Colombia Purdue Initiative — CPI

Four Weeks in the Colombian Andes: a Fulbright Specialist’s Story


In July, Purdue Professor of Engineering Education, Heidi Diefes-Dux, traveled for the second time to Ibagué, the capital city of Colombia’s Tolima department well-known for its conservatory of music. Her mission, however, was not to make music, but to make great teachers at Universidad de Ibagué (Unibagué).

Invited by Manuel Guillermo Forero Vargas, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Unibagué, Heidi traveled to Ibague in 2015 to deliver two one-day workshops, learn about the university, and collaboratively develop a proposal to submit to Fulbright Colombia.  The university’s proposal was accepted enabling her to return this year as a Fulbright Specialist to teach two classes – one on assessment in university classrooms and the other on active learning in university classrooms.

Universidad de Ibagué is a young, private institution founded in 1980 by Tolima business and civic leaders with a focus on educational access for the changing population of Ibague and learners of all ages, social responsibility, and regional development.  Heidi’s project supports this commitment to education and community.  Her goal was to strengthen lecturers’ skill and understanding of contemporary teaching and learning theories and enable them to adopt and implement student-centered learning strategies.

Workshops on topics such as cognitive development and learning theories, active learning strategies, student team formation and maintenance, and backward course design to align learning objectives, activities, and assessments along with one-on-one coaching deepened participant learning and Professor Diefes-Dux’ fondness for Unibagué. 

If all goes as desired, Dr. Diefes-Dux will return for a third summer of teaching, learning, collaborating, and friend-making


From left to right: Manuel Guillermo Forero, Dean of Engineering, Carlos Andrés González, Director of Computer Engineering, Heidi Diefes-Dux, Purdue Professor of Engineering Education, Oscar Javier Araque, professor of Mechanical Engineering, Andrés Alberto García, professor of Industrial Engineering, William Londoño, Vice Dean of Engineering, and Carlos Julio Moya, Director of Mechanical Engineering.


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