INSPIRE names new director

Professor Monica Cardella, who has served as the director of Informal Learning Environments Research at INSPIRE, will assume the role of director of the institute.

“Dr. Cardella brings a unique set of skills and experiences to this role combined with a breadth of knowledge of INSPIRE, as a member of this team over the past seven years,” said David Radcliffe, Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education.

“I look forward to an exciting future for the research we do through INSPIRE in pre-college engineering. There are enormous opportunities for this team to make field defining contributions in an area of engineering education that is very much in the national spotlight, at the center of the debate around STEM education.”

INSPIRE was created with a five year grant from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation in 2006. Funding for the Institute’s nearly three dozen staff, graduate and undergraduate students is now secured through research grants and support from other foundations. Along with Cardella, INSPIRE involves the work of five other engineering education faculty members.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to build on the history of preeminence in pre-college engineering education research established by everyone who has contributed to INSPIRE over the past 8 years,” Cardella said, “and to be able to facilitate this new phase as we move into new spaces – both physical and intellectual – with new team members.”

INSPIRE’s lab and office space is now housed in several campus buildings. With the opening of Seng-Liang Wang Hall later this year, the Institute will bring all of its operations under one roof.

Cardella notes the end result of INSPIRE’s research is to inspire more students to pursue engineering and science, which is best done by forming partnerships.

“We are particularly excited to explore the opportunities to make connections between learning in formal and informal environments, both through the research we do as well as the work we do to connect schools, parents, informal learning settings and Purdue University, and to make connections between engineering and science, math and literacy,” she said.

Cardella received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Puget Sound, and a master’s degree and doctorate in industrial engineering from the University of Washington. She is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education, the American Educational Research Association, the International Society of the Learning Sciences, the Visitor Studies Association and Alpha Pi Mu, the industrial engineering honor society.