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See previous semesters' awarded projects and outcomes below.

Spring 2018 Awarded Projects

Promoting Career Development for Students with Psychiatric Disabilities 

Submitter: Patrick Corrigan, Psy.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology
Department: Lewis College of Human Sciences
Activity Themes: Research


Illinois Tech students with psychiatric disabilities experience multiple barriers to their college education and career development. These include failure to understand reasonable accommodations for the group, struggling with the newness of disabilities, dealing with the stigma related to psychiatric disorders, and lack of coordination among relevant services. Student career goals are restricted by psychiatric disability when students are unnecessarily counseled into “less demanding” professions, drop out prematurely, or miss out on useful mentoring and internship experiences. These concerns are further complicated by the diversity of Illinois Tech students. Hence, consistent with the core commitment to Diversity and Excellence in the Illinois Tech strategic plan -- Many Voices, One Vision -- we include students from ethnically diverse backgrounds in our project.

This project proposes a community-based participatory research project (CBPR) to understand barriers to Illinois Tech students with psychiatric disabilities. A CBPR team will comprise six ethnically diverse, Illinois Tech students as PARTNERS in developing and interpreting a survey of Illinois Tech stakeholders (students, faculty and staff) to understand the needs of our students with psychiatric disabilities. Others on the team include faculty from the Illinois Tech’s Counselling and Rehabilitation Science Program (CRSP) in the Department of Psychology (Drs. Corrigan and Sheehan) and Mr. Walley, director of the Illinois Tech Center for Disability Resources (CDR). The CBPR team will use findings from this survey to begin development of a supported education and career development (SECD) program for this group of students. Clear benchmarks assessing progress include regular meetings of the CBPR team, collection and analysis of focus groups to obtain information about student need, and completion of a preliminary SECD program. Findings will be sustained through CDR communication and dissemination mechanisms.

Integration of Industrial Speakers in MMAE 524 Fundamentals of Combustion

Submitter: Carrie M. Hall, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Materials and Aerospace Engineering
Department: Armour College of Engineering
Activity Themes: Enhancing IIT's Industry Network


The goal of this project is to improve industrial connections to IIT by introducing stronger industry connections to an existing MMAE course. MMAE 524, Fundamentals of Combustion, is taught every other year and typically has an enrollment of 25-30 graduate and co-terminal students. These students are often nearing graduation and looking for internships and job opportunities in the combustion field. The course typically includes basics on the chemical and physical processes involved in combustion as well as various combustion applications (rocket propellants, internal combustion engines,…). The discussion of these topics would be enhanced by including industrial experts who can discuss the applications of these principles in their products.

The Chicago area is home to a number of industrial companies that are doing research and development in the combustion field, but most have little to no connection with IIT. This course presents an opportunity to involve engineers from industry directly in the class by inviting them as guest speakers to speak about their work on key combustion topics that are already typically discussed in the course. Speakers will be invited from companies including the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), Navistar, Gamma Technologies, Caterpillar, and ClearFlame Engines. In this revised course, topics such as spray combustion will still be covered (as in the existing version), but a speaker who works in the development of fuel injectors and studies the impact of spray formation on combustion will be integrated in to the course.

Inviting these speakers will enhance their connection to IIT and potentially open up additional opportunities for research projects with these companies and internships for IIT students. In addition, a stronger industry connection in this course will improve the understanding of the students making them more competitive in the job market. Homework assignments will be developed in collaboration with the speakers to cover the particular applications presented by them giving the students an improved mastery of the material.


Submitter: Gurram Gopal, Ph.D., Industry Professor, Industrial Technology and Management
Department: School of Applied Technology
Activity Themes: Enhancing IIT's Industry Network

The Industrial Technology and Management Department had 183 students enrolled as of Spring 2017. The majority of them are international graduate students. These students want to work in the United States after graduation and gain industry experience. It has been extremely challenging to prepare the students and find opportunities for them. This grant activities are targeted for specific outcomes.

  • A professional INTM Research Highlights e-brochure/bulletin will be developed and distributed to professionals in the manufacturing and supply chain/logistics fields. This brochure will highlight the special projects completed by students at the end of Spring, Summer and Fall terms. Print copies will also be made and distributed to INTM visitors. A unique aspect of the INTM graduate program is the Special Projects. INTM IIT Europe students do a 6 credit Master’s Special Projects, and some of them are of publication quality. If prospective employers could see the depth and breadth of analytical work done by these graduate students they would be more aware of the talent of our graduates.
  • A “Careers in Industry” event with speakers from industry and advisory board members in each of three focus areas- Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management, and Industrial Facilities.  A number of the INTM advisory board members have expressed interest in taking a more active role in student internships. The Careers in Industry events will allow each of the three primary specialization areas/associations to invite industry professionals (from companies in which we have no presence) for guest lectures on careers and career preparation. This will also connect the professionals to the INTM program. 
  • Lean, Six Sigma and Agile implementation skills are being required by many employers. INTM currently does not have courses in this area. An experienced industry professional would conduct a workshop for students, and train them in these skills. 

Sustainable Business Innovation Clinic (SBIC) at IIT Stuart

Submitter: Nasrin R. Khalili, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Management
Department: Stuart School of Business
Activity Themes: Enhancing IIT's Industry Network


The Sustainable Business Innovation Clinic at Stuart School of Business (SBIC@IIT.Stuart) will be a vehicle for bridging the gap between theoretical and practical concepts of education, while extending learning beyond the lecture-room into actual practice. The Clinic will concentrate on diagnostics, development, and marketing with a focus on supporting sustainable economic development through innovation in technical and management domains. Multi-disciplinary, qualified, and experienced teams of faculty and students will provide both technical and business solutions to public and private sector organizations. Problem diagnostics and solutions will be formulated in a collaborative environment involving both industry and academic units. Ongoing communication with the industry will ensure on-time delivery of the results.

SBIC@IIT.Stuart will aim to at boost economic development in Illinois through collaboration with small- and medium-size industry. The majority of these companies continue to experience little revenue growth, zero profitability, inadequate capitalization, and a myriad of corporate and administrative headaches. One key cause of such business problems is the unwillingness of senior management to find professional assistance for basic, yet critical, fundamental management areas. The major difference between companies with successful growth and companies that are unprofitable and stagnant is that successful company management recognizes the need for immediate change. By focusing on the importance of business diagnostics for a company’s economic success, SBIC will provide process, product and business design diagnostics to businesses through SBIC educational paradigm. 

Vision: To be a global leader in promoting sustainable economic development through innovation in science, engineering, and management in interdisciplinary research and education.

Mission: To promote education and research in the areas of sustainable economic development while contributing significantly to the development of businesses at local, national, and global levels, focusing on innovations in product/process/operation/supply chain design.

Slogan: Differentiate the IIT by offering a multi-disciplinary education concentrating on business innovation and sustainability in a close relationship with industry and business.

Benefits: The benefits of the proposed educational program include:

  • Enhancing student academic experiences
  • Promoting experiential learning
  • Providing real world experience
  • Understanding interdisciplinary nature of business development processes and engineering design
  • Creating value, reputation, and visibility for IIT programs and graduates
  • Promoting sustainable economic development

The SBIC@IIT.Stuart Innovation Grant funding is generously supported by the Coleman Foundation and the Stuart School of Business Coleman Foundation Clinical Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship.


Spring 2017 Awarded Projects


Submitter: Professor Thomas E. Brock, Studio Associate Professor, Master of Architecture YR2 Coordinator
Department: College of Architecture
Activity Themes: ​​Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Proposal Description

The curtain-wall technology that first emerged in the mid-twentieth century is not the diverse facade technology of today. Advanced enclosure system design, facade engineering, and new product development have produced an array of high-performance solutions that extend beyond the initial concept of a simple weather barrier. Along with these widespread advances in building technology are the concomitant effects of industry specialization and large-scale pre-fabrication which are changing the traditional role of the design professional. Now more than ever, the architect/engineer’s knowledge of industry standards, familiarity with component assembly procedures and ability to collaborate effectively with industry professionals is crucial to the success of any project involving advanced enclosure design. It is therefore very important for us as educators to not only provide the latest information about this rapidly advancing area of practice but to also introduce students to the collaborative processes and skills that are its true catalyst in the real world.

The principal goal of this proposed course is to expose IIT students to the current and future realities of exterior wall design and construction, focusing principally on high-performance custom curtain walls in high-rise construction. Additionally, we intend to illustrate, through real examples and direct contact with industry professionals, the entire process from early conceptualization, through design and engineering to construction and commissioning. As well as Professor Brock’s lectures on the current state of the art, the class will include frequent presentations by Chicago’s true experts in the industry and field trips to design offices, manufacturing/assembly plants and testing facilities located throughout the Midwest.


We were highly successful in fulfilling our primary goal. We started with introductory materials intended to orient the students, give them a useable vocabulary and understanding of the constituent components of high performance curtain walls. Then, we took them out into the real world to see the entire process unfold, week by week. Not only were we able to educate them about a rapidly developing aspect of building technology, but also illustrate the intricate and interactive processes that allow them to be executed. Students went on a total of 12 field trips that were sequenced to focus on each subsequent step in realizing an advanced curtain wall design, from early conceptualization to final commissioning. Since we are fortunate to be here in Chicago, the home of high-rise construction, the people giving these presentation are true leaders in this advanced area of building technology.

Because we were dealing with real-world professionals (with real-world problems) there were some last-minute changes and several had to back out on their commitments. But, for the same reason, these professionals took the initiative to set up suitable substitutes and we were able to continue unhindered. Another challenge we faced occurred during the last week of classes. For architecture students, this week is called “review week” and it is that time when their studio design work is up for evaluation. We had excellent, nearly perfect attendance for the entire semester with the exception of the final trip, where 5 of the 15 were absent and the remainder wanted to keep the visit as brief as possible. In the future, we would like to improve implementation by ensuring there is no conflict with review week and by hiring a Teaching Assistant.


Submitter: ​Professor Kristina Bauer, Assistant Professor of Psychology, and Caribay Garcia Marquez
Department: ​​Lewis College of Human Sciences
Activity Theme: Build an online gamified course to teach students how to write an eye catching resume. Leverage technology, gamification, and learning to provide a valuable career resource for students to optimize their resumes.


The purpose of this project is to develop a gamified resume building course that will engage and motivate students to learn as well as serve as a tool for research. The course will include learning content, practice activities, and assessments (i.e., quizzes) that provide guidance for crafting a resume with an emphasis on translating on-campus and off-campus activities into meaningful experiences – a particularly difficult task for students. Students will leave the course with a completed resume for their professional portfolio. The course will be housed on a gamification software platform, Gametize®, and will be accessible for all students at Illinois Tech via the platform.

The academic goal of this project is to contribute to the research on gamification. Limited theory-driven research is available. Yet, gamification is an attractive approach for engaging learners and can be customized to meet individual learners’ needs. Therefore, the project will test the theory of gamified learning (Landers 2014), the only theoretical framework exploring the contribution of unique game attributes in gamified experiences. Specifically, the project will test the impact of a single game attribute (i.e., assessment) on learning through self-efficacy. By assessing the mediating mechanism of self-efficacy, the project will begin to unravel how game attributes impact learning. Additionally, this study will expand the theory of gamified learning by exploring the direct and interactive (with the game attribute) influence of goal orientation (an individual difference) on self-efficacy and subsequently cognitive and skill-based learning. In line with aptitude treatment interaction research, a personalized gamified experience would be an ideal learning experience. The examination of goal orientation will provide information about whether specific game attributes are more or less motivating to specific individuals. Thus, results could be used to customize gamification interventions, such that the appropriate game attributes are used for the appropriate individuals.


Participants were recruited on campus with the help of career services. We also used social media outlets to promote the course more broadly (e.g., Illinois Tech’s Facebook page, Reddit). A total of 74 individuals have completed the course to date. Of those 74, 32 are Illinois Tech
students. Of those 32 students, 15 submitted their resume for review. Participants that submitted their resume for review, received a detailed, individualized feedback report. The feedback report included valuable advice on how to improve their resume as well as a % match of their resume to a job/internship they indicated interest in applying for. Of the 15 students that submitted their resume, 100% of them indicated they enjoyed the course and were satisfied with the experience. Furthermore, 93% indicated that the course was interesting, useful, and relevant to their professional development.

Several challenges were faced. The two most significant challenges pertained to technical limitations with the software and attrition rates. Technical limitations with the software & design​: to adhere to our experimental design we required specific capabilities from the software to isolate game elements. On a couple of occasions this was not possible; therefore, we made small modifications to the course design in terms of the game attributes not the content itself. date. Another challenge we faced was an unideal rate of attrition, which could diminish the impact of the course on the Illinois Tech community. Note that a student can complete the course and choose not to submit their resume. To address this problem, a follow-up reminder email was sent to each participant that did not complete the course after 7 and 14 days from signing up and we increased promotional effort by visiting classes and explaining the course and its benefits.

Despite high attrition rates, students that completed the course and submitted their resume reported high satisfaction with the learning experience. Therefore a milestone at this initial “reporting” stage is the positive reactions of those who participated and completed the course to its entirety.


Submitter:Professor Rong Wang, Ph.D., Chemistry, Graduate Director |Director, International Center for Sensor Science and Engineering
Department: ​Chemistry (College of Science)
Activity Theme: Structuring and offering a new course on “Sensor Science and Technology” (CHEM 610-01), through which students not only learned the fundamentals for sensor design, but also were provided with the opportunity to directly interact with industrial scientists. The activities would inspire and benefit the students to engage in translational research for career development.

Proposal Description

The goal of the project is to provide the students with the opportunity to directly interact with industrial scientists for bridging the gap between classroom learning and practical applications. This project will include the following activities to inspire and benefit the students to engage in translational research for career development: (1) provide the opportunity for students to directly interact with industrial scientists who will be invited to deliver guest lectures for a newly developed course to be offered in spring 2017; (2) include students in presentations and discussions with industrial scientists on the current state-of-the-art sensing technology; (3) engage students in sensor design while encourage their consultation with industrial scientists.

Professor Wang is scheduled to offer a new course on “Sensor Science and Technology” (CHEM 610-01 cross-listed with CHEM497-01) in Spring 2017. The course is intended for graduate students and senior undergraduate students, and is designed across disciplines of chemistry, biology, physics, chemical engineering and electrical engineering. Besides regular lectures to introduce the mechanism, platform and targets of various sensors, special guest lectures will be delivered by industrial scientists to introduce sensor devices in use for cleaner environment, more efficient energy usage, earlier diagnosis and effective treatment of diseases, and safer food. The International Center for Sensor Science and Engineering (ICSSE, has 19 members, including industrial scientists representing 7 companies. These scientists have agreed to offer guest lectures. Beyond the opportunity for students to interact with individual industrial scientists in the classroom setting, the students will also participate in the ICSSE’s monthly meetings at IIT, in which they will join the academic and industrial scientists to exchange ideas, discuss challenges and propose solutions. Through these experiences, the students will improve their learning, communication, analytical and critical thinking skills, which are essential in any stage of career development. Students taking the course will be required to partner with others and design sensors of their own interests. They will be encouraged to consult with academic and industrial scientists (all members of ICSSE are committed to this course). Through these activities, the students will not only attain a broad and in-depth acquaintance with fundamentals and applications of sensor science and technology, but also benefit the direct interaction with industrial scientists, which will likely lead to internships. In the previous ICSSE meeting (Nov. 18, 2016), multiple companies indicated their interests in taking our students for internship. As the director of the Center, Professor Wang is making steady progress in expanding the Center’s industrial network, which is intended to benefit the students’ career development and the university as a whole.

In summary, the proposed activities provide students with a set of skills specialized in sensor development through interdisciplinary training to solve real-world problems. The integrative teaching and collaborative learning approach will prepare the students to tackle large and complex problems, to obtain personal and professional skills to succeed in their careers and to become leaders in the science and engineering of the future.

Reported Outcomes

Three guest lectures were arranged in coordination with course contents, with an emphasis on specifying the practical needs and requirements for sensor development; Dr. Ali Oskouie, senior scientist at Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, delivered a guest lecture on “Sensor application in wastewater Industry”, Dr. Hongjun Zeng, lead scientist of product development at Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc., delivered a guest lecture on “Ultrananocrystalline diamond for biosensors”, and Dr. John-Bruce D. Green, Senior research scientist at Baxter Healthcare Corporation, delivered a guest lecture on “Miniaturization, microfabrication and nanotechnology for sensor development”. Many students actively engaged in discussions in the classes and communicated with the scientists after the lectures.

The ICSSE meetings were attended by faculty, industrial scientists, and students to identify areas of particular need and interest among the group. In these meetings, all of our students witnessed the discussions among the faculty and industrial scientists to identify targets, list practical concerns and explore methods of solutions. They actively engaged in discussions with individual scientists during the free discussion session. They learnt the significance, innovation and state-of-the-art design of approaches for sensor development, and were inspired by the inventions detailed by the speakers. Many students incorporated the discussions in their assignments and final reports. These activities impacted the students in the development of critical thinking skills.

In the final project, students were required to propose the design of a new sensor with environmental or biomedical applications. 1-3 students partnered and carried out teamwork to design sensors, organize presentation and defend their proposal in front of the class. Each student was also required to write a minimum of 5-page proposal. The proposed sensors were impressive and some were quite innovative. These include paper sensor for detection of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia gases in environment, metal-organic framework (MOF) based arsenic sensor, nanoparticle-mediated arsenic sensor using a microfluidic system, electronic tongue based on PPV for simultaneous detection of multiple heavy metals. Students identified the importance of the problem that the proposed sensor addresses, considered the strengths and weaknesses of published research or commercial sensors, explained how the proposed sensor would improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or practical application in one or more broad fields, and described the innovative ideas behind the new sensors.


Submitter: Professor Carly A. Kocurek, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Digital Humanities and Media Studies
Department: Lewis School of Human Sciences
Activity Themes: ​Design competition and professional networking

Proposal Description

A number of IIT students produce games as part of class projects or for hackathons or other entrepreneurial events; however, few students fully realize these projects. Similarly, while there is significant student interest in pursuing careers in the games industry, professionalization opportunities on campus are limited. Professor Kocurek is proposing a Juried Exhibit of Student Game Designs to be held on campus in spring 2017. Student designers (individuals or teams) would submit games to be judged by reviewers with professional expertise in the industry; reviewers would select 12-15 games to be featured at the event and additionally choose 3 games for special recognition. The reviewers and others from local industry will be invited to the reception-style exhibit providing students with opportunities to network while also showing student projects to the broader Chicago professional community. Winning teams will receive a certificate and have the opportunity to meet with one of the jurors to ask questions about the industry and how to further develop their games.

The goal of this project is to highlight the high-quality game design projects IIT students are already completing by displaying them to members of the community and to area professionals. Ideally the event will also encourage more students to complete their own designs. Recruiters for game companies often ask applicants what games they have completed, and by providing a clear opportunity for public exhibit, this event will help students prepare for these kinds of professional hurdles. The audience for this project includes both IIT students and area games professionals. Exhibiting a game at a juried event is a significant milestone for independent game developers and this local campus event can help professionalize students into these practices while helping them build relevant networks.  The judges will be a mix of area games industry professionals and a faculty member from well ranked game development graduate program.


We successfully held a student game exhibit in March at which students were able to display games, receive feedback from peers, games professionals, and community members. The exhibit featured 13 games; 9 of these were by IIT student teams, and 4 were from students at other area campuses. The event was attended by approximately 30 people, including members of the IIT community (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) as well as area professionals including 4 game developers from the Chicago area, 2 faculty members from universities outside of Chicago that offer game design graduate degrees, and the CEO of the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. We worked with 3 judges: Chicago game developer Cynthia Miller, best known for her work on We Are Chicago; Sarah Schoemann, who founded Different Games; and Jennifer deWinter, who is director of the Interactive Media and Game Development Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

All participating students received a report of judge feedback on their games. We received highly positive feedback from the professionals who attended; several said they had not previously been on the IIT campus and expressed hope that this will become an annual event. Finally, we were able to partner with Nik Rokop in the business school to offer a special prize to help a few student teams further prepare their games for release. Three teams from IIT were named finalists for the Coleman Foundation Game Development Prize. Each team prepared a budget and project plan which they then pitched to Rokop and me (Kocurek). All three teams were ultimately granted amounts from $1,000-$1,400 to aid in developing their games.

Feedback from student developers and the community was very positive, and we were also able to partner with the Coleman Foundation to offer additional rewards and support to student developers. Partnerships and collaborations with area campuses will also be fruitful as we continue to develop programming in this area. The only challenge faced was the timeline. In the future, this will be planned over a period of several more months, allowing more time to handle logistics on our end while also providing students more time to develop and submit games.



Submitter: Professor Paul R. Anderson, Ph.D., P.E., Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in Armour College of Engineering
Department: Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering
Activity Themes: Communications Training


This is a training program for building stronger professional and presentation skills for CAEE graduate students. The inspiration for the project stems from the intersection of a concern about the international graduate student experience and a desire to make better use of the CAEE graduate seminar course. Many international graduate students at IIT, although extremely talented with technical concepts in their chosen field of study, have a difficult time competing for intern or post-graduate opportunities because they lack confidence/experience with communication. These same students will take the CAEE graduate student seminar, which provides an opportunity to make that course more effective.

In fall 2017, the seminar will meet on Thursday afternoons on the IIT Main Campus; all sessions will be available through IIT online. We believe that what we learn from this proposed training program can have applications to all undergraduate and graduate students. Training for students in the seminar course will focus on the following communications topics:

  • Reframing the fear as courage and opportunity: Relax and connect to your audience.
  • Structure and clarity: Support your claims with evidence while providing logical flow.
  • Storytelling: First connection, then information.
  • Vocal Dynamics: Musical Scoring and Avoiding the Monotone Drone.
  • Physical Assessments: “What do I do with my hands?”
  • Thinking on your feet: An exercise in impromptu speaking.

The facilitator for the training efforts outlined here will be Dr. Daniel Moser from the Northwestern University (NU) School of Communication. Prof. Moser has 25 years of experience in the study, scholarship, coaching, and leadership of dynamic human performance and cultural communication. He has directed professional development activities for NU graduate students from the McCormick School of Engineering, the Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Kellogg School of Management, and the NU Adult Learning/School of Professional Studies, and he has worked with a variety of domestic and international firms.


There were 65 students registered for the CAEE graduate student seminar in fall 2017. To address the needs of working students and schedule conflicts, the seminar has a parallel online section, which means that all students have the option of attending the live class or watching the recorded videos.

Milestones and successes can be seen from the perspectives of students:

  • “The workshop, in general, was a wonderful and a great learning opportunity. After the first two workshops on "Professional Presence" and "The Pitch", I put into practice what had been thought at the workshop at a JDRF One Walk event, a fundraising event. There I was able to sustain a lengthy conversation with the general manager of Ford Motor Company of the Great Lakes area. I also plan to apply things I learned about effective communication to my upcoming interview for an internship.”
  • “This workshop was good at explaining the value of designing a presentation carefully with a specific audience and goal in mind. It also illustrated well some negative consequences, such as confusion and loss of attention, of not considering the size of the audience, for example, or having too much text on the slides that does not reinforce what is being said. Also it was good to learn about importance of a strong ending and the role of it in giving the audience an organic transition from receiving information to processing it and asking questions.”

The biggest challenge for these workshops was the venue. Because the CAEE graduate student seminar is a required, zero-credit course, student  attendance is sporadic (at least in part because the presentations are also available through the online section). My hope was that we could persuade students that these communication workshops provided a novel and valuable opportunity to learn about and practice communication skills. For some of the students, for some of the workshops, I believe that approach worked very well. The final two workshops, however, came at the end of the term, and student participation dropped from around 25 in the initial workshops to a half-dozen in the final workshop. I attribute the decline in attendance to at least two factors:

  • Students were asked to make a presentation at the final workshop, and they were insecure about their performance in class.
  • Students felt they had to choose between preparing for the presentation which would not be graded – and preparing for final exams in other courses.


Submitter: Professor Eun-Jeong Lee, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology
Department: Lewis College of Human Sciences
Activity Themes: Self-advocacy training program for students with disabilities.


In an effort to promote the retention and employment readiness of IIT students with disabilities, the primary goal of this project is to enhance the alliance between IIT’s Center for Disability Resources and the Division of Counseling and Rehabilitation Science (Department of Psychology) by developing a series of workshops that will provide the opportunity for students with disabilities to (a) engage in dialogue around the challenges faced by students with disabilities on campus, (b) gain confidence in their ability to advocate for their support needs, and (c) enhance their career readiness. Students with disabilities registered for services through IIT’s Center for Disability Resources will be invited to participate in six 90 minute weekly workshops to be held on campus. Workshops will accommodate 15-20 students, and topics will include: (a) self-advocacy, (b) career development, (c) disability rights, and (d) impression management techniques. In addition, three guest speakers from the community will be invited to share their experiences with students. Throughout the workshop sessions, students with disabilities will increase their understanding of their rights and develop strategies to advocate for themselves in various settings including the job interview. In addition, this project will help students organize an ongoing self-help group to support their education and career development that can last throughout their academic program.

A secondary aim of this project is to strengthen the relationship between the Center for Disability Resources and IIT’s Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling program. This is an important partnership that will result in experiential training opportunities for graduate level students in the counseling program as well as provide additional resources (interns) to the Center. Moreover, the goals of this project directly align with the university’s strategic mission in the areas related to (1) preparing students for significant and sustainable professional success, (2) commitment to diversity and excellence, and (3) focus on resource management.


The workshops will be developed and facilitated by four key individuals: three faculty in the Department of Psychology’s Division of Counseling and Rehabilitation Science (Dr. Eun-Jeong Lee, Dr. Nicole Ditchman, & Dr. Kelly Kazukauskas) and the Director of IIT’s Center for Disability Resources (Mr. Gary Walley, also adjunct faculty in Psychology), who are Certified Rehabilitation Counselors and/or Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors with extensive counseling and vocational rehabilitation experience. 

The faculty members and the director of disability resources worked together and developed the 6 weeks training workshop program. The presentation materials and recruitment flyers have been finalized and ready for printing services. The team also contacted few students to schedule the timeline. The schedule for workshops was set up. We are currently inviting guest speakers for the workshop session.

It was hard to schedule all the individuals involved in this project. However, we were able to overcome this challenge to utilize google drive and frequent email exchanges.


Submitter: Professor Christine Miller, Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Innovation
Department: Stuart School of Business
Activity Themes: Our goal was to introduce an alternative approach to ethics education based in situated learning, emphasizing communication tools and techniques that help make abstract concepts concrete and meaningful.


Most students have some exposure to ethics during their education; however, the concept of ethics is abstract and professional codes are intentionally general, which makes them impersonal. Research suggests that traditional ethics education involving lectures and/or case studies fails to engage students in meaningful ways. [1] For students, opportunities to apply ethics training in real world circumstances are rare, especially for those who will eventually work in multiple disciplinary teams where members may have different levels of training in, and interpretations of, what constitutes ethical practice. As the pace of innovation increases and new areas of scientific practice emerge, conventional ethics education may be insufficient for situations that students will encounter in their professional careers.

This proposal team includes Christine Miller (Stuart School), and Elisabeth Hildt, Kelly Laas and Stephanie Taylor from the Center for the study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP).  Based on lessons learned from a pilot event conducted in the summer 2017 REU program led by Professor Eric Brey, in which this team applied an alternative approach that introduces ethics in situ and at the level of teams and lab groups, this proposes a similar approach. An extracurricular supplement will be designed for the current Introduction to the Profession (ITP) in the BME program that includes two components: a hands-on workshop event followed by a panel of industry professionals who will discuss situations they have experienced relative to a range of ethical issues.  Participants will include Chicago members of the Ethics and Compliance Officers Association, with whom CSEP has a long-standing collaboration. The proposed approach will first invite students enrolled in BME 100 to participate with the support of the instructor of that course, Dr. Dhar, but the module can be adapted to any ITP course.

The team will work with designers Ciara Taylor and Samantha Dempsey who collaborated with Professor Brey and the Ethics Center on the REU workshop. Taylor and Dempsey are developers of a participatory approach to introducing ethics in the context of team-based projects. Along with collaborating on the development of the workshop event, they will help recruit individuals through their professional networks and prepare lectures for Illinois Tech students and faculty as part of their participation. Taylor and Dempsey’s initial project in developing ethics training was inspired by their experiences in professional practice. Their goal was to raise awareness among multiple disciplinary teams engaged in healthcare-related product and process design. They have facilitated workshops at multiple conferences and have since created another initiative which incorporates aspects of gamification, “the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.” [2]


Milestones included: 

  1. Securing cooperation with Prof. Dhar. Kelly Laas has been a guest lecture in Dr. Dhar’s class so she was willing to allow us to work with her BME 100 students.
  2. Collaboration with Samantha Dempsey and Ciara Taylor was arranged because of a previous project in Eric Brey’s summer REU program. We started by applying lessons learned through the REU to the development of a hands-on workshop for BME 100 students.
  3. Preparing students in BME 100: ITP to participate in the hands-on workshop by presenting BME ethics codes and engaging in discussion about their meaning and application. Students worked in groups of 5-6 peers to read and discuss existing ethics codes.
  4. A major milestone was the workshop facilitated by Dempsey and Taylor over 2 - 75 minute sessions. 52 students worked in their small groups to collaborate on how to create a prototype such as a game or skit that would communicate an ethical issue that was covered in an existing ethics code. We were excited and impressed to see how much creativity the students exhibited in creating and presenting their prototypes. 
  5. Hosting a lunch discussion with faculty interested in developing alternative ethics education projects. We planned this as an exchange to discuss how to develop alternatives to traditional ethics education across disciplines. 15 faculty and staff attended the event.
  6. Planning and facilitating the panel discussion “Ethics and Responsible Conduct in the Real World”. We were able to contact industry professionals in biomedical engineering, computer science, law, and business focusing on ethical questions and situations panelists have faced in their daily work. Three of our four panelists were IIT graduates.

We were fortunate that the challenges we encountered were not significant. All activities were well attended, although in the future we would not use the small dining rooms at the MTCC for a lunch meeting since the seating and lighting were not conducive to discussion. In addition, we would hope to have other ITP course instructors from across campus observe the workshop that we facilitated with the BME students to see what might be done as an alternative to traditional ethics modules.


Submitter: Arlen C. Moller, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology
Department: Lewis College of Human Sciences
Activity Themes: Environmental Psychology Speaker Series & New Course Development


This Faculty Innovation grant will fund a speaker series and development of a new undergraduate course on Environmental Psychology. Specifically, these funds will be used to invite at least two prominent environmental psychologists to campus to (a) give public colloquiums, and (b) provide consultation on new course development (e.g., review a proposed syllabus, discuss textbook and other assigned reading, etc.). One speaker will be from a researcher working at a university or think tank. A second speaker will be someone working in an applied/professional setting, either in government or the private sector. Funding would cover travel expenses and/or honorariums for the 2+ guest speakers. These speakers would be invited during the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters. The new undergraduate course (PSY380: Special Topics) would be offered for the first time during the Fall 2018 (or 2019) semester.


At least 300 students, faculty, and staff have been reached so far.  This estimate is based on the three Sustainability Forums that were made possible during the Fall 2017 semester.  Those talks were attended by approximately 100 guests in-person, the talks were also put online for wider reach.

We have successfully hosted three Sustainability Forums using these funds. Each speaker was awarded a $500 honorarium to help defray their travel expenses. Each traveled from out of state to speak at IIT. Each talk was attended by 60-80 members of the IIT community live, and videos of all three talks are now available to the general public on IIT’s YouTube channel.

The PI, Arlen Moller, attended the Society of Behavioral Medicine conference from April 11-14. Attending this conference allowed the PI to network with international experts, university researchers and industry professionals, working to advance basic research and application of environmental psychology. Noteworthy examples include cutting edge research using virtual reality simulations of nature (e.g., river rafting) to benefit immobile patients recovering from surgery or coping with high levels of pain (e.g., as an alternative to pharmacological pain killers).


Submitter: Armand Paradis, Ph.D., Director of Business Development at IFSH
Department: School of Applied Technology
Activity Themes: Direct Student Professional Development


This project is designed to 1) integrate and draw upon key food science concepts from the core department curriculum and 2) provide a unique off-site hands-on commercial kitchen level product development and prototyping experience for IIT Graduate students enrolled in the FDSN 508 course. When this course was first offered in the spring of 2016 over 60 students enrolled. The course was extremely popular with the students. The overwhelming feedback from the students was that the course should be further improved with an actual hands-on maker experience for the project teams.

Therefore, this innovative project objective is to provide a real-world application of the principles taught in the lecture hall. In partnership with world renowned Charlie Baggs Innovation Center, project teams in groups of 4-5 students will be formed so that all functions of a high performance product development team are represented. All students will be able to work hands- on with food materials in the Charlie Baggs Innovation Center, Chicago, IL. Students will select a project area and produce food sample prototypes within the scale and capability of the Charlie Baggs R&D Innovation kitchen. Project topics will address translation of benchtop prototypes into processing requirements in the cereal, beverage, produce, bakery, dairy and several other food product segments. A special emphasis will be placed on the product design and prototype development process, key functional roles in project teams, and identification of the critical project path.

Students in this project will learn and demonstrate how to do the following:

  • Identify the key steps in the food product design and prototype development process
  • Develop a product formulation approach with ability to understand how to work with vendors, research chefs, handle nutritional labeling regulations, food safety and consumer acceptability requirements.
  • Identify key performance requirements for product shelf life testing and packaging specifications
  • Estimate product costing for market launch.

At the end of this project the student project teams will give presentations to a select invited group of Chicago Food and Beverage Network mentors to create a real-world pitch experience. Invited mentors will have first- hand opportunity to consider these students for follow-on internships or full time hires.