CE Professor Selected for Fullbright Specialist Program

March 12, 2018

Civil Engineering Professor Dr. Robb Moss selected for Fullbright Specialist Program in Chile.

Dr. Robb Moss has been selected as a Fullbright Specialist for the next three years and will work with universities in Chile to develop curriculum and faculty education in engineering. Dr. Moss is a civil engineering professor specializing in geotechnical, earthquake and risk engineering. 

The Fulbright Specialist Program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning, and related subjects at academic institutions abroad. Dr. Moss’s proposal identified three main areas of engineering education:

– Soft skills - Ethics, technical communication, emotional intelligence, licensure, importance of continuing education

– Active learning techniques - Training for university professors on implementing a “Learn by Doing” approach

– Senior design capstone courses - Education on structuring senior design programs to achieve desired outcomes outlined by ABET (accreditation board for engineering and technology)

Dr. Moss will work with faculty and staff at universities throughout Chile to develop curriculum and programs that address the three areas. Over winter break, Dr. Moss worked with faculty at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez (UAI) in Santiago for two weeks. La Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile will be Dr. Moss’s next stop and lessons will continue for as long as the universities need. The Fullbright Specialist program is a three-year appointment that will run through 2020.

One of the main areas of Dr. Moss’s curriculum tackles the difficulty of teaching engineering ethics in ways that are engaging and meaningful for students. His curriculum uses Cal Poly’s capstone classes as models for effective engineering training. These courses give young professionals an ethical basis so that when faced with dilemmas they can respond accordingly. The program also stresses the importance of understanding the social implications of engineering.

“My goal for this program is to bring lessons learned from the Cal Poly capstone classes to other universities so students are able to ‘Learn by Doing’,” said Dr. Moss.

As part of the Fullbright award, Dr. Moss is required to bring learned experiences in Chile back to Cal Poly. Dr. Moss is hoping to have faculty and student exchanges in the next few years.

“As a college, we want to prepare engineers for a global workforce. Knowing how engineering works in other countries is good because a lot of our students will go to work for different organizations,” said Dr. Moss.

Dr. Moss has been working in Chile since 2010 doing research in earthquake engineering and owns a company that specializes in geotechnical engineering and earthquake-related testing. In February 2010, a magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck off the coast of Chile resulting in shaking and a tsunami, causing widespread damage on land and in coastal areas. Combined, the earthquake and tsunami were responsible for more than 500 deaths. Dr. Moss was called to do reconnaissance by the NSF-funded GEER (Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance) organization to collect perishable data after the earthquake.

Dr. Moss has been a professor in the Civil Engineering department since 2006 and has a PhD in geotechnical earthquake engineering from UC Berkeley. Dr. Moss will take a sabbatical next year to conduct research, write a second edition of his textbook, and complete papers.

Written by Ilianna Salas