Featured Scholar (Faculty)
Enriching the Student Experience Through Scholarship
Betsy Dell is an Assistant Professor in CAST's Mechanical Engineering Technology and the Undeclared Engineering Technology Program Chair. The main focus of the scholarly activity for Professor Dell is to provide students a richer educational experience here at RIT. Scholarly activities range from engaging students in technical research to building a supportive community for underrepresented groups in Engineering Technology to inspiring the next generation of engineers through outreach activities. Dell's scholarship work has focused on three main topics: 1) retention of women students, 2) outreach to attract underrepresented groups into the engineering and technology fields and 3) making changes to curriculum to include societal impact in Materials Science based courses (example incorporating the topic of biodegradable polymers). With the U.S. predicting a shortage of qualified engineers for our increasing technology-based economy, one way to increase the number of engineers and provide a more diverse perspective to future engineering problems is to attract underrepresented groups, such as women, into engineering programs at college. Once these qualified women have entered engineering programs, studies have shown women need social support and to see that the engineering field is one where they can make a positive impact on the world.
Dell has submitted fourteen external grant proposals totaling $1.9 million. She has completed five conference papers and has four additional papers to be presented in 2010.
In 2009, Dell received external funding to support the development of a biodegradable plastics laboratory unit from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). This work was completed with a graduate student and results will be presented at the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) National Conference in Lexington, KY in June, 2010. A pilot study to develop the successful grant proposal was supported by a CAST Scholarship Incentive Grant received the previous academic year and completed with the assistance of two Mechanical Engineering Technology students. In 2008, she presented a workshop for High School educators on how to bring the topic of plastics and the impact of these materials on our world into their classrooms at the ASEE Zone Conference in West Point, NY.
Dell is on the Steering Committee for Women in Technology (WIT). This group's mission is to retain and recruit female students in the Engineering Technology and Packaging Science disciplines. Success of this effort has been presented at several national conferences. Dell has also solicited and received funding for WIT programming.
Before pursuing a career in academia, she worked primarily in Materials Development and Product Development for the automotive industry, including the Toyota Technical Center, General Motors Research Center, and what is currently the Delphi.
She has been nominated for RIT's Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008, RIT'S Eisenhart Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2008 and 2009 and the Online Learning Exemplary Teaching Award in 2009. She was included on the Heavy Hitters list (2006, 2009 and 2010) for participation of students in on-line courses. "Online Learning staff recognizes most of the names on this list (of Heavy Hitters) as faculty we have worked with... and we believe the correlation between interaction and quality instruction is very high."