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.

ECE Broadening Participation Plan

The departmental Broadening Participation Plan provides context, including current demographics, and 5-year goals, activities and metrics. The BP Plan is intended to leverage individual interests and activities by providing a framework for faculty, staff, students and alumni to participate in programs within the School and with partner organizations within the College. The goals, activities and metrics address recruitment, retention and climate for undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty/academic staff. The means for measuring outcomes are also described.

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 perceive 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.


Also at Purdue


Inclusion, Diversity, Equity Advancement and Leadership Committee for the College of Engineering

Latino Cultural Center

The Purdue University Latino Cultural Center creates an inclusive environment for the entire campus community, fostering meaningful dialogue and cultural understanding of Latinx communities.

Minority Engineering Program

The Minority Engineering Program at Purdue University was initiated in 1974 as one of several initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion in the College of Engineering, Purdue's Minority Engineering Program is committed to engineering research and knowledge sharing with the international community through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.

National Society of Black Engineers

We are the Purdue Chapter, formally known as the “Mother Chapter”, of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). As a student-managed and non-profit STEM organization, our primary mission is to “increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community."

Purdue Division of Diversity and Inclusion

In line with Purdue University’s mission as a public, state-supported land-grant institution with global impact is a demonstrated commitment to furthering the goals of diversity and inclusion.

Women in Engineering

Purdue University's Women in Engineering (WiE) Program helps women and girls discover their inner engineer. From mentoring to career development, WiE continually encourages current and future women engineering students by providing interesting and engaging programming relevant to their lives.

About Us

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

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.

Current Initiatives

  • TA training: This mandatory training is the first of its kind in the entire College of Engineering.
  • ECE Broadening participation plan: This is the first-ever plan developed in the Elmore Family School of ECE, which is the largest in the University. Further, this is the first time that quantitative success metrics have been used to set School-wide goals.
  • Faculty interviews: For the first time, every candidate at all levels and positions (including lecturers) was interviewed to provide actionable feedback to the Head to ensure future faculty contribute to a diverse, inclusive community and climate where all individuals at Purdue can thrive.
  • DEI Discussion Group: The discussion group provides a forum for faculty and staff to discuss current D&I; topics related to academic or industry topics of relevance to ECE. The group meets monthly during the AY and generally utilizes an article or video as a discussion-starter.
  • FYE to ECE Bridge Program: We are developing a bridge program for students transitioning from First-Year Engineering (FYE) to ECE. The goal is to improve the retention, climate and success of students entering ECE. Specific focuses include technical preparation, real-world examples and community building.
Carla Zoltowski

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

David Janes


David Janes is a professor in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research interests include nanoscale electronic devices, molecular/semiconductor devices, microwave devices and characterization.

Brooke Parks

Brooke Parks


Brooke Parks is a Senior Lecturer in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. She earned her BA from DePauw University, her MFA from The University of Alabama, and taught college-level English for twelve years. Since joining Purdue ECE in 2015, she’s been teaching her incredible students to be effective and empathetic in their communication by emphasizing the importance of writing and presentation skills, teamwork/leadership, diversity/inclusion, and ethics in academia and industry through specialized undergraduate and graduate communication courses that offer hands-on practice.

Philip Pare

Philip E. Paré


Philip E. Paré is an Assistant Professor in the Elmore Family 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.

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