Staff Spotlight: Erika Mosyjowski

Erika Mosyjowski serves C-SED as the Research and Faculty Engagement Manager. She joined our team early this summer and is looking forward to her first academic year on the job!

How/why did you become involved with C-SED?

I’ve been involved in research efforts related to understanding and challenging often narrowly technical conceptions of engineering work for some time, including research on barriers to and supports for integrating more socially and contextually relevant content in engineering training and practice. One of the folks I have collaborated with on this research is Shanna Daly, who is one of the co-founders of C-SED. As my research work with her expanded to include several projects directly related to C-SED’s resources for supporting socially-engaged and DEI-focused engineering training, an opportunity arose for me to join C-SED to more directly connect research and practice. I have long been an admirer of C-SED’s mission and their emphasis on research-informed education and practice and am really excited to contribute to these efforts! 

Describe your role: 

In my role as “Research and Faculty Engagement Manager” at C-SED I coordinate research work on a number of projects related to faculty and students’ experiences teaching and learning socially engaged engineering principles, the conditions that support expanding engineering practice to include a more careful consideration of people and the broader context in which we interact, and ways to measure the impact of and continue to improve upon socially engaged engineering training. I get to collaborate with some really great people on this work including graduate and undergraduate researchers, engineering and education faculty, and staff here in the College of Engineering and beyond. 

What can someone come to talk to you about (areas of passion/expertise)?

I love hearing about people’s stories and goals and helping think through strategies or resources for achieving these goals. In my role, I am hoping to learn more about people’s experiences teaching, learning, and practicing in engineering fields, what interests and motivates them, and their journeys through engineering and beyond. I am also always up to talk about educational research and methods or ways to get meaningful feedback on a particular program or course. Outside of work-topics, I am always happy to chat with folks about delicious recipes and restaurants, TV comedies, animal antics, or their favorite book recommendations.  

What do you hope to learn/have you learned in your role?

As someone without any engineering training, I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with and work alongside engineers and learn from their experiences. The wide range of conversations I get to have with engineers about their work – on everything from nanotechnology to climate justice to educational change – continues to amaze me! Having been primarily immersed in academic research in recent years, I am also learning so much from other C-SED staff about the strategies and work involved in putting knowledge into practice and how to connect meaningfully with a broader audience. 

Any unexpected parts of the job that surprised you?

I’m consistently surprised and delighted by the wide range of contexts C-SED’s materials and resources are used in – it is really exciting to see people across so many fields, positions, and industries find something they connect with in this work and their innovative ways of applying socially engaged engineering practices. 

 What is one project you really enjoyed working on?

One project I’ve really enjoyed working on so far is a study on the messages that engineering students receive in their core engineering courses about “what counts” as engineering work in their field and how this aligns with and shapes students’ engineering interests and career aspirations. I think many engineers are recognizing the need to do a better job of accounting for people and the broader context in their work and I hope this research can ultimately inform strategies for doing this more effectively. I think it’s important to seek out a deep understanding of current practices and structures and the needs and perspectives of those involved in any efforts to affect change so I appreciate this opportunity to do a “deep dive” in this context. Plus, I get to work with a great team on this project, including Drs. Shanna Daly, Lisa Lattuca, and Joi Mondisa and an expanding group of amazing graduate student researchers!

What do you like most about working at C-SED? 

I really appreciate the people that make up the C-SED community and the thoughtfulness and dedication they bring to the work. It is so great to connect with others who share a passion for socially-engaged engineering and supporting students, staff, faculty, and community partners in their various work. There’s such a great energy from the people here – I get a real sense that folks are supportive of and excited for the success of each other and the larger work of the Center.

How has your career path developed over time? 

Like many folks in C-SED, my career path has been a circuitous one. I’ve always been interested in understanding and fostering the well-being of people and our larger society and studied psychology and sociology in college. I considered pursuing graduate study at the intersection of these two fields but ultimately wanted to be in a more applied space and decided to come to U-M to study/work in the field of higher education. I had a job in what is now the C.A.R.E. Center in the College of Engineering for several years supporting students facing academic or personal challenges while also working part-time on a research project related to the experiences of engineering doctoral students. Those work experiences left me with an interest in better understanding and supporting the educational experiences of engineers and I decided to pursue a PhD and conduct research related to engineering education. I really enjoy both teaching and research and once again found myself looking to ways I might connect these with more applied work in the field. Though I couldn’t have told you at the start of my career journey where I would be, the work I get to do at C-SED combines so many of the things I am excited about! 

Name a social justice topic you are passionate about and why.

It’s hard to narrow it down! Generally speaking, I feel strongly about the importance of people having the safety, resources, options, and support they need to live their lives fully, healthily, and without harassment. So many of the challenges that face our society today – environmental destruction, inequitable distribution of and access to resources, identity-based discrimination, lack of access to healthcare, and more – are deeply intertwined. I read a nice analogy once that likened the many challenges we face as a society to a woven blanket and that pulling at any given corner could help to unravel the larger structure. I think part of my interest in education and appreciation for the work done by C-SED is that I see giving people the tools to learn about, critically analyze, and reflect on our society and their own position and potential for influence within it as a crucial first step in working towards a better world. 

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