Category Archives: Students/Postdocs

AISES November Opportunities Newsletter


AISES Opportunities:

SPRK-ing Interest in Computer Science- A New AISES Pre-College Program
AISES is excited to announce a new K-12 program combining robotics and computer programming to increase awareness and interest in STEM and Computer Science (STEM+C) among Native American students. The program will engage students in hands-on STEM+C activities powered by Sphero technology, created by AISES and tailored to Native students.

BPA Internship Application Now Available!
Deadline: December 15, 2017
One to two positions will be available in BPA’s Transmission Services. The internship will be located in Vancouver, WA (just outside of Portland, OR). The ideal student will have a background in electrical, civil or mechanical engineering.

The National American Indian Virtual Science and Engineering Fair (NAIVSEF)
Students from 5th-12th grade can participate in the NAIVSEF. There are two categories for entrants, Senior Division (grades 9-12) and Junior Division (grades 5-8). NAIVSEF projects may be submitted by individual students or teams of up to three students.  AISES awards cash prizes to the winners of each division. Complete details and timeline at:

AISES Energy Challenge
The AISES Energy Challenge (EC) is an energy-specific science fair designed to engage and encourage high school and middle school students to participate in STEM education through a creative, hands-on, problem solving and engineering process in an environment similar to a science fair. Complete Details and timeline at:

AISES 2016 Annual Report is now available
Download the PDF version here

Visit the AISES Job Board
The AISES Job Board is the premier resource to connect career opportunities with highly qualified Native STEM talent.

Winds of Change 2017 National Conference Wrap-Up
Relive the fun and see some great photos! The Winds of Change 2017 National Conference Wrap-Up is available now at The photos and stories in this exclusive digital edition bring back wonderful memories of those busy, full days in Denver, and we can all relive that excitement in these pages.

Get your limited edition AISES 40th Anniversary merchandise, while supplies last!
– AISES 40th Anniversary Star Quilt
– AISES 40th Anniversary Drum
– AISES 40th Anniversary Mug

Join AISES! Be a part of #PledgeNativesInSTEM
AISES seeks to identify partners who are making a difference in student achievement nationwide to join us in improving educational outcomes for North American Indigenous students.  To catalyze these efforts, AISES is organizing a campaign to support Natives in STEM. #PledgeNativesInSTEM

2018 AISES National Conference
Save the date for the 2018 Annual AISES National Conference October 4-6, 2018 in Oklahoma City, OK.

Ways to Motivate Teaching Assistants

They want Responsibility and Contact with Both Students and Peers

By Rachel L. Kajfez and Holly M. Matusovich

Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) play critical roles in higher education. While they are teachers, they also are students. Therefore, institutions have an obligation to design positions and programs that support their professional development. Past studies have analyzed GTA developmental programs from the perspective of content and pedagogy training, but little research has examined the experience of GTAs in these programs. To develop teaching environments and training programs that support GTA development, we must better understand the factors that motivate GTAs.

According to self-determination theory, intrinsic motivation depends on supporting three psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. The purpose of our study was to examine graduate students’ motivation to teach in first-year engineering programs with regard to these three needs. We interviewed 12 GTAs from five universities in one phase of a mixed-methods study. Through a combination of a priori and open coding, we identified five factors that affect GTA competence, autonomy, and relatedness. They can be summed up as training, previous experience, appointment structure, students, and teaching colleagues.

All GTAs in our study received training that supported their competence. The most common forms included weekly and university-wide training sessions. These sessions provided a venue for GTAs to learn about program and university policies, course content, and general pedagogical practices. Based on our findings and previous literature, we recommend that all GTA positions include some form of content and pedagogy training.

Across all sites, GTAs reported that prior experiences contributed to their competence. The most common influential experiences were as a teacher or student. Accordingly, we suggest that GTA programs acknowledge and build on GTAs’ previous experiences, tailoring training when feasible. For example, if GTAs will be teaching a lab course and have taught a similar class at a different institution, have them reflect on their previous work, identifying qualities of their teaching they would like to preserve and opportunities for enhancement the new position affords them.

GTAs noted that appointment structures affected their autonomy, including the jobs they were assigned. Duties that supported autonomy included lecturing, grading, one-on-one discussions with students, developing curriculum, holding of?ce hours or review sessions, and overseeing undergraduate teaching assistants. When GTAs felt responsible for or had control over some decisions during each of these types of activities, their autonomy and teaching motivation improved. We recommend that institutions enable GTAs to engage in at least some of these activities.

GTAs reported that their relationships with students affected their teaching experiences. Helping and seeing their students succeed raised their view of—and enthusiasm for—teaching in general. We encourage all GTA positions to include such direct interaction with students as being the instructor of record or taking responsibility for office-hour sessions.

GTAs also discussed relationships with fellow GTAs and with faculty. In most instances, participants viewed their relationships with peers more positively than their relationships with faculty. They described the community they built with their peers and how they were able to learn directly from each other. We recommend that activities be integrated into GTA programs to foster positive working and learning relationships among GTAs.

In their relationships with faculty, our participants had both positive and negative experiences. Often faculty served as gatekeepers to experiences such as delivering a lecture to a class. We suggest faculty supervisors take an individualized approach to supporting competence and autonomy with each graduate student, carefully considering previous experience and appointment structure. We believe this individualized approach could improve relationships between GTAs and faculty.

When developing teaching environments and training programs for GTAs, we recommend that faculty and administrators consider the five factors that we identified and their effects on GTAs as teachers and students. Addressing these factors will strengthen GTAs’ motivation in teaching and, with time, improve the quality of teaching in engineering.


Rachel L. Kajfez is an assistant professor of engineering education at Ohio State University. Holly M. Matusovich is an associate professor of engineering education at Virginia Tech. This article is excerpted from “Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness as Motivators of Graduate Teaching Assistants” in the April 2017 Journal of Engineering Education.

National Geographic and Zoological Society of London Launch New Nat Geo Photo Ark EDGE Fellowships

Although our planet’s wildlife and wild places are disappearing at an alarming rate, most threatened species still receive little or no conservation funding. To help save wildlife and sound the alarm for lesser-known species at risk, the National Geographic Society and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have launched a new fellowship collaboration.

In partnership with ZSL’s EDGE of Existence Program, which focuses on the planet’s most unique and endangered species, the new fellowships will support on-the-ground conservation efforts to help save creatures featured in the National Geographic Photo Ark. The Photo Ark is a flagship program of the National Geographic Society founded by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. It aims to document every species in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries, inspire action through education, and help save wildlife by supporting on-the-ground conservation efforts.

Want to become a National Geographic Explorer? Learn how you can apply for a grant from the National Geographic Society here. You can support our efforts to enable more cutting-edge scientists, conservationists and educators like these to get out into the field here.

Find out more about Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species, and ZSL’s EDGE of Existence Programme, at

NSF Workshop for Postdocs & Senior Graduate Students in Engineering

I am a co-PI on a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project to provide Professional Preparation of Underrepresented Minority PhD’s and Post-Docs for a Career in Engineering Academia. The first group of fellows participated in the summer workshop in 2017 at The University of Akron. We are currently recruiting for a second group of fellows to participation in 2018, with the summer workshop at The University of Houston. I am hoping that you may know some students or postdocs at your institutions who are interested in participating, and that you would forward them the information and encourage them to apply.

The attached flier contains more information about the benefits for participating, the activities, and logistics.  If interested, please fill out an interest survey( by January 1 2018.  Additional details will follow.

Key information:

Interest survey due: January 1, 2018

Tentative dates of summer workshop: June 4-June 14, meals and on-campus housing provided

Stipends: $937 for PhD students,  ½ awarded after June 14, and ½ at the end of spring.

Eligibility: Participants must be PhD student or post-doc in engineering. NSF defines underrepresented groups in engineering as women, ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.




Rebecca Kuntz Willits, Ph.D.
Margaret F. Donovan Endowed Chair for Women in Engineering
Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in Biomedical Engineering
Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
The University of Akron
Akron, OH -0302

Nominations Open for 2018 MAGS Excellence in Teaching Awards

Nominations are now open for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Excellence in Teaching Awards. Michigan Tech may nominate one student at the MS and PhD level. Nominations are due to the Graduate School no later than 4 p.m. Jan 10.

Eligible students:

  • will have been enrolled at Michigan Tech during the 2017 calendar year and have a teaching appointment
  • will have earned the Michigan Tech Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award
  • will have an excellent teaching portfolio and student evaluations

Graduate program assistants and directors have been provided a list of eligible students.

See the application page for complete details on what is required for a nomination.

Advanced mass spectrometry course in Spring

Students & Faculty
I’m pleased to announce that we’ve just opened up an undergraduate level (CH4800; CRN 14633) advanced mass spectrometry course to be taught in parallel to the current graduate level (CH5240; CRN 14481).  Please note that this course is available only during the Spring semester of even years (e.g., Spring 2018, Spring 2020, etc.).
For graduate students, we also have a laboratory course (CH5241; CRN 14482) that provides hands-on experience.  The laboratory course is required for future “trusted users” of the MRI funded Orbitrap Elite MS in the Chemical Advanced Resolution Methods (ChARM) core facility.  Past students participated in a class research project to develop methods for dissolved organic phosphorus in wastewater effluent.  This year’s group will focus on the detailed molecular chemistry of Lake Effect snow.
Course Description:
The focus of this course is advanced mass spectrometry (MS) methods.  We will study a wide variety of mass analyzers including quadrupole, time of flight, ion trap, ion cyclotron resonance, and orbitrap.  Since MS analysis can only be performed on ionized molecules, a variety of analyte introduction techniques will also be studied.  Molecular identification methods including the use of tandem mass spectrometric analysis (aka MS/MS) and exact mass analysis will also be covered.  Students will then apply the fundamentals of these topics to identify unknown natural compounds from mass spectra and develop analytical strategies. 
Course Learning Objectives:
• Describe the theory of ionization and ion fragmentation.
• Compare and contrast the various ionization methods with respect to analyte structure and analytical application.
• Describe the strengths and weaknesses of several mass analyzers in terms of the elements of the instrument design and intended applications.
• Evaluate mass spectrometry data to elucidate molecular structures and/or qualitative empirical formulas and other metrics.
• Design and evaluate analytical methods, including tandem mass spectrometry methods, for various applications.
• Assimilate a literature review presentation of an advanced mass spectrometry method from the peer-reviewed literature.
Lynn R. Mazzoleni, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Chemistry and

Atmospheric Science Program
Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931
(+1) 906-487-1853

Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam

Dear Seniors,

As you look for employment, keep in mind that being on track to becoming a “Licensed Professional Engineer” will be a highly visible extra.  Licensing may be required for some jobs.  It is required in all states before you can enter private practice in engineering.

Graduating with an ABET-approved engineering degree and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam are your first steps to becoming a Licensed Professional Engineer.  The FE Exam covers broad engineering fundamentals, and NOW is when you will be best prepared to pass it.


General information about the FE Exam, the testing location and time, and registration instructions can be found here:
The $175 registration price (reduced from $225) will be available through NCEES starting January 1, 2018, so wait until after that date to register. 
Dr. Tony Rogers

Nominations open for 2018 MAGS Excellence in Teaching Awards

Nominations are now open for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Excellence in Teaching Awards.  Michigan Tech may nominate one student at the MS and PhD level. Each graduate program may nominate one student at the MS and PhD level. Nominations are due to the Graduate School no later than 4pm, January 10, 2018.

Eligible students

  • will have been enrolled at Michigan Tech during the 2017 calendar year and have a teaching appointment
  • will have earned the Michigan Tech Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award
  • will have an excellent teaching portfolio and student evaluations

See the application page for complete details on what is required for a nomination.

Michigan Tech Graduate School

906-487-2327 (voice)

906-487-2284 (fax)

Resources for current students:


2018 Los Alamos Dynamics Summer School: Apply by Jan 7

Dear Alumni, Faculty and Staff,

Next summer, Los Alamos National Laboratory will be hosting the nineteenth edition of the Los Alamos Dynamics Summer School (LADSS). I have attached a flyer in PDF format that provides information about the summer school, links to more information on the web, and provides instructions for applying to the summer school.

Now that our curriculum and student projects are more in line with the National Science Foundation’s research thrust in cyber-physical systems, we are seeking participation by electrical engineers and computer scientists in addition to our traditional participation by aerospace, mechanical, and civil engineers. Therefore, please pass this solicitation on to prospective students and encourage the good ones to apply.  Applications will be accepted until January 7, 2018.

The primary goal of the LADSS is to get U.S. citizens to attend graduate school. Therefore, the students you solicit need to be U.S. citizens, and they should be of sufficient academic standing to be credible candidates for graduate school. As a reference point, the 200+ students that have taken part in the first eighteen LADSS schools had undergraduate GPA’s ranging from 3.0 – 4.0, with a mean undergraduate GPA of approximately 3.8.

Past experience shows that the students who actually apply to the Summer School are ones that faculty members or former students have talked to individually regarding this program, so please take the time to talk with some of your top students about this opportunity.

Also, please pass this solicitation on to other faculty that may have students who are interested in this educational/work opportunity. If you have any questions about the summer school, please contact me and I will be happy to answer them. Thanks for your help recruiting students for the Los Alamos Dynamics Summer School. Additional information may be found on our website at


Chuck Farrar, Ph.D.

Engineering Institute

Los Alamos National Laboratory

LADSS Flyer 2018

2018 Rice Business Plan Competition – Applications Now Open!

Compete to join the world’s biggest business plan competition, where collegiate entrepreneurs get real-world experience in how to pitch their startups to investors, integrate with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, enhance their startup strategy, connect with mentors, and learn what it takes to launch a successful business.
Applications now open
Visit for details