National Academy of Engineering selects Engineering Education Fellows
November 12, 2004
Gary Downey, of Blacksburg, professor of science and technology in society in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been named a Boeing Company Engineering Education Senior Fellow by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
Downey will serve for 12 months beginning Nov. 1 and produce analyses relevant to one of four research thrusts of the NAE's Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE). These analyses will be issued in white papers and presented orally at the CASEE annual meeting in October 2005.
Downey, an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Engineering Education in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, will engage in a joint project with Juan Lucena, associate professor of liberal arts and international studies at the Colorado School of Mines. They will document international diversity in the roles of engineers and views of engineering as well as develop assessments of student learning outcomes in courses that seek to enhance their ability to practice in an international context. Their efforts will be documented in a book and journal articles.
CASEE is part of a larger initiative on engineering education. In 1999 the Committee on Engineering Education was established as a standing program to study the issues surrounding engineering education through a series of projects that explore different, timely questions. In 2000 NAE revised its criteria for membership to more fully recognize contributions to engineering education. In 2002 NAE launched CASEE with a mandate to foster excellence in engineering education.
Downey is the author or co-author of three books, 15 refereed journal articles and eight book chapters, and has been principal investigator on externally-funded research projects totaling $650,000. He is the 2004 recipient of William E. Wine Award for career teaching excellence at Virginia Tech and a member of the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence. He was elected a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association in 1993.
Downey teaches the award-winning course Engineering Cultures, and is credited for helping students to develop concrete strategies for understanding cultural differences and engaging in shared problem solving amidst differences. One student recently wrote, "Engineering Cultures changed my life. I walked into the first class wondering how, as an engineer, I could fulfill my dreams of serving society in a meaningful way. I walked out of the last knowing exactly what I needed to do to be happy, satisfied, and successful as an engineer."
Downey received a bachelor's degree from Lehigh University, and a master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He is a member of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, American Anthropological Association, Society for Cultural Anthropology, and American Society of Engineering Education, as well as the honorary fraternities Phi Beta Kappa in the liberal arts, Tau Beta Pi in engineering, Sigma Xi in the sciences, and Pi Tau Sigma in mechanical engineering. Three times he has received the Certificate of Teaching Excellence, and he has received the XCaliber Award for instructional technology and the Diggs Teaching Scholar Award. He is also adjunct professor in Women's Studies and in Sociology.
The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences embraces the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The college nurtures intellect and spirit, enlightens decision-making, inspires positive change, and improves the quality of life for people of all ages. It is home to the departments of apparel, housing and resource management, communication, educational leadership and policy studies, English, foreign languages and literatures, history; human development, interdisciplinary studies, music, philosophy, political science, ROTC, science and technology in society, sociology, teaching and learning, and theatre arts.