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ENE Memo: May 14, 2012

From the Head: 5/14

Team Paradox

Purdue engineering student teamThe stereotypical image of a workplace team is that of a small group of people gathered around a table in animated discussion. However, the reality is that much of the work of teams is accomplished by individuals working by themselves in coordination with others who depend upon them and upon whom, in turn, they depend. So for the most part, teams work together - separately.

While team members need to meet periodically, be it physically or virtually, to plan and to coordinate the interdependent work of the team, for the bulk of the workday members are engaged doing the work for which they are individually responsible. This creates a paradox whereby team performance depends very heavily on how well each team member performs individually in carrying out his or her assigned duties and tasks. Much of the writing on teams and teaming focuses on team processes and group dynamics. However, the team paradox suggests that we should not lose sight of the critical importance of the individual team member and how well they do their work in shaping overall team performance.

We cannot always influence, let alone control, what others in our team do. However, some things we can control that will help our team to be a champion team include:

  • Do our job competently, consistently and reliably, without drama or fanfare;
  • Do what we say we will do; be dependable (Under-promise & Over-deliver);
  • Take responsibility for our actions; do not blame others but learn from our mistakes;
  • Be proactive and show initiative but check with others before acting;
  • Mind our own business and let others get on with their work;
  • Learn how our individual contributions contribute to the output of the whole team; 
  • Continuously improve and stretch our job knowledge, skills and efficiency;
  • Communicate simply, directly and honestly, based on active listening;
  • Use the commonly agreed upon team systems and tools;
  • Work with other team members to continuously improve these systems and tools;
  • Contribute constructively to the workplace climate and avoid negative behaviors (e.g. gossiping);
  • Be considerate of the time and personal space of others.

To do anything less would be to risk letting ourself and others down.


News and Information: 5/14

Sad News

Peg Michael passed away on Saturday after battling breast cancer. Through her role in the College, Peg was very helpful to our graduate students and a great support to the administration of our new PhD program. We will miss her easygoing style and helpful disposition. Peg requested people wear Hawaiian dress, pink or other bright clothes for the celebration of her life on this Tuesday.

Crowley Family Foundation Professorship in Engineering Education

Last week Geoff Crowley, an Outstanding IDE Alum and Distinguished Engineering Alumnus of the College of Engineering, endowed a Professorship in Engineering Education through his family foundation. This generous gift will help us to recruit senior faculty to ENE. The timing could not be better as the recent review of our school highlighted the critical need for us to increase the senior leadership. Previously Mr. Crowley provided support for the TULIP project in the school. His continued support of ENE is deeply appreciated not simply for the financial contribution that it provides but also for the affirmation that it represents of what we are doing to transform engineering education. Coming as it does from someone who helped transform the airline industry, this gift is all the more significant. 

Why Not Me? An Inspiring Thought

At the engineering commencement on Friday, May 11, the student responder, Keith Hansen, gave an excellent address centered around the email that Kamyar Haghighi sent to inform the community that he had ALS. Rather than ask the self-pitying "Why me?", Kamyar asked the more challenging "Why not me?" - still an inspiring thought.


Calendar: 5/14

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

  • May 14 – Israel - Independence Day
  • May 14 – Paraguay – Independence Day
  • May 17 – Norway – Constitution Day
  • May 20 – Cameroon – National Day


Kudos: 5/14 Junqiu Wang and Noah Salzman, recipients of a two-month summer research grant based on their work as teaching assistants in First-Year Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, respectively. To have been eligible, candidates must have been ENE graduate students with half-time teaching assistant appointments in the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters. Congratulations, Junqiu and Noah! the EPICS program, directed by Bill Oakes, through which a student team designed a sculpture—"Visiting Our Solor System"—to be installed in a new mall in Discovery Park. A three-foot-high model was shown to Purdue trustees this past Friday. Named in honor of the late astronaut and Purdue alumna Janice Voss, the sculpture is intended to inspire interest in STEM fields.

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