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Navy grant to IUPUI will fund training program for diverse STEM peer leadership

The School of Engineering and Technology program will give special attention to female and underrepresented students

For Immediate Release Sep 7, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS – The Office of Naval Research has announced new grants awarded in the Department of the Navy Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Education and Workforce Program.

Lauren Christopher sitting by computer monitor, keyboard and a larger monitor instructing students.
Lauren Christopher, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, is a member of the IUPUI team working on the Navy Engineering Innovation and Leadership Training program.Photo by Brooke Littell

IUPUI is among 12 universities and nonprofit organizations nationally receiving grants in the current year, with a three-year $750,000 award received by the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology for its proposal: Navy Engineering Innovation and Leadership Training Program for Diverse STEM Peer Leadership.

Led by professor Razi Nalim, executive associate dean for research and global initiatives, the NEIL program is a partnership with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, in which IUPUI will develop U.S. students in engineering and computing majors to be adept at innovation in Navy research and development priority areas. The students will conduct Navy-priority research in IUPUI laboratories and will also assist in teaching challenging engineering and computing subjects using the Peer-Led Team Learning approach. With special attention to female and underrepresented students, IUPUI will provide leadership coaching to these high-achieving undergraduates.

“The NEIL program will train students to be effective peer leaders who not only take charge of their own learning through research experiences, but also share their learning with others and help each other to complete their degrees successfully and on time,” Nalim said. “They will become technology innovators and valuable potential employees in a variety of leadership roles for the Navy, which already employs a significant number of IUPUI engineering graduates. The skills that NEIL scholars develop will be critical for the Navy to rapidly translate disruptive technologies from the laboratory to the fleet.”

Along with Nalim, who is a professor of mechanical and energy engineering, the IUPUI team is composed of Lauren Christopher, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Christine Krull, coordinator of academic programs and instructional design in organizational leadership; Sharon Miller, clinical associate professor of biomedical engineering; Eric Adams, senior lecturer of mechanical and energy engineering; and Marsha Baker, assistant dean for recruitment, retention and student services. Danka Maric will serve as an evaluator from IUPUI’s STEM Education Innovation & Research Institute.

Faculty members will train students and conduct and publish research on their development of skills in leadership, innovation and discovery.

“It is very satisfying to see such an award that will contribute directly to undergraduate student success, including a focus on underrepresented students, while also addressing research and development in areas of strategic need for the Navy,” said David Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI.

Bryan Woosley, the university liaison at NSWC Crane, said this creates future opportunities for both the university and the Navy.

“The engagement opportunity with IUPUI through the ONR-funded Navy Engineering Innovation and Leadership Training Program for Diverse STEM Peer Leadership creates a workforce development pipeline between IUPUI and NSWC Crane in technical areas that are critical to ensuring a future Naval force equipped to solve the challenging technical problems that ‘tomorrow’s Navy’ will face,” Woosley said. “The IUPUI administration and professors that created this program understand the importance of national security and the university’s role in training our future civilian scientists and engineers for service at NSWC Crane and other Navy laboratories. This program will develop a well-trained workforce capable of contributing to the Navy science and technology efforts that will continue to provide technologically superior equipment to the warfighter for generations to come.”

About IUPUI and Purdue School of Engineering and Technology

IUPUI is a distinctive combination of the best of Indiana’s two major universities: Indiana University and Purdue University. IUPUI is an urban campus with the dynamic spirit that characterizes metropolitan Indianapolis.

The Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI is regarded as one of America’s premier urban schools of engineering and technology. It offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs that prepare students for careers in a global economy, and is recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for its excellence in teaching and learning, research and creative activities, and community engagement.

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi-spectral, full-life-cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s warfighter.

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