PIECE: Project for Inclusion in ECE

PIECE: Project for Inclusion in ECE

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) as a discipline struggles to recruit and retain women and underrepresented minorities. Diversity and inclusion in ECE is a complex problem with many contributing factors, and the solutions are not often straightforward. The puzzle has many pieces: students, faculty and staff interact with department culture, policy and curriculum, all of which affect the diversity and inclusion of our department. We believe this puzzle requires an equally multifaceted approach. We assemble viewpoints from people across ECE to tailor solutions for our community. Please take a look at our committee and our project description for more information.

Inclusive Teaching Strategies for ECE Faculty

ECE faculty serve as formal and informal mentors, and role models for students, so student-faculty interactions can make a big difference in how students percieve the inclusivity of the department. As faculty, you can make a difference in diversity and inclusion by incorporating inclusive ideas into what you already do every day.

Based on ECE student interviews and research on inclusive teaching in engineering, we've compiled a tip sheet for ECE faculty with simple ideas to get started with inclusive teaching.


ECE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Our committee brings together stakeholders from across the ECE community to identify and design solutions for problems of diversity, equity and inclusion in our department. Faculty, staff and students of all levels are invited to share their experiences and ideas. We value your perspective. Please join us at a meeting!

Current Initiatives

  • TA training on diversity
  • Undergraduate professional development seminar sequence
  • Integrating design into ECE curriculum

Meeting Info

Next meeting: TBA

For questions, please email Carla Zoltowski.

Also at Purdue

About Us

This work is funded by NSF grant #1636446: Understanding the Professional Formation of Engineers through the Lens of Design Thinking: Unpacking the Problem of Diversity and Inclusion. It is part of the NSF's Research in the Formation of Engineers program.

This project acknowledges three interrelated problems currently recognized in the professional formation of engineers: the gap between school experiences and practice, the perception of engineering as solely technical, and the lack of diversity and inclusion in engineering. We assert that these are not separate problems, but are in fact linked and deeply connected to engineering culture, curriculum and practice. They cannot be fixed individually, but require a processual, contextual and integrative approach.

Therefore, we approach these problems with design thinking by partnering with the ECE community to identify problems and design solutions within the unique context of ECE, and with our community's specific needs in mind. The iterative nature of design allows us to adapt our approach as we learn more about how these complex problems manifest in ECE.

figure of nsf grant

Carla Zoltowski


Carla B. Zoltowski is an assistant professor of engineering practice in the Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Education, and Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program within the College of Engineering at Purdue. Prior to her appointment in ECE, Dr. Zoltowski was Co-Director of the EPICS Program. She holds a B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue. Her research interests include the professional formation of engineers, diversity, inclusion, and equity in engineering, human-centered design, engineering ethics, and leadership.

Carla Zoltowski
Patrice Buzzanell

Patrice Buzzanell


Patrice M. Buzzanell, Ph.D., is Chair and Professor of the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida. A Fellow of the International Communication Association (ICA), she has served as President of ICA, the Council of Communication Associations (CCA), and the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG). She is a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association (NCA), Velux Fonden Faculty Research Fellow at Copenhagen Business School, Endowed Visiting Professor of the School of Media and Design at Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Patrice is research faculty in ECE and courtesy faculty in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

Her NSF grants focus on engineering ethical development scales and processes as well as the everyday constitution of ethics in engineering design teams, and design thinking to engage in diversity and inclusion, socio-technical intersections, and formation of engineering professionals.

She received ICA’s B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award and the Provost Outstanding Mentor Award at Purdue, where she was University Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair and Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence.

Andrew Brightman


Andrew O. Brightman serves as Assistant Head for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Engineering Practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. His research background is in cellular biochemistry, tissue engineering, and engineering ethics. He is committed to developing effective pedagogies for ethical reasoning and engineering design and for increasing the diversity and inclusion of engineering education.

Andrew Brightman
Philip Pare

Philip E. Paré


Philip E. Paré is an Assistant Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018, after which he went to KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden to be a Post-Doctoral Scholar from 2019-2020. He received his B.S. in Mathematics with University Honors and his M.S. in Computer Science from Brigham Young University in 2012 and 2014, respectively. His research focuses on networked control systems, namely modeling, analysis, and control of virus spread over networks. He is interested in making higher education more inclusive and diverse by creating a more welcoming environment and creating more pathways for underrepresented students. He has been selected for the Societal Impact Fellows Program here at Purdue for Fall 2021.

Memoria Matters


Memoria is a PhD student in Engineering Education and a Master's student in ECE at Purdue. She obtained her BSE in Computer Engineering and Japanese from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interest is in improving the inclusivity of engineering higher education through teaching methods, policies, and culture change.

Memoria Matters
community members

ECE Community Members (You?)

Our work depends on the passionate members of the ECE community who come to our meetings to share their ideas. We are very grateful for your participation.


Research publications resulting from our work with ECE include:

  • Eddington, S., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Brightman, A. O., & Corple, D., & Buzzanell, P. M. (2019, June), Tensions in Applying a Design-Thinking Approach to Address Barriers to Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in a Large, Legacy Engineering Program. Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33362
  • Eddington, S. M., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Brightman, A. O., & Joshi, R., & Buzzanell, P. M., & Torres, D. (2018, June), Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering: Students’ Perceptions of Learning and Engaging with Difference. Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30340