toolsLAB is directed by Dr. Aditya Johri (Ph.D., Stanford), Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, with support from wonderful students and collaborators at Virginia Tech and other institutions.
Research at toolsLAB is funded in part by NSF (DUE, IIS, EEC Divisions), Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Sciences (ICTAS), corporate partners, College of Engineering, Office of International Research and Education Development (OIRED), and the Department of Engineering Education.
At the technology, open organizing, & learning sciences laboratory (toolsLAB) we examine how digital tools afford new ways of reorganizing knowledge sharing and knowledge building and impact learning and working. Through a fundamental understanding of the change occurring within the engineering profession and education, we aim to design tools and technologies to prepare innovative future engineers and to support their learning and work practices.
We conduct ethnohraphically-informed qualitative field studies to develop an interpretive understanding of issues and often follow that up with design-based research for developing and testing systems and curricula.
Current Lab Members (Fall 2012): (Standing L to R ) Bram Lewis, Andrea Goncher, Vaishali Nandy, Hon Jie Toe; (Sitting L to R) Krunal Doshi, Bushra Chowdhury and Lina Garada.
Here is a list and brief description of our current and past projects:
Global Engineering Practices
In this project we are investigating new foms of organizing that span global locations to understand their differences from location-based, although technology intensive, practices. We are currently working with a corporate partner to compare and contrast traditional software development and open source software development. This follows work we have done comparing geographically distributed R&D and innovation. This work is funded through an NSF Early Career Award. A current related project funded by the Office of International Research Education and Development at Virginia Tech examined the role of private firms and role of engineers in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Generation Act (NREGA) of India.
Graduate Research Assistant: Hon Jie Teo (Ph.D. Engineering Education); Vaishali Nandy (Ph.D. Curriculum & Instruction)
Information & Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D)
In this collaborative project, with Prof. Akshay Sharma in Industrial Design, our lab is working on design and implementation of technologies to assist people living on less than $2/day and NGOs and other organizations working to improve their lives. We are working on projects related to education in night schools, immunization, prosthetics, among others.
Creativity in Engineering Design
In this NSF sponsored project we are examining the effect of digital tools on creativity within the context of constrained activities, such as engineering design (co-PIs: Vinod Lohani & Deborah Tatar). In particular, we are studying how the affordance of technology – in this case Tablet PCs – for concurrent creation and sharing of digital representations (organizing) affects creativity and innovation. The design and development of artifacts is increasingly being undertaken globally by converting prototypes and specimens into digital images and this project aims to understand the digital aspect of design practices. The design activity used for this project is the design of renewable energy sources and infrastructure for a farm in New Hampshire which is off the grid.
Graduate Research Assistant: Andrea Goncher (Ph.D. Candidate, Engineering Education); Lina Garada (Undergraduate Research Assistant)
Past Graduate Research Assistants: Shreya Kothaneth (M.S., ISE), James Pembridge (Ph.D., Engineering Education)
Knowledge and Portfolio Mining
In the vtkn project we are developing new tools and models of interdiscipimary knowledge building through social network analysis. We are working on different metrics for measuring and drawing of networks looking for sources that help us combine and map both formal and informal networks (VTKN, funded by ICTAS, co-PI: Alan Wang) and network and field study data. The goal of this proejct is to understand the emergence of interdisciplinary collaboration among academics and academic units at Virginia Tech to understand how knowledge networks form at the organizational level (VTKN, funded by ICTAS).
Graduate Research Assistant: Bushra Chowdhury (Ph.D., Engineering Education); Krunal Doshi (M.S. Comptuer Science)
Past Graduate Research Assistant: Ashwin Khandeparker (M.S. Computer Science), Xiaomo Liu (Ph.D., Computer Science)
A follow-up project based on this research is iKneer (interactive knowledge networks in engineering education) with collaborators from Purdue University (Krishna Madhavan, Brent Jesiek, Phil Wankat).
In a related project, funded by NSF, we are examining newcomer participation in open source communities. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Vandana Singh at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Past Graduate Research Assistant: Raktim Mitra (M.S. Industrial and Systems Engineering)