Department of Engineering & Society
RESEARCH & INNOVATION
As part of the strategic planning process completed in 2011, the Engineering School undertook a critical evaluation of its current research strengths.
Four societal challenges capture much of the research strength within SEAS in 2011:
- Creating a sustainable future — There is a need to better manage our natural resources while providing sufficient energy for improved life.
- Engineering improved health — Technology and quantitative understanding of living systems can be used to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of disease and to improve the human condition.
- Advancing the cyber and physical infrastructure — Although the current cyber and physical infrastructure allows society to function in ways that would have been unknown in the not-too-distant past, there are many challenges to reinvigorating and expanding the reach of this field.
- Providing personal and societal security — The need for advances in protecting personal privacy and societal security has become increasingly important as more personal and societal functions rely on technology.
AREAS OF EXCELLENCE
Collaborating across disciplinary boundaries
Co-evolving solutions with users
Challenges to collaboration
Collaboration and institutional change
What skills or expertise are essential for catalyzing collaborations?
How do institutional structures support/inhibit collaborative activities?
What practical steps can researchers take to promote a collaborative environment?
Faculty include Gianluca Guadagni and Eduardo Socolovsky.
- Researchers are creating representations of objects and phenomena at very large and very small scales, using data from sensors, instruments and imaging techniques that press against the boundaries of human vision and human thought.
- Visualization and representation of data, processes and structures have become critically important research tools for engineering.
- Representations allow us to think through, think with and communicate information. They let us peer into previously-inaccessible worlds or crystalize metaphors for concepts or processes.
- Scientific narratives make sense of this scaled-up, heterogeneous, hybrid, representational ecology, and STS frameworks allow us to situate these narratives in history and in culture.
Key Faculty: Rebecca Perry, Bernie Carlson, Mike Gorman, Kay Neeley, Caitlin Wylie
- What social problems can a research cluster address?
- How will the results of a cluster be received by users, corporate clients, and policymakers?
- How will responses vary by social groups and by their cultural values?
- How do social factors constrain engineering alternatives, and what can you do about these constraints?
These are questions to keep in mind from the first stages of research. STS faculty can assess these factors and identify ways to shape design decisions and implementation strategies accordingly.
Rosalyn Berne – Biomedicine, Nanotechnology
Bernie Carlson – Innovation
Sean Ferguson – Sustainability, Bioplastics
Rider Foley – Sustainability, Smart Cities
Michael Gorman – Nanotechnology, Engineering Education, Expertise
Deborah Johnson – Information Technology
Jongmin Lee – Environment, Health, Global Context
Lisa Messeri – Earth and Planetary Systems, Virtual Reality, Citizen Science
Kay Neeley – Problem Framing in Sociotechnical Systems
Peter Norton – Cities and Transportation
Tolu Odumosu – Research Cultures
Caitlin Wylie – Research Cultures, Visualization, Citizen Science
E&S Faculty think about global issues in several ways:
- How can we recruit world-class students and ensure that they have outstanding English-language skills?
- How can we provide students with international study opportunities that complement their research?
- How do we conceptualize the processes by which people, ideas, and devices move across borders?
- How do notions of sustainability vary across cultures?
Jong Min Lee
- Software engineering: Should software that controls automobile emissions be able to be turned off when a vehicle is being tested?
- Autonomous technologies: Research on algorithms that decide whose life should be have priority in an autonomous car collision;
- Data collection techniques: Research on privacy protection for personal data;
Biomedical devices: Research on fairness in access to medical devices.
Key Faculty: Deborah Johnson, Rosalyn Berne, Michael Gorman
Method: Use systematic and iterative research on social context to provide critically important feedback to redesign materials and prototypes.
Faculty Experts: Rider W. Foley, Jim Cheng, David Slutzky, and Sean Ferguson
The Tech Entrepreneurship Program in E&S helps research clusters articulate this pathway by:
- Offering courses and experiential opportunities in entrepreneurship for undergrads, graduate students and faculty;
- Providing entrepreneurs and business leaders as mentors via our contacts with the NSF and NIH I-Corps programs;
- Assisting in customer discovery and preparing business plans;
- Developing ties to industries as key partners and research opportunities.
Faculty involved: Elizabeth Pyle, Doug Muir, Jim Cheng, Bernie Carlson
As part of our quest to redesign the calculus sequence to better meet the needs of our students, five members of the Applied Mathematics group recently won Nucleus grants from the Center for Teaching Excellence. Along with other teachers from throughout UVA, the group completed a class in course design and we are currently implementing active-learning methods in our courses. We also participate in a learning community with other teachers from throughout UVA so that we might learn from each other’s experiences.
We plan to implement these active-learning methods in the new calculus courses that we intend to propose. The essence of our proposal is to provide three different two-semester sequences of engineering mathematics courses to allow every student to achieve and demonstrate mastery of mathematics concepts and skills through multivariable calculus by the end of the first year. Each sequence will be targeted to a specific group of first-year students, from those with the most limited calculus background to those who have an excellent calculus background.
These engineering math courses will be accompanied by a newly created mathematics lab course to allow students to achieve and demonstrate mastery of pre-calculus concepts and skills on a self-paced schedule.
The goal of the Applied Mathematics group is to provide excellent engineering math instruction that meets the needs of all of our students and allows them to thrive in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia.
By Deborah G. Johnson, Anne Shirley Carter Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics, Science, Technology and Society Program, 1/19/2016
Although the ethical issues arising around CPSs are somewhat different from system to system, there should be no doubt that ethical issues are implicit in their design. There will issues of privacy whenever CPSs use sensors that gather information about individual human behavior – be it locational information or bodily functions. Even when sensors collect information about the environment, there will be issues about who owns the data and how it can be used. Ethical decisions will be made implicitly in the design of CPSs. The design of transportation systems will involve decisions about who gets to go where with what level of convenience. Security systems will involve trade-offs between security and privacy; self-driving automobiles may make decisions about who will live and who will die in an accident; smart buildings may pit improved energy efficiency against individual autonomy; and so on.
CPS researchers and students who are preparing to work on CPSs should heed the insights from recent research on ‘responsible innovation’, ‘value-sensitive design’, and ‘anticipatory ethics’. This research argues for considering the ethical issues in the early stages of technological development rather than later on when a technology has already been designed and change is much harder to make.
A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award, 2016
W. Bernard Carlson.
2015 Sally Hacker Prize for Best Popular Book
Society for the History of Technology
The Sally Hacker Prize was established in 1999 to honor exceptional scholarship that reaches beyond the academy toward a broad audience.
2015 IEEE Middleton Electrical Engineering History Award
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
The IEEE William and Joyce Middleton Electrical Engineering History Award is awarded to the author of a book in the history of an IEEE-related technology that both exemplifies exceptional scholarship and reaches beyond academic communities toward a broad public audience.
Rider W. Foley
President’s Award in Sustainability from ASU.
Joseph Weizenbaum Award for life-long contributions to information and computer ethics, International Society for Ethics and Information Technology,
Faculty of the Year Award, Korean-American Scientists and Engineers Association, Central Virginia chapter.