Trustees Approve Designated Professorship for ENE's David Radcliffe

Author: Lisa Tally
Purdue’s Board of Trustees approved the appointment of David Radcliffe as the Epistemology Professor of Engineering Education.


Prof. Radcliffe's ratification response to the Board of Trustees

Good morning. I wish to thank the Board of Trustees for this honor. I am humbled.

As a new arrival in this country, I wish to recognize the traditional custodians of this land on which we meet the Miami nation, the Wea, the Eel River tribe and the Potawamoi. In Australia, where I am from, it is customary to acknowledge our Aboriginal people in this way.

I also acknowledge the rich legacy of engineering education at Purdue. In particular I want to recognize the imagination and leadership in creating the Dept. of Engineering Education; a world’s first and the reason I am here.

I have always striven to use my engineering education to make a difference in the world; hence my decision to study biomedical engineering for my doctorate. I have never followed the conventional path but always taken risks in exploring new directions. I am something of a boundary agent; working with colleagues from the social sciences, humanities and performing arts to enlarge engineering.

I want to thank my wife, Vicki, who has shared this interesting journey with me since graduate school in Scotland some 30 years ago.

Epistemology Professor of Engineering Education is quite a mouthful. The words reflect my longstanding passion for exploring the philosophical foundations on which engineering and engineering education are built.

The grand challenges facing us – both nationally and globally – will require engineering to be much more inclusive; more open to other ways of knowing and to other disciplinary understandings – other epistemologies.

To mark this occasion, I had this hand-painted boomerang made. It embodies traditional knowledge that preceded our scientific understanding of aerodynamics.

It symbolizes engineering epistemology; the diverse history of engineering ideas and knowledge and how these manifest in technology.

It also symbolizes my sense of returning home to Purdue - the cradle of the astronauts. Space flight was a childhood passion that contributed to my becoming an engineer. My dream of becoming an astronaut was not realized; however I am proud to work in the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering!

I conclude with the words of the poet Robert Frost; Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference

Again I thank the Board for this honor.