale ADVANCE implementation grant next year. Even at an under-resourced institution such as City Tech, grants are about far more than money. For those who participate in grant-funded projects, there is the pride and stimulation of taking part in innovative activities whose promise has been recognized on a national level. Winning major federal grants, some highly coveted, has put City Tech on the national higher education stage. Beyond the CUNY system, a natural constituency of prospective NSF and NEH applicants and current grantees can observe our performance and may wish to adapt successful City Tech models to their own institutions. Hence, the importance of dissemination. There is no other means by which City Tech faculty can so readily test the originality and merit of their ideas, their viability in the setting of the college, and the tangible benefits that they can be expected to bring to our community as by submitting them to a disinterested jury of professional peer reviewers. Proposal submission not only provides the faculty with immediate feedback on their ideas but, when a proposal is funded, provides a means of intellectual renewal, an opportunity for meaningful (re)connection with colleagues, and an impetus to recommit themselves to teaching as a critical intellectual and social profession within the context of a forward-moving institution.

December 2010


Photograph by Teddy Adolphe, ITMS

A LIVING LABORATORY Redesigning General Education for a 21st Century College of Technology

From left to right: Shelley Smith, Matthew Gold, Jody Rosen, Julia Jordan, Robin Michals, Roberta Matthews, Barbara Burke

Faculty Commons asked the Title V leadership team and project consultants to discuss the four program elements. I.


and that the seminar participants will consider various models that have worked in other institutions as they consider what will work best for us.

Describe past challenges to creating a strong General Education program at City Tech? What is different now? What barriers will Title V funding enable you to overcome? Matthew Gold: Even before the Title V grant was funded, Provost Bonne August had begun a college-wide reconsideration of the General Education curriculum. Do the courses we require of our students reflect the kinds of “knowledge, skills, and values” that Departments consider to be vital to the education of our students? This grant allows us to expand that conversation in important ways. Annual General Education seminars will offer faculty members the chance to research “highimpact educational practices”—such as learning communities, undergraduate research, capstone courses, and service


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Matthew Gold learning—and to consider ways in which they can be incorporated, in a systematic way, into our courses. We hope that these seminars will involve intense exploration into the scholarship of teaching and learning that surrounds these practices,

Julia Jordan: What’s different now? We have a significant number of faculty involved in the conversation, either directly through the College-wide General Education Committee, College Council Curriculum Committee, or through related grants that have built on a foundation in which faculty have permission to interact across disciplines and find that they enjoy working with each other. So we may be at that moment of re-imagining what’s possible. The General Education Seminar will provide Fellows with the opportunity to explore key issues in General Education as a field of scholarship. Can you name a few potential lines of inquiry that the seminar might pursue?

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

$3.1M U.S. Department of Education Strengthening Hispanic Serving Institutions (Title V) Grant Awarded to New York City College of Technology MG: Each year, the seminar will explore a specific year of the student experience; so that, for example, the first seminar will explore the experience of first-year students, the second seminar will explore the experience of second-year students, and so on. One issue we hope that the seminar will explore in the first year is the idea of a common first-year experience, perhaps through a theme-based seminar that all entering students would take. This is done at many other institutions, both within and outside of CUNY; what would it take to get that going here? What kinds of models work best?

and disseminating best practices, and this will be pursued by seminar fellows through two types of activities—through the implementation and assessment of particular practices in their own classrooms, and through research on current thought and practice in higher education. What type of education will prepare our students to live and work in a 21st century world? Which educational experiences will distinguish our students as they enter the workplace? What types of learning activities are most effective at developing transferable or flexible knowledge? How can we nurture powerful communication skills? There is a clear pragmatic rationale for implementing pedagogies of engagement in the delivery of General Education. Can you say a bit about the importance of High Impact Educational Practices in the context of an institution like City Tech—in particular those that involve hands-on inquiry and research?

Shelley Smith

Shelley Smith: This is a wonderful question because it frames the project as a form of scholarship, and that is exactly how I envision the seminars’ work on General Education. A broad range of interests will be reflected in the seminars over the course of five years. We will be focused on determining

MG: “High-impact educational practices” is a term coined by educational researcher George Kuh to describe a series of initiatives that have proven to be especially effective methods of improving student success. What’s particularly striking is that while they positively affect all students, they have proven particularly effective with underserved students. We hope to build on those strategies, and to concentrate especially on the laboratory model of education, which emphasizes the kinds of hands-on learning experiences that mark some of the most interesting classes at City Tech. I think here, for example, of the Green Walk that was supported by a CUNY grant a

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

few years ago; seeing students from Mark Noonan’s literature class read Brooklyn authors at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, while Reggie Blake’s students took measurements of various biological factors in the environment, while Robin Michals’ photography students took photos of the entire walk, highlighted the ways in which we can make the “living laboratory” of the Brooklyn Waterfront a center for teaching and learning at the College. Given that your goal is to place General Education squarely at the center of a City Tech education, how will the emergent focus on General Education be communicated to the wider college community and how do you plan to engage and sustain wider participation? Is there a role for adjunct professors, who comprise more than 40% of the teaching faculty? SS: It is imperative that this project engage the broadest possible participation, not only from the fulltime faculty, but also from our many dedicated adjuncts, students and other stakeholders. While the intensive seminars are underway, a number of the seminar events—including outside expert speakers, workshops and discussion groups—will be open to the college community. In the second year of each seminar, the fellows will disseminate their findings and continue their work by leading a “second wave” seminar that will include adjunct faculty. The grant provides a number of stipends for adjunct faculty, so they, too, can dedicate meaningful time to the project.

December 2010


What do you mean by the term “common intellectual framework” that will equip all graduates, no matter what their fields of study, to succeed in a rapidly changing professional environment? Are you speaking of a set of skills or a body of knowledge or something else entirely? SS: The College-wide General Education Committee has spent the past year exploring that question, and I am certain it will never be thoroughly answered! The Title V grant provides us with the time and resources to expand our exploration exponentially. What is the “common intellectual framework”—the constellation of knowledge, skills and values—that is shared by those who ultimately find success in their work, in their lives, and as local and global citizens? Five years from now, as a result of A Living Laboratory: Redesigning General Education for a 21st Century College of Technology, how do you expect that a City Tech education will differ from the education that is offered today? MG: The most exciting part of the grant is that we don’t know the specific


SS: City Tech today is in a state of transformation. Tremendous opportunities are presented by exciting grant-funded projects, by the College’s unflagging support for faculty development around teaching and learning, by energetic new faculty, and by rapid growth in technology-driven fields. But the College is also challenged by a fragmentation that comes from our status as a commuter college with a great diversity of highly specialized programs. The goal of the “Living Laboratory” is to create a unifying and compelling undergraduate experience around General Education, one that is uniquely appropriate to a college of technology, one that permeates curriculum in all disciplines and majors, one that is

understood and valued by students and faculty. Daniel Wong: What is particularly fascinating about this project is that instructors and students will all take an active role in the structure of the education process. Through a flexible technology framework, the learning process becomes a living organism—one is able to wander, grow, explore. This freedom has the potential to create self sufficient, determined, problem solving, conceptual thinkers.

Dan Wong


The open digital platform for learning has the potential to catalyze a whole new approach to faculty-student interaction. How will it promote a shift from an environment in which faculty primarily lecture and grade students to an environment in which faculty help students learn by other means? MG: I’m tremendously excited about this platform, which is something that many faculty members at the College have desired for some time now. We’re going to create a site that builds on


answers to that very good question. We know something about the general characteristics that we hope the curriculum will have at the end of the grant period, but the central purpose of the Gen Ed seminars is to hash out exactly what specific changes we need to see. I can say that in the end, we hope to have a curriculum in which General Education is fully connected to the majors—a connection that has to go both ways in order to be effective.

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other projects at CUNY, such as Blogs@ Baruch, the Macaulay Honors College ePortfolio site, and the CUNY Academic Commons. The essential step that all of these platforms take, in contrast to a platform like Blackboard, is that they are open by default. That doesn’t mean that everything that happens on them is public, but simply that they offer a much greater possibility of making education public and transparent than is currently possible on a closed platform. What that produces is a type of educational experience that is not sequestered

from the world, but instead is part of it. Students learn that they are writing not just for their professor, but rather for their fellow students and for the wider public. Professors learn that they can connect their classes more easily to public life, thus erasing the artificial boundaries and walls that we too often erect around our educational experiences. This platform will give our students and professors more direct control over the work that they create for their courses. They will have greater flexibility in the

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

appearance, structure, and privacy of their work, and they will be able to have a portable and lasting record of their achievements that reflects the intellectual development they have undergone during their years at the College. All of this is possible because we will be using an open-source platform that we can customize for the particular needs of our students and faculty. How will the open digital platform support the creation of a more holistic student experience? MG: Right now, it’s very difficult for students to use a tool like Blackboard to connect their classes to one another during a given semester or over the course of a college career. We intend for our platform to open up new kinds of collaborative possibilities between classes and between students, to make sure that the learning that happens in one class can be built on in another—and that students have concrete records, under their own control, of those experiences. Importantly, we will make sophisticated use of social media in such a way that students can get to know one another— and their faculty members—much better. That’s particularly important in a commuter institution like ours. But it goes beyond making friends; we (and by “we” I mean those of us in higher education) need to take account of the fact that teaching and learning no longer takes place solely in the classroom. I don’t think it ever did—peer-to-peer learning has been going on for as long as schools have existed, and the idea that college education was centered only in courses has been a convenient fiction—but we now have the tools to integrate that more informal learning into the institution itself in profound ways that have the potential to radically shift the nature of the educational experience. I’m truly excited to explore

these possibilities with the team, and I’m especially glad to be working with Maura and Dan on this project, since they bring such thoughtfulness, care, and skill to the project. Maura Smale: We can think of this space as a virtual quad, in a way: a place for students not only to learn but also to participate as members of the City Tech community, even when they are not physically on campus. DW: The platform requires that the students become aware of their public intellectual persona. A certain level of responsibility is needed, while still giving users the opportunity to revoke, correct, and clarify their positions. I hope that this will motivate students and educators, to challenge themselves. Technology has surprisingly revived the art of writing in unexpected ways. Social media like Twitter has in fact challenged users to become concise authors rather than sloppy, lazy communicators as some initially predicted. Users are not only thinking about words, but the characters needed to give a word nuanced meaning. Perhaps I’m being too philosophical, but it is interesting how everything is open for reinterpretation, and how ideas are directing us. Will use of the platform require advanced technical skills? MS: Not at all! We are exploring many open source technologies for this project, and are committed to building a platform that is easy for faculty and students to use and customize. No knowledge of computer programming or web development will be required to use the platform to offer courses, create sites and blogs, or interact with fellow City Tech faculty and students. We will also have many opportunities for training and mentoring of faculty and students along the way.

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Maura Smale DW: Definitely not. It will be very userfriendly. The platform can be used in traditional ways, such as simply documenting feedback to a reading or structuring research for a paper. The platform will also be incredibly flexible. So it is also useful for creative thinkers and learners. The sky is the limit. And the grant includes custom development, so if it doesn’t do what we want now, we can make it happen. MG: No, it shouldn’t require advanced skills, but it should require—and promote—the kinds of information literacy skills that are becoming ever more important in an increasingly networked world. Can you give an example of how the mapping work that you envision on the open platform will contribute to the coherence of the student experience? Emma Benardete Moll: I envision that the mapping tool on the open platform will allow each student along with his or her advisor to visualize a chosen pathway of study helping the student make informed decisions from day one. The mapping tool will ask for background information, such as foreign language knowledge, specialized skills,

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Emma Benardete Moll and cultural knowledge. Currently when a student enters college, the student is considered a tabula rasa, starting at level 0; the student’s background will erase that misconception. If he or she already has a specialized skill or knowledge, e.g., a foreign language, then the mapping tool will identify for the student courses


that will leverage that knowledge, not ignore it. Then, as the student progresses, the map will show where he/she has been and where one could go, not just by showing the required courses for a degree but highlighting the common knowledge, skills, and values among courses across the disciplines. This should make clear that even courses outside a student’s discipline reinforce knowledge and skills necessary for success in any given career path. The mapping tool would also help with roadblocks. If a student feels discouraged after a year of study that his or her chosen discipline is not right, instead of leaving college and waiting for some epiphany of another career path, the mapping tool could show the student the collective knowledge, skills, and values that were gained in the first year and how the student could apply this knowledge in other fields of study. Students would see that their efforts are never wasted. Upon graduation, the mapping tool would provide a final

document showing a student’s entire progression. This document would help guide self-assessment as well as assessment of the college experience. The model for this tool can be found in healthcare. Hospitals routinely do selfassessment and external reviews by doing Tracer Rounds in which a group of professionals follow the path of a patient from admitting through diagnosis and treatment, asking protocol questions of all the personnel that would come in contact with the patient along the way. Similarly, this mapping tool would be a way of ‘tracing’ the student from day one, so that feedback could be analyzed throughout the student’s career. It would be a way of identifying ‘bumps in the road’ that are singular to an individual as well as ones that are shared by a majority of students. The desired outcome for the patient and the student are similar, an overall sense of health and well-being and preparedness to face life’s challenges.


Tammie Cumming: Recognizing City Tech’s strong commitment to assessment for enhancing academic excellence, how do you suggest that each school and the college in general, develop an assessment and evaluation process that is embraced by the faculty? Barbara Grumet: Most of the programs in the School of Professional Studies are accredited by outside accrediting bodies and are already doing various assessment activites to meet these standards. I see the City Tech process as a way to complement the work already being done in departments, and a way to help them streamline and improve this work. Bonne August: Assessment needs to be useful to the faculty. When they have taken the trouble to articulate with care

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this need. It can help us become better and more effective teachers.

Tammie Cumming the things they want students to know or be able to do, then they will welcome information about whether students actually do know or can do these things— and how well. Good assessment serves

Additionally, in the School of Technology and Design, more than half of the departments hold separate accreditations for their programs, in particular, accreditation by TACABET for programs in engineering technology. Since the continuous quality improvement expectation for these programs requires ongoing assessment, any added assessment that the College requires needs to support and amplify, rather than duplicate or complicate, these accreditation requirements. Pamela Brown: Assessment of student learning will drive curricular changes and improvements. As such the “under construction” sign will always be up in

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

the School of Arts and Sciences and across the disciplines at City Tech. One important component of assessment is development and measurement of valid learning outcomes, so that what is measured is valued by the faculty as important. The next step will be faculty review of the student learning outcomes and consensus on a strategy to improve student learning. Learning outcomes will then be measured again to determine the effectiveness of the new approaches; this re-review may result in additional changes to the curriculum. Using this approach, a cycle of continuous improvement will be created. It has been said in jest that inside every C+ student is a B- student trying to get out. Our assessment efforts will go


beyond simple grading to discovering strategies to help our students develop a critical understanding in their courses so that they can apply, analyze and evaluate what they have learned. TC: With the different grant activities occurring within the scope of the Title V grant, what are the major challenges of coordinating an evaluation that will provide us with meaningful information as we are implementing our grant activities, as well as coordinating and planning for a summative evaluation upon the culmination of the project? Thomas Laird: The project has several different major activities and key goals for each. The biggest challenge at this point is turning the evaluation plan into a set

of evaluation processes that will provide key stakeholders with information to both judge project success and improve project activities. With different activities and goals, the next challenge will be in dealing efficiently with the information that is collected so that evaluation findings can be used. If we meet these initial challenges thoughtfully and with enthusiasm, the planning and coordination of a final summative evaluation should not be challenging tasks. All of the necessary information should be in place and accessible and the team (and institution) will already know where things went well and where there is room for improvement. My job will be to bring that information together and add an outside perspective to the judgments about project success.


The creation of an endowed Center for the Study of the Brooklyn Waterfront will enable City Tech to stake a permanent claim on its local environment as an active locus of research, curriculum development, and public engagement. Can we fast forward and ask you to describe the Center’s work once it is up and running? Richard Hanley: The Center for the Study of the Brooklyn Waterfront has three missions—research, education, and outreach. Each of these missions should inform the other two. Once we have the Center up and running we will be seeing research fellows in a variety of disciplines working on projects, some of their own devising, some commissioned by outside agencies. An important component of the research will be the involvement of student researchers. For instance, New York’s Department of City Planning is undertaking Vision 2020, an assessment of the city’s waterfront; the Planning Office has indicated to

or sociological projects. In this instance we see how the work students would be doing could inform the curriculum in various programs.

Richard Hanley us their need for student assistants for examination of soil samples collected at particular locations along the waterfront. An effort like this could be done with student researchers working under the supervision of a Center Faculty Fellow. This would be just one kind of research. There might be historical projects, literary projects, architectural projects,

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In five years the Center might be sponsoring a series of public meetings to discuss how the City’s Vision 2020 Waterfront plan is being implemented at the half-way point. Various stakeholders would be brought in to offer opinions, observations, and facts about the original goals of the plan and how those goals are or are not being met. One other way the Center will do outreach is to offer NEH summer institutes as we did during the summer of 2010. This program can also be adapted to high school teachers as well as community college teachers. In this way, the pedagogies that we develop as a result of Title V could be employed in some of the city schools. Finally, we expect our research fellows to be publishing results of their work under the auspices of the Center.

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Peter Spellane

Peter Spellane: In the recent past, there have been significant developments in the use of maps as sources of historical and contemporary information. Online maps are digitized, easily portable, searchable, and open to comment. We carry volumes of maps with us in our cellphones. Our GPS-receiving devices let us know where exactly we stand on the surface of the earth, and the recently digitized historical maps can tell us what happened, or could have happened at any location in the recent or distant past. Digital maps enable us to locate ourselves in both time and space. These are new and potent tools for studying place; as researchers working

along the Brooklyn waterfront, we have plenty to observe and study.

initiative, she established the Science, Technology and Research (STAR) Early College High School. STAR graduated its first class in June 2007, with 72 of its original 76 students receiving their degrees. Dr. Matthews was the founding Director of the CUNY Honors College: University Scholars Program. Dr. Matthews has published widely, offering workshops on learning communities and active learning at colleges and universities across the country. Dr. Matthews will inform the Title V project by making her substantial experience with General Education program development a resource for faculty and administration as they create a signature General Education program based upon course-related student learning outcomes.

Dr. Laird’s research focuses on effective teaching practices, student experiences with diversity, and deep approaches to learning. His recent publications appear in the top journals in his field, including the Journal of Higher Education. His research has been recognized by higher education associations, such as the Association for the Study of Higher Education and the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, and a project funded by the Teagle Foundation.

Who will the primary beneficiaries of the Center be and how will they benefit? SS: The Center for the Study of the Brooklyn Waterfront is an incredibly exciting and ground-breaking venture for our institution. I look forward to it becoming a significant part of the City Tech image and reputation. The scholarly, educational, and civic activities of the Center will benefit students, faculty, the community, and the City in ways we have only begun to define.

Roberta Matthews

Dr. Roberta S. Matthews, General Education Consultant holds a doctoral degree in modern British and Irish Literature. She served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Brooklyn College through 2007 where she played a key role in creating a new strategic plan, envisioning the new core curriculum and creating new undergraduate and graduate programs. In 2003, in partnership with the NYC Department of Education and the Gateway Institute, and as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Dr. Thomas F. Nelson Laird, External Evaluator teaches in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program of the Indiana University School of Education. Since 2003, Dr. Nelson Laird has worked on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and its related surveys. He is the Project Manager for the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) and studies teaching and learning issues using data from both.

Copyright ®

Photograph by Teddy Adolphe, ITMS


Thomas Nelson Laird

Nucleus: A Faculty Commons Quarterly Vol 2 – Issue 2

City Tech Receives NASA Grant: The Sky Is Not the Limit

By Patty Barba Gorkhover

will give HCC students an opportunity to attend City Tech engineering technology programs as well by this alignment of curriculum. The grant also includes a well-designed research component that will support ten summer internships per year. Partnerships will be built with NASA centers including Goddard Space Flight Center, Marshal Space Flight Center and National Biomedical Space Research Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine. “Students are excited” states Dr. Gailani, “but don’t know exactly what NASA is doing; these opportunities are a big move in the right direction for students to be the future workforce of NASA and NASA-related industries.”

Gaffar Gailani

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Education Integration Division of Minority University Research and Education Program has awarded City Tech a Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award for the Integration of Research into the Undergraduate Curriculum (CIPAIR) for a project entitled Achieving Proficiency in Engineering Research and STEM Education through NASA Initiatives. The project will be led by Dr. Gaffar Gailani of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology (MET). Team members include Dr. Sidi Berri, MET Chair, Dr. Reginald Blake, Physics, and Dr. Nieves Angulo of the Mathematics Department at Hostos Community College (CUNY). City Tech is proud have won NASA support for this project which will aid the

development of analytical and research skills of undergraduate students, attract minority students to STEM fields, increase student transfer rates into graduate school, and expand research opportunities for faculty and students at NASA. “As soon as you mention NASA, students will start paying attention,” said Dr. Gailani. The project will support the revision of three courses at City Tech: Engineering Simulation, Materials Testing Lab, and Computer Applications in Mechanical Engineering and two courses at Hostos Community College (HCC): Differential Equations and Linear Algebra to incorporate NASA-relevant material. Two new multidisciplinary courses will be created—Introduction to Research Management and Special Topics in Remote Sensing. The HCC engineering programs most often transfer students to City College (CUNY) but this project

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A local partnership is also planned with the New York City Research Initiative (NYCRI). Sponsored by the NASA Education Office, NYCRI has a summer research institute where teams of high school students, undergraduate students and faculty work with graduate students alongside lead scientists of NASA-funded projects at the universities within a 50 mile radius of NYC or at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) under the mentorship of GISS scientists. City Tech will leverage assistance from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program to support student internships. This NASA award is a welcome addition to recent grants focusing on strengthening City Tech’s STEM initiatives, with a focus on combining curriculum development, student research and internship opportunities. We look forward to seeking more support from other federal agencies for STEM projects that involve students in research.

December 2010


Cinda Scott, PhD NSF I3 Project Coordinator

An Interview with Julia Jordan Dr. Cinda Scott was raised in Lexington, MA and received her undergraduate degree from Middlebury College where she joint majored in Environmental Studies and Biology with a focus in Conservation Biology and minored in Spanish. Her love of ocean science flourished as an undergraduate when she studied abroad in Costa Rica in a tropical marine biology program. Dr. Scott was a recipient of a fellowship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Educational Partnership Program and a scholarship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She completed her PhD in 2009 from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami in the department of Marine Biology and Fisheries. Her work focused on understanding the genetic basis of gene expression in the teleost fish, Fundulus heteroclitus. Her graduate work was a combination of marine science, molecular genomics and field studies. Dr. Scott is an avid cyclist, a core member of SKIN: The Tina Thompson Dance Company and volunteers as a skating coach for Figure Skating in Harlem. Julia Jordan: What attracted you to the NSF I3 project? Cinda Scott: I am a scientist with deep concern for how students learn science and the way in which they are exposed to the techniques used to answer important questions about our natural world. My interest in the NSF I-Cubed project stems from my concern that too few students in the United States successfully enter careers in the STEM disciplines thereby having a direct effect on our economy, our education system and our ability to keep up in an increasingly technologically advanced world. The I-Cubed project presents a unique opportunity for me to combine my scientific background and experience with my concern for science education and to provide greater opportunities and increased success for students at City Tech. JJ: What do you think is the biggest challenge? CS: I think the biggest challenge will be bridging the stand alone STEM disciplines. For example, how can we introduce the importance of robotics in a biology laboratory? Robotics is indeed an essential part of how biological industries prepare multiple samples, do high-throughput sequencing and understand gene

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expression. There are ways to incorporate different aspects from disciplines that may seem distant from each other, but the challenge lies in how exactly to do this. The current industry standards for each STEM department must be determined to incorporate this kind of research into the laboratory and to be able to intertwine the aspects of one discipline with another. This will be challenging, but with the help of the faculty and understanding their concerns I believe it will be a success. JJ: What do you hope to achieve? CS: My primary goal is to increase opportunity for students in the STEM disciplines. I hope to achieve this by interacting with the faculty to determine what kinds of tools are needed in order to increase student participation and make lab courses more relevant to the needs of outside industry partners. Once we know what is needed, faculty can be better equipped to integrate current industry practices in to their lab course work. I hope to learn from the faculty what industries are important to their fields and what partnerships or relationships are most beneficial for City Tech students.

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On the Horizon

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Spring 2011, Faculty Commons is delighted to welcome expert STEM scholars, Professors Jeannette Wing and Magdolna Hargittai to lead us in conversations about the impact of teaching, scholarship and service in the 21st century.

What is Computational Thinking? Dr. Jeannette Wing on February 4, 2011

Professor Wing’s general research interests are in the areas of trustworthy computing, specification and verification, concurrent and distributed systems, programming languages, and software engineering. Her current interests are on the foundations of trustworthy computing, with a focus on reasoning about privacy. She is a member of Sigma Xi, Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, and Eta Kappa Nu. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

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An NSF CPATH grant has enabled City Tech faculty to explore the concept of computational thinking as a critically important and pervasive mode of thought that cuts across all disciplines. Dr. Jeannette Wing, one of the seminal thinkers in the area of computational thinking, is the President’s Professor and Head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. She received her S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 2007-2010 she was the Assistant Director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation.

How Do We Advance Women Scientists? Dr. Magdolna Hargittai on February 25, 2011 A City Tech NSF ADVANCE—IT Catalyst project, Research, Reflect, Plan, is investigating structural barriers to the advancement of women scientists that may prevent full realization of their scientific potential within our academic community. It is within this context that City Tech welcomes Dr. Magdolna Hargittai, who will provide a cross-national perspective on the condition of women in science, mathematics, and technology. The intriguing topic of missing recognition, despite women’s accomplishments in different areas of the sciences, will be explored. Based on a book series coauthored by Dr. Hargittai called Candid Science, a large project of interviews with famous scientists, the authors realized

that there were conspicuously few women among the interviewees, a consequence of there being very few women among the famous scientists. So the project branched out to identify and interview women scientists specifically to address the question of why so few women are represented at the highest levels of achievement and recognition. Dr. Hargittai is Research Professor at the Materials Structure and Modeling Research Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. She is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and of the Academia Europaea (London). She has a Ph.D. degree

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from Eötvös University, D.Sc. from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina. Her latest books include Symmetry through the Eyes of a Chemist, Third Edition (Springer 2009, 2010) and Visual Symmetry (World Scientific 2009).

December 2010


NSF ATE-Funded Mechatronics Lab

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Nucleus Vol.2 Issue 2 A Faculty Commons Quarterly