STEP Reflection


In the past two weeks, I have made substantial progress on my STEP project.  First, I have successfully interviewed three engineering undergraduate students and gained their insights into how students perceive their intelligence and how they view themselves on the socioeconomic ladder.  More importantly, even with only three interviews finished I am starting to see patterns in how students from different socioeconomic classes view themselves.  To continue, I need to transcribe all the interviews exactly, which for a single hour-long interview can take anywhere from six to nine hours, depending on how quickly the subject speaks.  After these transcriptions are complete, I will use values coding to pull out important attitudes, values, and beliefs in the student and compare them to the other subjects.  In addition to my own project, I have continued to work on Dr. Dringenberg’s larger project involving how engineering undergrads perceive their intelligence.  I have coded multiple interviews done by colleagues at Kansas State University, and will continue to help in any way I can.

As I’ve conducted my project, I can see exactly which parts of the research process I like, and which ones I don’t.  Overall, I can start to see that going down a research path is likely what I will do after I end my undergraduate career.  I can easily see myself creating a thesis for my masters, and taking my skills to research for the private sector.




STEP Project Reflection

Hello, my name is Carter and for my STEP project, I am doing research for the Department of Engineering Education focusing on how the socioeconomic status of students affects how the perceive their own intelligence.  I apologize for starting this so late, but I decided to wait to post my first response until I had approval from OSU’s IRB to conduct my research.  When I first began my project, I was simply assisting Dr. Emily Dringenberg in her research regarding undergraduate engineering student’s beliefs about intelligence in order to improve how undergraduate engineering courses are taught here at Ohio State.  To begin, I was first required to complete training in order to work with human subjects both directly and indirectly.  This occupied almost the entirety of my first week of work, along with reading how to qualitatively code data.  During my second week, my work on my own pilot study began.  I had read an article in The Atlantic recently called “The Birth of the New American Aristocracy,” which revolves around the topic of income inequality.  After reading, I was inspired to include its topics in my pilot study, resulting in my decision to focus on how socioeconomic status affects students’ beliefs about intelligence.  My pilot is also beneficial to Dr. Dringenberg as it is an expansion of the study she currently has underway, and data I collect from my pilot can and will be used in her ongoing study about engineering students beliefs.

To prepare for my IRB submission, I was required to submit multiple documents concerning the protocols for my study, including protocols for recruitment, interviews, data management, and analysis.  My submission was initially rejected on account of the protocol for incentivizing prospective students (part of the recruitment protocol) which resulted in my project being delayed.  After edits to my protocol and a re-submission of my pilot study proposal, the IRB approved my study and has allowed me to start recruiting participants.  As of now, I have multiple prospective students willing to partake in the experience, and my selection of interview subjects will be finalized by the end of the week.

So far, my experience in engineering education has opened a lot of doors for me.  Since this project allows me to see the entire cycle of the research project – from inception to publication – I have a clear view on whether the general experience of researching is a path I want to go down.  So far, my answer is yes.  I enjoy the process and never-ending desire to learn, and I could easily see myself going into a PhD program after my undergraduate experience.  Aside from research, I find the field of education to be very interesting, pushing me in the direction of pursuing a career in academia.  Although while I am interested in education, I don’t think I would like a career solely researching engineering education, but I would love to teach and use the skills I’ve learned so far to research areas in materials science.

STEP Project Reflection

A Study of Green Infrastructure in Portland, Oregon

Jaime Schmotzer

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

My STEP project involved traveling to Portland, Oregon with a classmate, Taylor Brill. We studied green infrastructure and stormwater management techniques throughout the city and met with local professionals to learn more about the projects and systems in place.

  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

I am a City and Regional Planning student at OSU and am really interested in the ways cities function, including the incorporation of green infrastructure and stormwater management. Portland, Oregon is known for being advanced in stormwater management techniques and green infrastructure systems. I wanted to see these projects in person and also consider how the concepts might apply to Columbus, Ohio. During our trip, we met with a Portland city planner who explained some of the history of the city and how green infrastructure came to be so prevalent. The most interesting part of the interview was that Portland was in a similar position as Columbus around 30 years ago. This helped me to realize that while Columbus and other parts of the world currently may be lacking in green infrastructure, there is hope that in the future, cities can be as successful as Portland, Oregon.

  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

This trip was really beneficial in that I could see how green infrastructure implementations functioned. It is one thing to read about the ways these systems work and another to actually see them. We were given a tour of some green infrastructure projects around Portland State University by a landscape architect from the Bureau of Environmental Services in Portland. This tour was monumental in helping me to further understand why Portland is so successful in stormwater management. The experience also taught me that there are numerous ways to incorporate green infrastructure, as long as a city is innovative and inspired. Portland is more focused on environmental preservation than other cities and it shows.

The city planner we met with explained that green infrastructure is not always something that is man-made, for instance trees are a common example. One major difference between Columbus and Portland is that Portland has significantly more plants. The city is covered in greenery, even in the downtown areas. A tour guide explained that the city did not plant all of the trees, but instead let existing trees be. The planner told us that one of the easiest forms of green infrastructure to implement is trees and plants. She also explained that many people do not consider trees to be infrastructure and do not treat them as such, but that trees really are a valuable resource. One way of significantly improving the Columbus green infrastructure system would be to plant more trees and to let existing trees grow.

Meeting with the city planner and landscape architect certainly helped to give a different perspective on Portland. I think the planner was able to provide context towards the implementation of their stormwater systems as well as successes and challenges that the city has faced. The landscape architect allowed us to see many of the projects firsthand, such as a private green roof and multiple projects around the Portland State University Campus. He was able to explain the specific designs of each system, along with the pros and cons. Interaction with both of these local professionals allowed me to gain a better understanding of the difficulties and benefits that lie with implementing green infrastructure and stormwater systems.

  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

This trip was directly applicable to my future career as a city planner in that I want to improve the ways cities function, with a focus on environmental sustainability. Traveling to Portland helped me to learn firsthand about my interests in green infrastructure and stormwater management.  Now I have a better concept of what the implementation process of these systems entails. This experience in Portland has been extremely valuable and has increased my knowledge, which will allow me to more successful in my future career.

Green infrastructure at Portland State University

A stormwater collection plaza at Portland State University