ENE Memo: April 30, 2012

From the Head: 4/30

Are we there yet?

This has been a VERY long year! Everyone I meet across campus seems to feel the same way; everyone is ready for a break. Exams, grading and auditing are ahead, culminating in commencement ceremonies on May 11 for Multidisciplinary Engineering graduates and May 13 for PhDs. (Note the commencement for all graduate degrees is on a different day from that for engineering bachelor's degrees.)

As a pioneering department (school) in a new discipline, we have experienced and celebrated eight hectic years in a row. The relentless dynamic of creating, shaping and growing our programs has been hard, unrelenting work—exhilarating and important work but also exhausting. To evoke a metaphor that Kamyar often used: we are building the plane while we fly it. Many of us are feeling the cumulative strain of this sustained period of pushing the boundaries and the continuous leadership of change. Like being on a long road trip, the little voice in back keeps asking: Are we there yet?

But perhaps that is the wrong way to look at where we are. Maybe ENE really is a journey and not a destination; an idea in motion rather than an end point; a way of being rather than something we are doing or becoming. This frees us from a perpetual focus on seemingly endless change, a state that is very wearing and unsustainable. It moves us to a focus on being - which can be a source of energy and renewal. In one sense we will be in permanent beta mode, not in a way that wears us down, but rather in a way that energizes us - I we - and gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  

This changed perspective suggests several critical enabling conditions we need to pay close attention to: having a firm foundation and value-adding ways of working.  

One dimension of a firm foundation is deep knowledge of our history - where we came from and those who came before us - pioneering the pathway. Last week the College of Engineering Diversity Action Committee held the Inaugural Diversity Seminar, and our speaker was Dr. Arthur J. Bond (founder of NSBE) and his sister Allison (first female African-American graduate from EE). They gave a very moving, first-person account of the experience of being an African-American (engineering) student at Purdue in the 1950s, 60s and 70s - this was not history in a book but the personal stories of lives lived. Two of the half-dozen points of pride we highlight in all our presentations on the history of ENE is the formation of NSBE at Purdue in 1975 and creation of the first Women in Engineering Program in the USA at Purdue in 1969. In his talk, Art referred to the work of Bill LeBold, a pioneer engineering education scholar in Freshman Engineering from which ENE evolved - part of our rich, 50+ year heritage. It behooves all of us to get in touch with our heritage before we head off in all sorts of new directions. Other facets of a firm foundation include self-awareness (individual and collective), shared purpose and trust.

If our time (and energy) is to focus on being (rather than doing or becoming), we need to clear the path of unnecessary obstacles and unhelpful, energy-sapping activities. We must commit to creating and to using simple, effective, reliable, scalable, coherent, low-drama ways of getting things done. To evoke another metaphor, ENE is a start-up organization that has outgrown the garage where it was founded and now needs to adopt operating systems that support creativity and innovation that enable the founding vision to move forward as circumstances change. Again, these systems are not an end but a means. We have made considerable progress in this regard, but we need to lower the barriers further and to be vigilant about not creating new ones - even if unintentionally. Other ways to enable value-adding ways of working include having all us be on the same page and having each of us - as mutually accountable members of a scholarly community - practice ways of working that affirm others and build a team environment and trust. While we have made progress, we are yet to achieve the aspiration in our Strategic Plan (p3) of having "no bad days."

Absoultely we have MANY reasons to be proud and to celebrate; the recent Review of ENE demonstrated that together we have achieved many of the tangible outcomes envisioned for ENE back in 2004. 

Yet the real transformative opportunity for ENE - to be a new type of scholarly community, not just another department - requires that we continually strive to be the very best that we can be. We have many of the elements in place. My hope is that the coming academic year, 2012-13, will see us being a lived example of what is possible - something that other academic units try to emulate.  

—david

News and Information: 4/30

Very Sad News

One of our esteemed colleagues, Dr Edmond (Ed) Ko passed away last week. He was the head of the Centre for Engineering Education and Innovation (E2I) at HKUST. His passing is a major loss not only to Hong Kong at a time when they are totally transforming their engineering programs but also a loss to the global Engineering Education Research and Innovation community. I had the privilege of working with Ed over an 18-month period as a co-editor of the Centenary Edition of JEE and also being his guest in Hong Kong last year. He was a scholar, a believer in the transformative powers of education (learning), and a real gentleman. We will miss his thoughtful consideration of ideas and his passion.   —david


Learning from First-Year Engineering Students and TAs.

Students from Chemistry, Math, and Engineering Education enrolled in ENE 695, "Models and Modeling Perspective in Engineering Education," will present their research projects in a conference session format on Thursday, May 3, 1-3 pm in ARMS 1021. An agenda with the research topics listed can be found here.

Calendar: 4/30

Spring 2012

  • Thursday, May 3 - Presentation of research projects by students from Chemistry, Math, and Engineering Education enrolled in ENE 695, "Models and Modeling Perspective in Engineering Education"; ARMS 1021, 1-3 pm
  • Monday, May 7 - ENE Spring Celebration (McDowell Advising Award, Graduating PhDs, Promotions, Teaching Awards) ARMS 1300 Lobby, 10:30 am
  • Tuesday, May 8  - Grades due
  • Friday, May 11 - Engineering Commencement (BS only)
  • Sunday, May 13 - PhD Commencement

Summer 2012

  • June 10-13 - ASEE Annual Conference and Exhibition
  • June 18 - July 12 - STAR (Student Transition Advising and Registration)
  • June/July - ENGR 132 Summer Section

Fall 2012

  • Wednesday, Aug 15 - ENE Research Advance
  • Friday, Aug 17 - New PhD student Orientation
  • Monday, Aug 20 - Classes Commence
  • Friday, Sept 28 - Alumni Weekend
  • Saturday, Sept  29 - Family Day (ENE Booth)
  • Saturday, Oct 12-14 - Homecoming Weekend (ENE Booth and i2i Learning Lab Tours)
  • Thursday, Nov 1 - 2nd Annual ENE Interdisciplinary Colloquium 
  • Friday, Nov 2 - Engineering Education Industrial Advisory Council (E2IAC) - Theme: Research

Independence or National Days around the World

Kudos: 4/30

...to graduate students Hyunyi Jung (Mathematics Education), Farshid Marbouti (Engineering Education), Alena Moon (Chemistry Education), and Kelsey Rodgers (Engineering Education), who were awarded a 2012-2013 Discovery, Engagement And Learning (DEAL) Grant by the Purdue Graduate Student Government (PGSG) for their cross- department/interdisciplinary team proposal Investigating Graduate and Undergraduate TAs’ Perspectives Regarding Model-Eliciting Activity Implementation in the First-Year Engineering Program. The faculty  project advisor is Heidi Diefes-Dux (Engineering Education).

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