Posted November 26th, 2015 by Tyler Irving & Kelli Seepaul

Engineering for Educators builds bridges with local teachers

  • Micah Stickel, chair of first year engineering

    Micah Stickel, chair of first year engineering, speaks at this year's Engineering for Educators event.

Last Friday, more than 40 high school science and math teachers from across the Greater Toronto Area joined U of T Engineering for a series of interactive and collaborative workshops on teaching and learning.

Engineering for Educators (E4E) is an annual event in which secondary teachers and U of T Engineering faculty and staff discuss innovative ways to bring STEM into the secondary classroom. This year, E4E was expanded to a full-day event with a strong emphasis on practical strategies that are classroom-ready.

“We wanted to go beyond building relationships with teachers and provide take-aways that they could apply immediately,” said Dawn Britton, associate director of outreach at U of T Engineering. “It’s a unique opportunity for secondary and post-secondary educators to share effective strategies with each other.”

Following a welcome by Micah Stickel (ECE), chair of first year engineering at U of T, the day kicked off with a dynamic presentation from the University of Toronto Human Powered Vehicle Team, who recently set a new world record for the fastest bicycle ever created. This project gave teachers a glimpse of the amazing feats engineering students achieve as well as the learning that occurs outside of the classroom.

Over the course of the day, the participants got to tour U of T labs in the Department of Civil Engineering and the Institute for Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), and speak with undergraduate and graduate students about their research projects.

The day also included round-table discussions with U of T Engineering educators on topics that affect both secondary and post-secondary educators, such as academic support, curriculum design and leadership development.

Following the discussion was a student panel with four undergraduate engineering students from industrial, electrical, computer and chemical engineering. Participants were given the opportunity to ask the panel questions about self-directed learning, transitioning from high school to first year engineering, and peer support and community.

“The day was very valuable. It provided information that I can take back to the classroom, and be mindful when I look at my students,” said teacher and U of T Engineering alumnus Lubi Uzunovski (Chem 9T4). “I want to give them the best chance at succeeding in engineering. I enjoyed the whole day, but if I had to select my favourite part, it’s the student panel. Hearing from engineering students about the environment, what their day is like, and the types of projects they are involved in was educational.”

The day concluded with three different workshops on assessment and learning outcomes, engineering design and problem solving, and engineering-related classroom activities.

“My purpose with my students is to prepare them for university; I think it’s important to prepare them at an early age. E4E was a learning experience for me — it answered a lot of questions about what is required, how students adjust to first year and what they need in order to succeed in university,” said U of T Engineering alumna Mariana Gavriliu (ChemE 9T3), who is also a teacher. “I want to empowered students to investigate topics in science independently. Engineering plays a major role in the progress of society by bringing scientific discoveries into our daily life.”