11 attend Future Faculty Workshops

Eleven graduate and post-doctoral students from across Purdue’s College of Engineering will attend Future Faculty Workshops at four different U.S. institutions by the end of the fall 2019 semester.
Photo of Hongjie Jiang
Dr. Hongjie Jiang completed his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue in Fall 2018 and is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at Purdue University. Here, he presents his research at the University of Dayton’s Academic Research Colloquium. (Photo courtesy of Christian Cubacub of the University of Dayton)

Future Faculty Workshops are run by other institutions to train graduate students and postdoctoral researchers for faculty careers. The workshops prepare them to become faculty members and also help institutions meet and recruit new faculty.

“These workshops help prepare graduate students to be productive faculty members,” said Dr. Jacqueline McDermott, Assistant Director of Graduate Recruitment and Retention in Purdue Engineering. “I am especially excited about these workshops because the majority of the graduate students attending from Purdue are also part of the Engineering Academic Career Club (EACC).”

McDermott explained that some graduate students may want a career in academia but need additional mentoring to know how to navigate the complex process. The workshops provide mentoring, networking and presentation experience for them to succeed.

Nine Purdue Engineering graduate students and two post-doctoral researchers were selected to attend these Future Faculty Workshops this semester:

NextProf Nexus, Georgia Tech:

  • Jackie Cha, Industrial Engineering
  • Jessica Eisma, Civil Engineering
  • Dr. Melinda Lake, Mechanical Engineering
  • Monique McClain, Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Renee Obringer, Environmental and Ecological Engineering

NextProf Pathfinder, University of Michigan:

  • Jennifer Anderson, Biomedical Engineering
  • Ángel Enriquez Mujica, Biomedical Engineering
  • Vanessa Kwarteng, Mechanical Engineering

Academic Research Colloquium, University of Dayton

  • Veeraraghava Raju Hasti, Mechanical Engineering
  • Dr. Hongjie Jiang, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Future Faculty Workshop, University of Delaware and Princeton University:

  • Caitlyn Clarkson, Materials Engineering
Photo of Dr. Brandon Pitts and Jackie Cha
Dr. Brandon Pitts, Assistant Professor in industrial engineering, and Jackie Cha, a PhD candidate in industrial engineering, attended NextProf Nexus at Georgia Tech. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Cha)

Why would a graduate student want to attend a Future Faculty Workshop?

Ángel G. Enríquez Mujica, a second-year Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering, wants to create a positive impact in Puerto Rico as a biomedical engineering professor. “My goal is to become a professor at my alma mater, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez,” he said. “I want to help it in reaching new levels of research and instill programs to prevent the ‘brain drain’ that is currently affecting the island’s economy.”

Jennifer Anderson, a second-year Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering, wants to have a faculty career because she says she loves teaching and research, and wants the opportunity to have a larger positive impact on humanity. She found the workshop extremely helpful.

“As a woman in engineering, and with parents who did not go on to graduate school, I was pretty clueless about the requirements and expectations of a faculty application,” Anderson explained. “I wanted to understand the spoken and unspoken requirements and how to best use my graduate career for a competitive application upon graduation.”

“The healthcare landscape is ever-changing, and I want to contribute to the research that shapes the future,” said Jackie Cha, a PhD student in industrial engineering. “I also want to lead the new generation of future engineers and society through research, teaching, and service.”

“I love research and the process of discovery,” said Renee Obringer, a 5th-year PhD student in environmental and ecological engineering. “I also like that academia allows you to have the freedom to choose research topics.” Obringer said attending the NextProf Nexus workshop was practical. “I wanted to meet people that were also interested in faculty careers, as well as gain valuable information to aid in the application process,” she said.

“Academia offers me the best combination of the things I enjoy: research, mentoring, and teaching,” said Caitlyn Clarkson, a 5th-year PhD student in materials engineering.

Clarkson attended a Future Faculty Workshop sponsored by the University of Delaware and Princeton University. “A lot of the advice I received there was similar to advice I had received on campus from seminars, but the networking opportunities for people in my own field were much better,” she said.

What did Purdue Engineering participants learn?

At the workshops, students meet mentors and future collaborators, attend panel discussions, understand the faculty search process, prepare for the academic job market, learn what to expect when starting an academic career, and hear about how to build a successful research program.

Enríquez Mujica said he learned the importance of discussing goals and a clear graduation timeline with his advisor. “Make sure you work together and collaborate to achieve your PhD objectives to be a competitive faculty applicant,” he advised.

The workshop Anderson attended helped her think about the importance of being selective for future service opportunities. “Faculty committees are more interested in your ability to do research than service,” she said. “This does not mean you should not do service, but it does mean saying no to some service opportunities that are probably still really great.”

Meeting great mentors and colleagues, as well as gaining resources to help with the application process, were what Cha appreciated. “As a woman in engineering, I wanted to hear the stories and experiences of women faculty that have successfully built their careers and gain insights and tips for an academic career,” she said.

These graduate students also learned how to prepare for the academic job market. Obringer said the biggest thing she learned from the workshop was about the varied expectations that universities and departments have for application packages. Further, the workshop was valuable to Clarkson because she learned about chalk talks and actually had to give one. She will use the workshop information and advice to help develop her application package.

Photo of Hasti V. Raju
Hasti V. Raju, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering, presents a talk at the University of Dayton’s Academic Research Colloquium. (Photo/Christian Cubacub of the University of Dayton)

How is one selected to attend a workshop?

Applying and being accepted to a workshop is a competitive process. Each of these workshops typically have a maximum of 20-30 students from all over the United States. As the College of Engineering had 11 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in total who were selected to attend workshops this fall, Purdue Engineering is certainly defining their excellence in training the next generation of engineering faculty leaders across the country.

McDermott says participating in the Engineering Academic Career Club (EACC) helps: “It focuses on building a community of Purdue College of Engineering graduate students and postdocs who are interested in pursuing academic and faculty careers.”

She helped graduate students develop the EACC in the fall of 2018 when she learned that Dean Mung Chiang was interested in encouraging more graduate students to go on to successful faculty careers. “That sparked the idea of the EACC in order to have students navigate their way into those careers,” she said.

More info: EACC website

Upcoming events:

  • Thursday Oct. 24 – 4:30-6:30PM – Demystifying Faculty Applications. Part 2: Interviewing and Negotiating, BRWN 1154 - RSVP
  • Tuesday Nov. 5 – 11:30AM-1PM – Future Engineering Faculty and Professionals (FEFP) Workshop - Be a Competitive Candidate: Obtaining a Post-Doc Position, PGSC - RSVP
  • Thursday Dec. 5 –  5:00-6pm – Speed Networking and Social, location TBA

Past Events: EACC Archived Events (Summer 2019)

Preparing future engineering faculty is just one way that Purdue Engineering will impact tomorrow’s students, researchers and innovators.