Euridice Oware, PhD 2008

Euridice Oware

Euridice Oware earned her BS in civil engineering from Washington University and her MS in civil engineering from Purdue University. After completing Purdue's PhD program in engineering education, where she conducted research examining children's perceptions of engineers, Euridice joined the Museum of Science in Boston. She spoke with Deepali Pratap about her experience in Purdue's School of Engineering Education.




Why did you decide to do a PhD?

I wanted to earn a PhD to further my education and to study an interesting topic in depth. I learned that the PhD program in the School of Engineering Education [ENE] was beginning while I was already a civil engineering graduate student at Purdue. I still recall reading the announcement about the formation of the ENE program, and I was so excited because I realized that this program was one through which I could contribute to the education of different types of learners. One of my biggest goals had always been to use my knowledge of civil engineering to educate students—even very young students. I already had a master's and bachelor's in civil engineering, and the PhD program in engineering education would provide me with a foundation in education and educational research. 

What about the program really caught your attention?

I was impressed with the faculty in the program and their expertise and dedication to this new graduate program. They were very concerned about the needs of engineering students and were enthusiastic about mentoring graduate students in the program. I had never seen anything like this graduate program before: in particular the focus on learning more about how engineering students learn and how to better educate people about engineering was fascinating. Also, the opportunity to learn how to conduct educational research caught my eye. Personally, I felt like it was a perfect fit for me because of the focus on engineering and my interest in working with young students and their teachers.


What are you doing now?
I am the Professional Development Partnership Director for the "Engineering is Elementary " [EiE] program at the Museum of Science in Boston. EiE has a curriculum and offers professional development for elementary school teachers to integrate engineering and technology into their science lessons. I am currently managing a partnership program between "Engineering is Elementary" and several institutions around the country. I also conduct research on the impact of the curriculum on EiE students and teachers and on children's ideas about different science topics. 
How did you direct your job search?

Well, I initially had no idea where to start for a job in ENE. So, I started talking to various people—I spoke to professors and other staff at Purdue, people I had met at conferences, ENE advisory board members, and people at different institutions. They gave me great advice about a job search and also often the names of other people to contact. I also looked online for job postings and used conferences to meet people. By looking through conference proceedings ahead of time, contacting presenters, and meeting them at the conference, I could use my time at the conference well. The year before I graduated, I attended the ASEE conference in the summer, and that was the most useful event in my search for a job.

Also, I recommend letting faculty and other people know that you are looking for a job. They might be able to connect you with their colleagues via email or even introduce you to people in person at conferences. I also took the "Preparing Future Faculty" course offered by the graduate school, and it was a beneficial class because we compiled several application documents such as a CV and personal statements. 

What was the most challenging thing about your PhD?

Definitely, time management. When I was taking classes, managing coursework along with research and teaching responsibilities was challenging. In the early stages of my program, balancing my personal life with my Purdue responsibilities was also tricky. When I got to the stage where I was only working on my dissertation, I started facing writer’s block, and sometimes keeping myself on schedule was hard. So during the dissertation process, I met with friends to write and spoke to students who had already graduated for advice on time management while I was writing my dissertation.


What advice do you have for incoming students?

Talk to other students to learn from them, to get a sense of what the professors might be like, and to find a good fit for yourself. Note that everyone’s experience is going to be different, but learn from others as much as you can. Also, while going through your program, collaborate with other students, faculty, and others. It helps to know people who can support you and who you can support. Meet people wherever you can, in the department, outside the program, at conferences, etc. Also, most importantly, have as fun as much as you can, and live a balanced life—it makes the PhD more manageable.