By Mark Dwortzan
Assistant Professor Ahmad (Mo) Khalil (BME, Bioinformatics) was selected as one of 77 innovative early-career educators to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) sixth Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) symposium on October 26-29 in Irvine, California. Chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants who are actively teaching in US engineering programs and have recently implemented significant innovations in their classes, the attendees were nominated by NAE members or deans.
A leading researcher in the field of synthetic biology, Khalil has also made his mark as an educator. In his first year on the Boston University faculty (2012-13), he received the College of Engineering Award for Excellence in Teaching in the BME Department. Based on a student vote, the award recognized his innovative teaching of the course Thermodynamics & Statistical Mechanics, in which he illustrated thermodynamics concepts with modern applications and examples in biomedical engineering. With funding from his 2013 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, he is now piloting a “synthetic biology bootcamp” for high school students—the first of its kind—that combines interactive lesson plans, hand-on lab experiences and an independent project.
At the conference, Khalil will join young faculty members who are advancing innovative approaches in a variety of engineering disciplines. In workshops, discussions and networking events, participants will exchange ideas and learn about best practices that they can apply at their home institutions.
“Participating in FOEE will help me improve as an educator both personally and in my efforts to more broadly effect positive change in engineering education,” said Khalil. “I am also enthusiastic to contribute to and lead critical discussions centered on how we, the broader engineering community, envision shaping and standardizing synthetic biology curriculum across institutions of higher learning.”
The Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) program draws top university faculty to explore how best to prepare the next generation of engineers to take on societal challenges, from updating course content to revamping how that content gets delivered. The ultimate goal of FOEE is to foster a vibrant community of emerging education leaders who can help boost the engineering and innovation capability of the nation.