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Allison Godwin appointed associate director of Cornell NanoScale Facility

Allison Godwin, an expert in engineering education and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering in Cornell Engineering, has been appointed associate director of the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF), effective Jan. 3, 2024.

Godwin will oversee CNF’s education and workforce development programs.

“Allison’s role at CNF is an application of her research and draws on her accomplishments and institutional leadership in workforce development and supporting diversity in engineering,” said Judy Cha, Ph.D. ’09, the Lester B. Knight Director of CNF and professor of materials science and engineering. “CNF is renowned for research excellence in nanoscience and technology. We are now positioning ourselves to become a thought leader in education and workforce development.”

Allison Godwin

“It’s an exciting and pivotal time for engineering education. As one example, the CHIPS and Science Act has created a lot of energy around workforce development for semiconductor research and manufacturing in the United States,” Godwin said, referring to 2022 federal legislation to increase the competitiveness of the microchip industry in the United States. “Cornell and CNF are taking a leading role in this effort, as exemplified by our part in the NORDTECH regional Microelectronics Commons hub. With this massive infusion of funding comes a responsibility to think strategically about how we recruit and train engineers and the larger workforce needed. CNF has a major role to play as we move forward.”

Godwin previously served as director for engineering workforce development for the Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources (CISTAR), a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (NSF ERC) at Purdue University, where she was an associate professor of engineering education and chemical engineering. Godwin also served on a team to develop a standardized assessment of engineering workforce development programs across all NSF ERCs. She joined the Cornell faculty in January 2023.

Godwin’s research focuses on engineering student identity development and practices and policies that support inclusive engineering education.

“I think about how a student’s understanding of who they are as a person interacts with educational experiences to shape career choices and outcomes,” Godwin said. “Student identity development matters for almost every educational outcome we care about: retention, persistence on difficult tasks, academic success, well-being and career satisfaction. It matters for motivation to pursue engineering career pathways and smaller-scale efforts like motivation to do homework. These essential outcomes drive the types of questions I ask in my research.”

Education and outreach are an established part CNF’s mission, with programs for college and K-12 students throughout the year.

“Nationally, opportunities to engage in engineering prior to college aren't equal,” Godwin said. “And even when a student gets to college, often the experiences are not equal. That says to me that workforce development is an equity issue. Being located in Ithaca, at Cornell and now part of the NORDTECH Microelectronics Commons hub, CNF is uniquely positioned to have real impact, particularly among populations such as first-generation students, students from rural communities, veterans and others who have been underrepresented in the engineering workforce in upstate New York and nationally.”

Godwin’s appointment at CNF complements her work as part of a growing cohort of Cornell Engineering faculty whose research scholarship focuses on engineering education.

“We hear quite a lot these days about the promise that modern universities offer for workforce development and for up-skilling nontraditional students for new jobs in advanced manufacturing, including in the semiconductor and microchip manufacturing sectors. Yet, few traditionally trained faculty actually know how to develop the pedagogies and practices to deliver on these promises. Allison is exceptionally well prepared to teach all of us how to fill this gap,” said Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering and the James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor in Engineering.

With the announcement of Godwin’s three-year appointment, Cha thanked CNF’s previous associate director, Claudia Fischbach, the Stanley Bryer 1946 Professor of Biomedical Engineering. “The value of our facilities for life sciences research wasn’t always widely recognized. Claudia helped build our connections, particularly with biomedical researchers. She significantly expanded the profile of users that CNF serves,” Cha said.

J. Edward Anthony is a writer for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation.

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