Job Postings – January 2022

Digital Content Manager
University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering
Application deadline: Open until filled

Digital Planning and Analytics Specialist
Penn State, College of Engineering
Application deadline: Rolling

Assistant/Associate Teaching Professor
Miami University, College of Engineering and Computing, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Job Number: 499520

Associate/Full Professor – Director, Center for Cyber Security
Miami University, Engineering & Computing College
Job Number: 499261

Science & News Writer
University of California, Berkeley, College of Engineering
Application deadline: Open until filled

Q&A with Mary McCall

Mary McCall
Mary McCall

Name: Mary Reilly McCall

Institution: University of Detroit Mercy

Position: Adjunct instructor in Engineering and English – Technical Writing instructor in Mechanical Engineering

What do you do for fun? Read (mysteries, detective stories, historical fiction, current events). My favorite series is the Aubrey/Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian. And I’ve been putting together a specialized presentation for a relative who is homeschooling her children. To date, we’ve covered poetry (for Poetry Week in 2020 and then The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – because who doesn’t like old-time monuments?). Right now I am working on a co-presentation on Modern China with my daughter and it’s been a lot of fun.

What is your favorite thing about working in engineering? My mechanical engineering colleagues are the best: kind, helpful and smart. They made me feel very welcome and valued despite my lack of engineering credentials.

Something really cool happening in engineering at your school? I’ve been working with my colleagues in mechanical engineering to develop the Embedded Technical Writing program. It starts with first year students in their very first semester and continues through their third year.

So far we’ve embedded into five classes, so there is sustained exposure to technical writing concepts and projects. We have expanded to include another technical writing instructor to cover the course load which underlines the commitment this department has to the program. We’re getting ready to formally assess the impact on students and, to some extent, their employers (via co-op feedback).

What is the most challenging part of your job? Keeping up is an issue. I typically teach four writing classes each semester, which means lots of class prep, emails and papers to read. The pandemic added much more follow-up, grace periods and repeated communication with students, something I’m sure most of you have experienced. I’m looking at this as a learning opportunity in human interaction and use of technology.

Project or achievement in your current position that you are most proud of? When I taught Technical Writing in the past, I knew my students for 15 weeks. Now I greet them as first years and see them through graduation four years later. It’s so revealing and rewarding to watch them develop over the course of their college life.

Remote work and not getting blasted out of a cannon

Nate Jorgensen portrait
Nate Jorgensen

Homer Simpson once said, “Trying is the first step toward failure.” 

Like most Simpsons references, it is funny because it is true. Now, I am not pushing for completely not trying. But, maybe I am advocating for not forcing things, especially right now.

At our last in-person conference, which was 10 years ago in 2019, I gave a presentation on becoming an interim director and how I had no idea what I was doing. Bad news and good news were on the horizon. 

The bad news? A global pandemic that I will not joke about. 

The good news? Now no one knows what they are doing. And I will joke about that.

Directors with 30 years of experience did not know how to quickly go completely remote, run an office over Skype (remember Skype?), or communicate all of this to faculty and students – all at different points on the adaptability continuum.

So, that meant the field was leveled. It still is.

The only things I am sure about are that I still don’t know what I’m doing and that now no one else does either.

For example, we received three different “official” messages on employees returning to campus in June of 2021. One told us to return 100 percent immediately. One said let’s ease into it. One said anything goes.

What I learned in that process was to make my own decision. Take responsibility. Take credit. Accept the consequences.

Asking question after clarifying question would guarantee nothing, as no single source had the singular correct answer, and certainly not an answer before my deadline of communication.

I’m not sure if this makes sense or if it is relatable to any other university, but in all of this mess I found my authentic voice as a higher-ed communicator. All of that fear of saying the wrong thing goes away when you’ve said the wrong thing dozens of times and not been fired or blasted out of a cannon. 

My therapist calls this exposure therapy.

So, now for the future. One cool thing is that we all experienced roughly the same thing for the past two years and learned mostly the same lessons. I don’t think things are changing back for marketing and communicators in higher ed. Remote/hybrid work is here to stay.

Now, I’ve seen my share of job postings. Hardly any relevant postings exist right now that do not practically guarantee at least a hybrid schedule and a significant amount allowed for fully remote setups. 

Hiring managers say they sometimes get zero (that’s zero) applicants for good positions that are not up with the remote/hybrid times. The ripple effect this alone will have will last for a long time.

As far as challenges, here is one: I honestly don’t know if my reports are always doing their work eight hours a day. I don’t. 

An article meets a deadline, a video is on YouTube quickly, and a website edit is done when it should be. That is the same as it was when we were sitting in our meetings and passing each other in the hallways. 

For all that I don’t know about their days, I have not felt uncomfortable about it. The uncertainty allows me to give myself, and my team, grace. Maybe after two or three years of fully on-campus semesters, full stadiums, full internship experiences, I will start to tighten up, but I am not betting on it. 

We are in a new world. That is for certain and there is no stopping it.

And like Kent Brockman said, I for one welcome our new insect overlords.

Fall ’21 Update from the Chair

Dear Engineering Communicators,

I will begin this newsletter with a heart full of thanksgiving. I even made a list! And good news – you’re on the list:

I am thankful for this division and you all who said “yes!” Finally, a professional home that makes sense for engineering communicators and has connected me with new friends and colleagues from all over the US.

I am thankful for our officers, who have dreamed big with me from the start and tolerate my rambles and tangents.

I am thankful for our book club discussing NAE’s “Changing the Conversation,” a core group who have become dear colleagues I can share ideas, ask tough questions, and cheer on in this tough career choice. I’m thankful they also dream big.

I am thankful for our annual conference and the sessions that I still reference on the weekly around here. Specifically, the mention of NAE’s “Changing the Conversation” that propelled us into a book discussion and now career trajectory as an “engineering communicator” instead of communicator-who-happens-to-work-in-a-school-of-engineering.

Zoom. Yes, I’m even thankful for Zoom for helping us stay connected for our annual conference, board meetings, book club discussions, and the tool I have utilized for the flexibility to remain at home for remote work.

Last but certainly not least, I speak on behalf of all to say we are ever so thankful for Nathan Kahl, who is the glue for this group and who had the vision to set forth on this journey. He is counted on by so many and just hope he knows he can count on us to do our part, communicating on behalf of our engineering faculty, students, and programs.

If you haven’t said “yes” to our division just yet, the virtual door is always open! If you aren’t sure, please check out the current list of members. To join, use the registration link and instructions on ASEE and remember to click “Engineering Communicators Division” during the process.  If you forget to click our division, you can always go back and add it later!

In this time of thanksgiving, I wish everyone a wonderful, peaceful, healthy(!) holiday season ahead.


Teresa Walker
Purdue University

First Bell Ad Tips

By Kristin Torun, Director, Advertising Sales, Bulletin Media, a Cision company

Know the company you keep. On a solemn note: 2020 -2021 was not only overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, but also by the misinformation surrounding it; we would be remiss not to acknowledge the professional credibility that is extended to those that advertise with First Bell, which has a reputation among the engineering community that precedes it. We take great pride in knowing that highly educated professionals rely on First Bell as a trusted source of news and information, especially during an anything-but-average year.

Embrace change and stay nimble. In response to COVID-19, a topic that remains ubiquitous in the news cycle, some of our Top Thirty advertisers pivoted from their usual approach to raise awareness of their department’s contributions during the pandemic. For example, one engineering school promoted a “build-it-yourself ventilator,” while another university showcased face shields designed by its engineers.

Fun fact: marketers across industry and trade shifted their strategies to adapt to such challenging and unprecedented times – to the extent that “pivot” was coined 2020’s marketing “word of the year.”

Put your best face forward. Speaking of faces, did you notice that 25 of the Top Thirty ads include an image of a person? That’s not a coincidence. We believe our readers are drawn to ads that feature someone they might recognize from their professional circle. Senior faculty members like presidents, deans, and chancellors are often thought leaders with substantial clout in the engineering space.

Don’t forget our tried-and-true ad design tips. 1) Avoid walls of text and be clear and concise with your messaging. 2) Be distinct with your headline, sub headline, and call-to-action to create contrast that provides a logical flow for the viewer’s eye. 3) Use real images that your target audience will find relatable. 4) Create a visual indication that your ad is clickable.


Q&A with UMaryland’s Chris Bender

Chris Bender headshot
Chris Bender


Chris Bender


University of Maryland, A. James Clark School of Engineering



Assistant Dean for Communications, and fortunate to work with a smart, creative and dedicated communications team.

What do you do for fun?

    • Spend time with my six-year-old boss, Zach, and my amazing wife, Melissa. Zach is CEO, Melissa is COO/CFO and I’m “other duties as assigned.”
    • Smoke meat and BBQ. I’m not Myron Mixon but have fun cooking for people, and experimenting with different woods, proteins, vegetables and seasonings. 
    • Spend time outdoors. I run, bike and swim but will pretty much participate in any outdoor activity. We’ve got a garden, for example, and play lots of cornhole (where I mostly lose). 
  • Be a UCLA basketball and San Diego Chargers fan. Yes, I said “San Diego” and, yes, it’s a soul-crushing enterprise, but I’m committed.

What is your favorite thing about working in engineering communications?

UMD’s engineers are in the business of helping people, and it’s a fun privilege to storytell about their work. If communications can deliver a narrative that turns people’s heads and exposes them to a better fire protection system, for example, and that exposure improves someone’s life, I’m inspired.

Something really cool currently happening in engineering at your school?

There’s a lot! Drones that smell. Wood that’s transparent. Quantum computing. I’m inspired by the student clubs and competition teams: Terps Racing build winning racecars. We’ve got another team that finished in the top four in the Boring Company’s Not-a-Boring Competition, which challenges students, companies and hobbyists to build a tunnel infrastructure necessary to enable fast, safe and comfortable transportation, including Loop and Hyperloop. It’s cool to be in an environment with that much innovation. We’re also having a dialogue about what we at UMD can do to promote more DEI in engineering.

What is the most challenging part of the job?

People often don’t see communications as a strategic function. That’s not specific to engineering: I’ve experienced it in the private and non-profit sector, too. It’s also partly that when we as communicators discuss our work, we can focus on tactics. It’s important we see ourselves, and our internal stakeholders see us, as strategists – that a Tweet, for example, is driving a larger goal – and we position our roles and work in that way.

Project or achievement in your current position that you are most proud of?

Our team is top-flight. Even with the pressures of the last year, it kept innovating – and credit goes to team members. The team found better ways to deliver targeted advertising, grow and engage our online audiences, delve deeper into DEI as it relates to engineering and more. I’m proud to work with and learn from our team.

Advice for someone just starting out in higher ed communications and marketing?

  • Ask lots of questions. Understand historical precedent: What’s been tried and/or not tried, and why.
  • Create and articulate a relationship between what you’d like to do and the college’s strategic plan. 
  • Network with people in your role at other colleges and universities. You get great advice when you get a diversity of advice.

Leadership: Ready or not

Carl Apple portrait photo
Carl Apple

By Carl Apple, Director of Communications, George R. Brown School of Engineering, Rice University

Transitioning into a leadership position can be tough. When I say that, I’m not just referring to the tasks and decisions of the job—sometimes first making the decision is the hardest part.

Whether you’re being asked to coach a little league team, lead a church group or run a committee at work, sometimes it can be harrowing to just say “hey, I’ll do it.” 

When I decided to leave the TV news business, I envisioned an entry-level gig. After all, I didn’t have any tangible experience in public relations and marketing. Was I in for a shock? I got a position leading communications for a relatively large, high profile nonprofit, representing a large chunk of the state.

Great news, right?

The problem is that I was so thrilled with landing the job, I never really processed what I was getting myself into. What the heck does “director of communications” actually mean? They won’t actually expect that I’ll know what I’m doing? 

One of my staff members asked me if my last office had windows. I told her, “Yes, there were a bunch of windows and they were always moving.” Get it? Because I was a TV reporter. Let’s move on.

Leading a staff; coordinating a campaign; organizing events; providing guidance in a crisis—I had a lot to learn. What the heck is a “calendar invite?” 

Many of you probably had the luxury to grow into your roles, but there was probably a moment when you had to dive in. I’m certainly not here to provide leadership coaching—there are people who have dedicated their careers to that. What I will say is that when you have an opportunity to step up, there’s usually a reason. Whether it’s the PTA or the School of Engineering, it’s usually because you’re needed and someone thinks you’re ready.

However, I would suggest asking yourself a few questions before jumping into management. 

  • Do you like solving problems? Actually, do you like solving other people’s problems?
  • Are you OK with giving up some control?
  • Are you able to, occasionally, fight for something on behalf of others?
  • Are you OK with delegating things (seriously, some people can’t do it)?
  • Can you let a little thing go so that you get a victory with the bigger thing?

I’m sure some of our other managers in higher ed could add to this list. Regardless, sometimes the best way to find out is to take advantage when the right opportunity comes along.

As for the job at that nonprofit? Things worked out pretty well. I did a lot of stupid things. I asked for a lot of help. But we did a lot of great work, too. And you know what? After that, my next leadership role wasn’t so scary.

Analyzing Web and Social

Kayla Green headshot
University of North Texas portrait of Kayla Green, Photographed on 10 February, 2017 in Denton, Texas. (Madison Gostkowski/UNT Photo)

by Kayla Green, M.Ed., Director of Marketing and Communications, College of Engineering, University of North Texas

One of the most common questions we get in marketing and communications is about metrics and how we go about collecting and analyzing them in an ever-evolving digital world. It can be a challenge keeping track of all the important metrics and knowing just what to do with them. It can be an even greater challenge deciding which to present to leadership, specifically when it comes to web and social. 

As marketing and communications folks, we know that the website is the most important marketing and recruitment tool we have in our toolkit. It’s our one-stop shop where prospective students can go to learn about our programs, find out our admissions requirements, and hit that magical “apply now” button. Because of this, we use Google Analytics at UNT Engineering for just about every interaction we have on our website. We track newsletters. We track social media. We track the comings and goings of our recurring and unique visitors. And we break it all down by internal and external users. And, thanks to Google’s synergistic development, we’ve interconnected Google Analytics with Google Ads. Having both synced makes our website and our ads stronger and perform better for our marketing and recruitment needs.  

When it comes to presenting web metrics to leadership, we tend to focus on unique visitors per month, geographic location, time spent on the site, and behavior to understand where our visitors came from and what pages they’re visiting the most. We also keep an eye on the email open rate and track the clicks via a unique sourcing code we’ve developed for our email links. For a deeper dive into newsletters, we use Constant Contact. Constant Contact, and other similar email platforms, provide metrics like click-through rate, bounce rate and number of unsubscribes, along with the open rate. 

As for social, we use our engagement rate to measure how we’re doing on our goals and then compare it to the higher ed benchmarks to see where we sit nationally among university social accounts. For a more accurate comparison among colleges of engineering, we use Sprout Social’s Reports to view our most common metrics (impressions, engagements and clicks) and to compare ourselves alongside our peers and aspirational peers. This tool gives us a better idea of what it is we’re doing in relation to our peers and how we could improve and provides stats like fan audience growth, publishing behavior and post breakdown.

Of course, as communications folks, we find all of the above information to be beneficial as we progress toward our goals. It’s a good set of metrics for our leadership to receive, but it’s also common that those we report to are far more interested in the other exciting numbers like likes, followers, and shares – and, if they’re on Twitter, their own retweets. We’ll often present these as percentage increases or decreases or in trend graphs so they’re easier for our leadership team to digest alongside our engagement rate and web analytics. 

Providing context will always be key, so we’ll often take all of these metrics – both from web and social – and tie them back to our college-wide goals and initiatives. If we had planned this year to focus more heavily on research, then we would pull that out as a specific measure and showcase how often our audience engaged with our research-specific content. If we planned to focus more on student engagement, then we would highlight that element accordingly. By focusing our efforts in this way, we’re able to further emphasize the impact marketing and communications has on the college and the community at large as well as provide a more comprehensive understanding of what marketing and communications is.

Member Q&A: Thuy T. Tran

Thuy Tran holding a trout.

Name: Thuy T. Tran
Institution: Oregon State University, College of Engineering
Position: Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

Thuy Tran headshot

What do you do for fun?

There’s nothing more peaceful and, at the same time, more thrilling than swinging flies for steelhead on Oregon’s famous Deschutes, Umpqua, and Rogue rivers or on the lesser-known Trask, Siletz, Alsea, and Nestucca rivers. Once in a while, you might find me chasing bonefish on the flats on Kauai, Oahu, or Christmas Island.

What is your favorite thing about working in engineering communications?

Engineering is an endless source of great stories, including fascinating research, inspiring resilience and achievements, and heartwarming spirit of giving.

Something really cool currently happening in engineering at your school?

We have just launched a graduate program in artificial intelligence as an interdisciplinary field of study.

What is the most challenging part of the job?

There’s never enough time to finish the work. But, instead of making my to-do list a source of frustration, I try to remind myself that with each completed task comes the opportunity to tackle even more challenging and (hopefully) interesting work.

Project or achievement in your current position that you are most proud of?

I am proud of “Engineering Out Loud,” a podcast that my team launched in 2016 that has continued to gain popularity (71,000+ downloads by all 50 states and 96 countries). This project truly captures the creativity, perseverance, and teamwork of our group. I am also thrilled with “Rooted in Community,” a short film in which six women speak about their experiences in academia: how they broke through barriers, made impacts through research, and are guiding the next generation of engineers.

Advice for someone just starting out in higher ed communications and marketing?

Newcomers to engineering communications and marketing have vast new knowledge to acquire and countless existing skills to refine. Creative storytelling, tech fluency, and effective collaboration are all critical. Most importantly: Commit yourself to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in your organization. You can start with internal learning opportunities already offered at your university. Also, carve out time to develop your leadership skills. It’s never too early. Leading While Green: How Emerging Leaders Can Ripen into Effective Leaders is an excellent place to begin.

Thuy Tran fishing

Thuy Tran fishing

Growing a Post-Pandemic MarComm Team

Angela Meluski headshot
Angela Meluski

Lessons from the Marvel Universe

During the shutdown, people took on all sorts of new hobbies. Knitting. Cooking. Puzzles. You name it, someone is now an expert. Well, in the Meluski household, we spent our time wisely. We watched every Marvel movie…in chronological order. Yep – all 23 of them. From Captain America: The First Avenger to Spiderman: Far From Home, I now know every detail about the MCU (that’s Marvel Cinematic Universe for you novices out there). I know, I know, you’re impressed. 

Ever wonder how the MCU just keeps getting bigger and bigger? More superheroes keep joining the party. Nick Fury doesn’t have a problem with resources when it comes to saving the world – despite the crazy amounts of damage they inflict on us non-superhuman folk. As a public relations and communications professional, I want to channel Nick Fury. I NEED to channel Nick Fury. I need…people power. 

If your universities and colleges were anything like mine (shameless plug for University of California, Riverside right here), you suffered some MCU-style damage this past year. As we start seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, our administrators (think Nick Fury’s of the world) are figuring out how to rebuild and prioritize those resources. How do I get more superheroes added to my team? How do the communications and marketing teams make the priority list? For the love of all that is holy, Nick Fury, I NEED MORE PEOPLE!! 

I’ve thought a lot about this (I know, it’s sad) and I’m willing to share what I’ve learned to spare you the 46+ hours of riveting television I experienced. Here are my top three take-aways to get communications superheroes on the priority list:

Take 1: Be the Fury. How does Nick Fury manage all these superheroes? I mean, he’s the one guy in charge of their superhuman egos (yeah, I’m lookin’ at you Rocket). Earth-bound, we’re dealing with some out-of-this-world egos of our own. Treating our colleagues like clients makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside – then they return the favor and advocate for us when we need it. Think, service with a smile. At the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering we have five departments and three programs (check out our all new Master’s in robotics!) and we treat each one like its own separate client. As a result, we have good relationships with all of them. That also means, they understand how much our tiny team can achieve, are grateful when we deliver, and are on our side demanding we get more resources to better help them. Help me, help you.

Take 2: Use your Endgame Time Heist. We have a chicken and egg situation here. The easiest way to prove I have more work than people is to take on more work, but now I’m drowning. If I don’t take on the work, I can’t show I have enough to add someone. Well geez, if only I had Tony Stark’s time-turning technology so I can achieve more with my second self. The truth is, we can achieve a balance and prove our point with facts. Just before the pandemic, I created a report for my dean that detailed the following: the number of communications people for similarly sized engineering colleges, a percentage breakdown of work distribution by unit (ex. 25 percent of time going toward departments), and a year-over-year comparison of how much cost savings our team had achieved by taking on more projects in-house. This little chitty-chitty-chat-chat led to us agreeing that 1) our team was smaller than most other teams (boo!); 2) we needed to shift away from busy work and re-focus on the tasks that really impact the college (yay!); and 3) we could pay for a whole new position from our cost savings (insert MIC DROP here). It’s actually too bad I didn’t have to time travel to get my dean on board. That would have been cool, amiright?

Take 3: Captain a ship like Shuri. Iron Man might have his suit but Black Panther’s sister Shuri has Kimoyo beads and literally walks Agent Ross through remotely piloting a Talon fighter. This gal knows her stuff – and you need to too. Know higher education like Shuri knows her tech and your leadership can’t deny your impact as part of the team. Each morning I spend 30-45 minutes combing through higher education headlines, taking note of which stories to send to college leadership, chairs, even professors when I find something about their research. This investment of time has paid off ten-fold. Not only do you increase your reputation by staying in the know, you arm yourself with best management practices, making your recommendations way more valuable. Maybe not vibranium-level valuable, but definitely earthy valuable, and that’s as good as gold.

I’m not going to lie. This year has been hard and a lot has changed. As we pivot back to in-person operations, I look forward to continuing to grow my team – and I know these tactics are working because we’re on the short list for a new position (keep an eye out for when we hire!). In the meantime, I’ll keep channeling my inner Fury, using my data-driven time heist, and harnessing my Shuri-level tech because I want to keep growing the team. I’ll do without the MCU-level damage though, that seems like a lot of paperwork. ☺ 

Angela Meluski
Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Marketing
University of California, Riverside (UCR)
Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering