How can engineers effectively communicate their work to the people who need it most? The Center partnered with the University of Florida Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering to train faculty in public interest communications frameworks that can help them more effectively communicate with non-expert audiences – policymakers, funders, students, media and potential collaborators. Working with the dean of the college, we developed professional development courses for 35 new faculty members as part of their onboarding process. After assessing the effectiveness of the courses, the opportunity to participate in communications trainings became available to all engineering faculty.
What We Did:
Before designing the training, the Center team undertook research to understand ways leaders and faculty of the college communicated about their work to both internal and external audiences. Team members conducted one-on-one interviews with faculty, college leadership and communications staff, both within the college and at peer institutions.
Based on research findings, the Center team created a series of workshops focused on:
- Foundations of Effective Communications for Engineers
- The Science of Story Building for Compelling Engineering Presentations
- Writing and Delivering Effective Engineering Talks
- Establishing Influence with Research Funders and Funding Agencies
- Networking and Navigating an Academic Conference
The first workshop series began in Fall 2018 for new faculty and was conducted in four, full-day sessions. The second series began in Spring 2019 with a different structure: the faculty met once a month for 1.5 hour lunch-and-learns throughout the semester. Pre- and post-training surveys were conducted to assess the success of each workshop. Using the online learning management system Canvas, we created a course shell that allowed participants to access all the workshop presentations, worksheets and readings. We also created online activities to support the learning in between the workshop sessions.
What One Participant Said About the Center’s Training Program:
“The program gave me a new perspective on how to best showcase my work and it also gave me tools to apply for making my presentations more impactful. I highly recommend this program.” – Lily Elefteriadou, Director, UF Transportation Institute.
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