Stephanie Farrell M.Eng. ’92: Championing Diversity in Engineering Education
Creating a diverse pool of engineers will be essential to creating solutions for global challenges such as climate change and population growth. So says Stephanie Farrell M.Eng. ’92, a Stevens graduate who has become a leading engineering educator and engineering education researcher.
“We need to identify, recruit and retain untapped talent,” explains Farrell, who served as president of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for 2018-2019. “If we keep looking in the same places, and we keep teaching the same things in the same ways, we can’t expect to see change.”
A professor at New Jersey's Rowan University — where she is founding chair of the Department of Experiential Engineering Education — Farrell has long been engaged in interdisciplinary and international research projects focused on diversity in engineering education. Her projects range from examining cross-cultural factors affecting spatial visualization skills to studying the experiences of faculty who move from teacher-centered to learner-centered approaches. Another of Farrell's projects, funded by the National Science Foundation and aimed at promoting greater participation in engineering at Rowan by groups such as LBGTQ+ students, students with disabilities, low-income students and first-generation college students, has shown encouraging results.
A former Fulbright Scholar, Farrell emphasizes the need to inspire children about engineering as early as middle school (she once operated a summer engineering project for middle school girls at Stevens).
“We really need to get them excited about engineering as a field that solves big problems,” she says. "They can be a part of that."