Professor Gabrielle Lam Receives Mara H. Wasburn Early Engineering Educator Grant

SBME’s very own Assistant Professor of Teaching, Gabrielle Lam has been awarded the American Society for Engineering Education Mara H. Wasburn Early Engineering Educator Grant. This grant is awarded to a woman who has demonstrated commitment to innovation in teaching, as well as a commitment to increasing access, retention and advancement of women in engineering.

Professor Lam’s key work and interests lie in investigating effective implementation of experiential learning in large and diverse class settings.

She has explored this interest through two multi-year projects to develop learning tools to encourage students to wrestle with “messy” (imperfect, but realistic) experimental data; this would otherwise be difficult to implement in a large class setting. She is also working to understand how courses may be scaffolded to support students’ ability to regulate and control their own learning (self-regulated learning skills), a lifelong learning skill that students take beyond their undergraduate degree.

Her work has been made possible with support from university-awarded funding, including the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Seed Fund.

“Mentorship is at the core of why I chose a career in engineering education,” says Lam. “I’ve been fortunate to have had amazing mentors throughout my life, who have invested in me in various ways. A major driving force in my role and work is to use the skills, time and resources that I have been given to give back to the upcoming generation.” In particular, Professor Lam wants to encourage, support and work with underrepresented and underprivileged groups in engineering. And just three years into her career at UBC, the impact of her passion and efforts is already being felt.

“I’ve loved working with bright and curious young people through pedagogical research projects, through discussing life and career challenges inside and outside of the classroom, as well as networking sessions.” Her favorite moments to date? “Working with a stellar team of biomedical engineering graduate and undergraduate students to create and deliver workshops, showcases and activities for the Science World Girls and STEAM event. Together, we were able to communicate discipline-specific knowledge to the general public and share our enthusiasm for giving back to the greater community.”

The Impact of this Grant

Professor Lam is driven to create academic environments and experiences in which students can learn at their natural best. With this grant, she hopes to expand her own network of like-minded educators who are doing the same. “As of this summer, I am keen to incorporate community-engaged learning in a relatively new technical elective course on Biomedical Materials and Drug Delivery,” says Lam. “I’m excited to learn more about how  collaborations with community partners can be used to develop well-rounded students, who not only have grounded technical knowledge, but who appreciate the interconnections between engineering and society, who are socially aware and have a sense of civic responsibility.”

And that sense of responsibility is key. The best students are those who learn to lead both as individuals and as members of larger groups. And leading is a profound responsibility. Whether it is a professor who is inspiring students to grow, or a student who is inspired to discover how they learn best, that responsibility is undeniable. This grant recognizes Professor Lam’s deep and abiding sense of that obligation.

“It’s such an honor and encouragement to have received this award, and I wouldn’t have been able to do so without support from fantastic colleagues and mentors along the way.”

Congratulations Dr. Lam, from all of us at SBME.