Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

IUPUI researchers to address complex educational challenges in STEM curricula

August 10, 2017

Jie Chen

Jie Chen

INDIANAPOLIS -- Researchers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will address complex educational challenges in STEM curricula with financial support from a campus institute.

IUPUI's STEM Education Innovation and Research Institute, or SEIRI, recently awarded seven projects a total of $210,000 in the inaugural round of the SEIRI Seed Grant program.

Jie Chen, professor and chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and director of the DOE Industrial Assessment Center in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, is the principal investigator for a project titled "Engineering-Science Intellectual Property Project." The goal is to provide IUPUI engineering students with a meaningful understanding about intellectual property, or IP.

Chen said the lack of IP knowledge among engineering students includes misunderstanding of what constitutes subject matter that can be protected, how to transform intellectual property that cannot be protected into something that can be and what results in the infringement of others' intellectual property.

"The ESIP-Project pilot program includes three elective courses that together initially create an IP concentration in an engineering B.S. curriculum at IUPUI. The long-term goal is creating an IP concentration in STEM curricula, with each course requiring a deep dive into IP concepts in STEM-related subject matter," said Hamid Piroozi, co-principal investigator and instructor of the IP courses. "In each of these courses, students will prepare designs in accordance with a new pedagogical approach of teaching STEM-related concepts that uses IP as a starting point, which can generate a transformational shift in STEM education and provide career-long benefits."

Piroozi said intellectual property generated by IUPUI students will be owned by the students. The project will be a student-based activity, with potential collaboration with the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Entrepreneurship Clinic.

"At the culmination of this pilot program, IUPUI students will be well-poised to take -- and pass -- the patent bar examination," Chen said. "Graduates will have new career options, including becoming patent engineers and patent agents, in addition to the traditional technical career choices, as well as a solid foundation for continuing to law school and other graduate programs."

Other principal investigators and projects from the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI that were awarded 2017 SEIRI Seed Grants are:

  • Eric Adams, Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology, "Increasing the Use and Effectiveness of Peer-Led Team Learning Workshops in Engineering."
  • Xiao Luo, Department of Computer Information Technology, School of Engineering and Technology, "Integrated Learning for Undergraduate Students in Computer Information Technology through Cross-Curricular Instruction Units and Projects: 'Cross-Curricular I-UP.'"

Abstracts for all SSG projects awarded in 2017 can be found online.

Pratibha Varma-Nelson, professor of chemistry and SEIRI founding executive director, said the grant program gives faculty the opportunity to address key issues within their curriculum.

"The grants provide faculty within STEM departments seed funding for education, innovation and research," she said. "They also will enable faculty to be more competitive to receive external funding, such as from the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health."

Varma-Nelson said IUPUI researchers across all STEM disciplines submitted high-quality projects for the SEIRI Seed Grant program.

"My colleagues and I look forward to working with the principal investigators and other project personnel on each of the projects as they develop their ideas," she said.

The next grant solicitation will be in May 2018. As information about the upcoming solicitation becomes available, it will be posted on the SEIRI website. Questions should be sent to Varma-Nelson at .

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