These intensive, two-week workshops
are designed to aid doctoral students who
are writing their dissertation or who have
found their writing progress stalled.
Participants spend the majority of their
time writing; however, the workshop also
includes discussions on topics of common
interest to dissertation students, such as
motivation, goal setting, time management,
and the writing habits of successful and
prolific academic writers.
Boot camp faculty provide time, space
and professional tutorial support to help
students progress on their projects.
Michael McCamley, assistant professor of
English, provides leadership for the
Dissertation Boot Camp program. "We often
hear from former boot campers who have
just defended their dissertations or
received their degrees, and they credit the
dissertation boot camps with helping them
accomplish their writing goals," said
McCamley. "Hearing good news like that is
one of my favorite parts of coordinating the
McCamley notes that while dissertation
boot camps are beginning to crop up at
other universities, UD's is, to the best of his
knowledge, the only one that provides
students access to faculty who are
specialists in writing studies. "That,
combined with great lunches, one-on-one
writing conferences and protected writing
time, make the workshops a great way for
doctoral students to make progress on their
dissertations," he added.
The University of Delaware has held
Dissertation Boot Camps each year since
2009, and 179 students have taken
advantage of the program.
Teaching fellows program prepares future faculty
T.W. Fraser Russell
Since 1994, a teaching fellows program administered by the University of Delaware's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has been offering advanced graduate students a hands-on teaching experience with the goal of helping them excel in their future role as engineering faculty at the university level.
Originally funded by a grant from the DuPont Company, in 1999 an endowment was established as the Shirley and Fraser Russell Teaching Fellowship by UD professor of chemical engineering T.W. Fraser Russell as a memorial to his wife, who was a secondary math teacher. The fellowship supports one graduate student per year at the University of Delaware and one at the University of Alberta, Russell's alma mater. Both institutions have supported two to three additional fellows each year with department funds.
"I believe this program is unique at UD, and nearly unique across higher education," observed Russell. "Many graduate applicants have told us they were attracted to UD's chemical engineering program specifically because of the teaching fellowship."
Fellows co-teach an undergraduate course with a faculty mentor for one semester, and are involved in all aspects of the course -- lecturing, preparation of new material, grading, etc. Russell personally attends many of the fellows' lectures, providing guidance and feedback.
Mary McDonald Staehle
With the goal of preparing Ph.D. students to enter academia with the benefit of a real teaching experience under their belt, the program counts many successes. "We have had 28 teaching fellows to date, at least 18 of whom now hold faculty positions and three who earned teaching awards in their first three years of teaching," said Russell.
Mary McDonald Staehle earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at UD and was a Russell Teaching Fellow in 2008. In her first two years as a new assistant professor at Rowan University in New Jersey, she taught eight different classes and was named 2012 Outstanding Teacher by the Rowan's chemical engineering class of 2012. "I am particularly proud of the award because it comes from the students themselves, for the first courses I taught them," said Staehle. "Having prior teaching experience allowed me to walk into each new course with confidence."
Another former teaching fellow, 2009 Ph.D. grad Matthew Helgeson, is now assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Along with many other teaching fellow alums, he considers the experience invaluable. "The teaching fellowship was regarded very highly during my search for a faculty position," said Helgeson. "I strongly believe that it was a necessary part of my academic training, and hope that it continues -- both at Delaware and in the broader chemical engineering community."
"One of the best things about the teaching fellows program," Russell added, "is that it has a positive effect not only on the fellows themselves but also on the other grad students who know them -- it generates interactions and fosters discussions about teaching."
At UD, T.W. Fraser Russell has served as director of the Institute of Energy Conversion, chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, associate dean and acting dean of the College of Engineering, and vice provost for research. His teaching awards include UD's Excellence in Teaching Award, and the American Society for Engineering Education's Lifetime Achievement Award in Chemical Engineering Pedagogical Scholarship.
Global travel grants
UD doctoral student Sanjay Gopal traveled to Thane, India, to conduct in-depth interviews and focus groups to assess the feasibility of that city to become one of India's "solar cities."
"These grants provide graduate students the opportunity to conduct research and expand their
scholarship beyond the UD campus," said Charlie Riordan, vice provost for graduate and professional
education. "The new knowledge they develop will impact the cultures and communities in which
they interact and the experience will position them to make continued contributions to their fields
as they grow as scholars." For the 2011-2012 academic year, $40,000 in grants was awarded.