Skip navigation

ENE Memo: April 25, 2016

From the Head: 04/25/2016

Getting the most out of your team 

Recently Karl Smith drew my attention to an interesting study at Google on what makes for a successful team.

After studying more than 180 teams they concluded that “who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions”. The five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from other teams at Google were:

  1. Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
  2. Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
  3. Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
  4. Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
  5. Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?

Of these five dynamics, psychological safety was far and away the most important; indeed it underpinned the other four.

Amy Edmonson explores sometimes paradoxical idea of psychological safety. She suggests three strategies for building psychological safety.

  • Frame the work as a learning problem, not an execution problem – given enormous uncertainty and enormous interdependence ahead
  • Acknowledge your own fallibility – creates more safety for speaking up
  • Model curiosity – ask a lot of questions

Being psychologically safe, open to admitting our fallibility, does not free us up from being accountable or limit a team from being high performing. If there is low accountability but high psychological safety the team is in a comfort zone and will likely not be high performing. On the other hand, if there are high levels of accountability but low psychological safety there will considerable anxiety because people are afraid to ask lest they feel foolish. Under these circumstances there is a higher probability of unanticipated failures. 

The sweet spot for team performance occurs where both psychological safety and accountability are high. This is a "learning zone" that produces the best overall outcomes. 


Kudos: 04/25/2016

... to Cole Joslyn on passing his preliminary examination.

... to Nichole Ramirez for being award the Bilsland Dissertation Award for the 2016-17 academic year.

... to Allison Godwin, Geoff Potvin (FIU), Zahara Hazari (FIU), and Robynne Lock (Texas A&M – Commerce) for their recent publication in the April issue of JEE titled Identity, Critical Agency, and Engineering: An Affective Model for Predicting Engineering as a Career Choice.

... to Corey Mathis has taken a tenure-track position at California State University Bakersfield. She will be an assistant professor of secondary education and will start in August. 

... to Lee Rynearson on successfully defending his dissertation entitled Promoting Teaming Metacognition

... to Kelsey Rogers on successfully defending her dissertation entitled Development of First-Year Engineering Teams’ Mathematical Models Through Linked Modeling and Simulation Projects

Calendar: 04/25/2016

Spring 2016

  • April 27: Purdue Day of Giving
  • April 28: ENE Seminar: 590 Presentations, ARMS BO71, 3:30 – 4:30pm
  • April 29: ENE Friday Noon-Thirty Lunch, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, WANG Kitchen
  • April 30: Classes end
  • May 5: Faculty Meeting, 9:30 – 11:20 am, WANG 3501
  • May 10: Grades Due
  • May 11/12: ENE Strategic Advance
  • May 13: Engineering Commencement, 8pm, Elliot Hall of Music
  • May 25: Spring Fling, 11:30am – 4pm, Memorial Mall

Summer 2016

  • June 26-29: ASEE 2016, New Orleans
  • Aug 11-13: 3rd P-12 Engineering and Design Education Research Summit, Chicago

Fall 2016

  • Aug 14: End-of-Summer Potluck, 5 – 8pm, Happy Hollow Park
  • Aug 15: Faculty return
  • Aug 17: ENE Advance (TBD)
  • Aug 22: Classes begin

Funding Opportunities: 04/25/2016

Selected Funding Opportunities:

NSF Dear Colleague Letter: Improving Graduate Student Preparedness for Entering the Workforce, Opportunities for Supplemental Support Supplemental funding is available in FY16 and FY17 to support science and engineering doctoral students so that they can acquire the knowledge, experience, and skills needed for highly productive careers, inside and outside of academe. This Dear Colleague Letter describes a variety of opportunities across the Foundation designed to explore approaches that will position NSF-funded graduate students for success in the 21st century STEM workforce. Opportunities and deadlines vary by directorate.

NIH Career Development Awards:

NIH Growing Great Ideas: Research Education Course in Product Development and Entrepreneurship for Life Science Researchers (R25) This FOA solicits applications to develop and implement research education programs/short courses in entrepreneurship, innovation and product development specifically targeting bench life scientists. The institution proposing the course must be a research-intensive institution that has an established and well-recognized entrepreneurship teaching program with the demonstrated ability and willingness to adapt/develop and deliver the integrated curriculum for the academic life scientists, including scientists working in the field of drug abuse and addiction research. Deadline: July 20

DOD-AFOSR Awards to Stimulate and Support Undergraduate Research Experiences (ASSURE) The ASSURE program aims to provide valuable research opportunities for undergraduates, either through ongoing research programs or through projects specially designed for this purpose. Research projects should allow high quality interaction of students with faculty and/or other research mentors and access to appropriate facilities and professional development opportunities. DoD executes the ASSURE program collaboratively with the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites Program.  There is no separate application for the ASSURE program; ASSURE funding is awarded through the NSF REU Sites Program. Deadline: August 24

DOE Machine Learning and Understanding for High Performance Computing Scientific Discovery DOE invites proposals for basic research that significantly advances Machine Learning and Understanding for High Performance Computing Scientific Discovery in the context of emerging algorithms and software for extreme scale computing platforms and next generation networks. Pre-application due May 20; Application due June 21. 

USDA-NIFA Youth Farm Safety Education and Certification (YFSEC) Program NIFA requests applications for FY16 to support national efforts to deliver timely, pertinent, and appropriate farm safety education to youth seeking employment or already employed in agricultural production. Deadline: June 20

NASA Sea Level Change Science Team This program is intended to integrate research results, data sets, and model output to improve the accuracy and spatial resolution of sea level change estimates, and communicate these results in a simplified manner to the scientific community and the general public. Notice of Intent due October 14; Proposal due November 15.

DOS Partnership on Women’s Entrepreneurship in Renewables (wPOWER) wPOWER is unlocking women’s potential to address climate change by empowering women clean energy entrepreneurs to expand clean energy access for poor and rural communities through the sale of solar products and clean cook stoves. Deadline: June 10

HHMI Professors Program  The HHMI Professors Program aims to empower science faculty members who will apply the creativity and experimental rigor that make them accomplished research scientists to address compelling challenges in science education. To be eligible an applicant will be: 1) a full-time tenured faculty member of a baccalaureate degree-granting natural science department (biological/life sciences, chemistry/biochemistry, physics, earth/geosciences, astronomy); 2) a significant contributor to undergraduate education in their home department; and 3) an accomplished research scientist as evidenced by being principal investigator on at least one peer-reviewed research award. Intent to Apply due July 1; Invited applications due October 6.

Limited Submissions:

Preproposals and rankings to the EVPRP should be e-mailed to Purdue’s open limited submission competitions, limited submission policy, and templates for preproposals may be found at For any case in which the number of preproposals received is no more than the number of proposals allowed by the sponsor, the EVPRP will notify the PI(s) that an internal competition will be unnecessary.

Anticipated Funding Opportunities:

These solicitations are anticipated to be released soon based on the timing of previous solicitations for the program or notices of intent to publish. We are posting this information to help with proposal planning efforts but please keep in mind that the release dates and/or scope of a solicitation can change from year-to-year so be sure to read the solicitation carefully once it is released.

EDA to Release Regional Innovation Strategies Program (RIS) EDA plans to release the Federal Funding Opportunity and begin accepting applications for the 2016 round of Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program funding on April 25, 2016; the application period will be open for 60 days. EDA will host a series of webinars April 19 – 21 to discuss the opportunity.

As always, we appreciate your sharing this information with your faculty. Please contact Sue Grimes (, Kristyn Jewell (, or Perry Kirkham ( with any questions.

To suggest content for future issues of ENE Memo, contact Teresa Morris or David Radcliffe by midday Friday for the following week's issue.