Difference Makers

FIE 2020 Working Group Proposal:
Difference Makers: Profiles of Innovators Extending the Frontiers of Engineering Education.
Organizers: Elizabeth Pluskwik (Iron Range Engineering), Steve Frezza (Gannon University).

Paper submission for Accepted with Revisions papers had a deadline of June 1, 2020.
Final camera-ready papers of Accepted papers had a deadline of July 13, 2020.


This track aims at forming a group of key engineering program innovators for the purpose of identifying the recent successes that have pushed the frontiers of engineering education, explore the issues surrounding sustainability of educational program innovation, and facilitate recruiting and supporting new program innovators for either entrepreneurial (new program, new setting) or intrapreneurial (re-working of programs in an existing setting or culture).


The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  1. The Champion: The role of the lead in developing and launching a program innovation.
  2. The Program Entrepreneur: Shaping an educational innovation into a startup.
  3. The Handoff: Transitioning from the startup team into a continuing program.
  4. Sustainability: How success is sustained and maintained as an innovative program develops into an established program that continues to evolve and improve.


Difference Maker proposals focus on the difference makers and their experience of innovating engineering and computing programs.


The abstract submission of 3-500 words should outline one or more topic areas from a program innovation experience of value and interest to other engineering and/or computing educators. Abstracts should summarize the program’s innovation & relevance to engineering education and outline a central aspect of the program’s Conceptualization/ Design/ Implementation/ Operation that would be of value to other program innovators. The abstract should briefly describe the setting for the program innovation in the broader context of engineering and/or computing education, (not necessarily the particular institutional context), motivations for the innovative program, and a summary of the approach or results obtained.


From the abstract submissions, a set of innovators will be invited to the working group to refine the concepts for presentation and post-conference publications, including but not limited to:

  1. A white paper on program innovation suitable for inclusion in the FIE 2020 proceedings.
  2. Working-Group Presentation (WIP) related to each program’s contributions and the post-conference work.
  3. Post-Conference Work: A book, with chapters and supplemental multi-media illustrating the profiles of innovators and innovations in engineering and computing education.
  4. Optional@FIE’20: One or more panel sessions highlighting the most innovative programs and their key features, particularly for those either innovating new programs or those trying to innovate and re-image existing programs.
  5. Optional@FIE’20: Participation in participation in a special session on role-playing the different characters involved in making and sustaining program change.


The proposed structure for the working group is as follows:

  • Jan-Feb 2020: Recruit 6-8 program innovation leaders. Call for recommendations to parallel the CFP.
  • Feb-April: Off-line working group efforts; development of whitepaper materials; agreement on workshop frameworks. Leads to submission of whitepaper for peer review.
  • April-August: Off-line working group efforts; development of oral histories and multi-media material, agreement on chapter frameworks. Secure a publisher.
  • September-October: Workshop and presentation planning.
  • October: All-Day pre-conference working group on Program Innovation
  • November-January: Chapter production.


Submission: All participating institutions would submit a 3-500 word abstract to the

“Difference Makers” track; abstract submissions Feb 24; Papers due March 28. One or more authors are required from the institution.


Sample abstract prompts include:

  • What part of your program’s innovation story is most worth telling others?
  • What aspects of your program innovation(s) are you most proud of? Were most successful?
  • From your innovation experience, what are the most important lessons learned?
  • From your experiences, what are the most valuable advice would you give to others considering major program innovation?


In the abstract submission, please identify as co-authors those who would be contributors to the pre- and post- conference work. Please list the main contact as the lead author for the submission. Abstract submissions are due Feb 24; WIP papers due March 28 (more details on these later).





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(for questions about abstract submission)

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