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ENE Memo: November 14, 2011

From the Head: 11/14

Challenging Perspectives

How we see things depends upon our perspective. Many factors contribute to the shaping of our perspective. These include our life experience, family and friends, educational experiences, socio-economic status, national history and cultural influences, our cosmology, and the nature of the stake we have in the matter at hand.

The inaugural Interdisciplinary Engineering Colloquium held last Thursday looked at human space flight, not from the usual perspective of Purdue as the cradle of the astronauts but rather from the socio-political context of the era and the complexities of the teamwork that makes space flight possible. We were presented with two contrasting yet complementary viewpoints: that of the historian looking back on the early space race in a scholarly fashion and that of a flight director responsible for the planning and the safe return of Shuttle astronauts—the human aspect of engineering work. A number of people commented after the event that these different perspectives helped them gain valuable new insights into a familiar topic.

On Friday our Industrial Advisory Council met to provide ENE with advice and counsel from their unique perspective as practitioners with a deep commitment to our sustainable success. These "critical friends" heard of our many recent accomplishments and of our challenges and opportunities going forward. They visited INSPIRE and had proposals on prospective industry research studies pitched to them by five of our PhD students. The Council members were very impressed at our progress on many fronts; heartening feedback. Sometimes when we are in the thick of getting through the day-to-day grind we can easily lose perspective and fail to appreciate just what we have created and achieved. It can take the insights of the observant outsider to put things into a more realistic perspective.

On Monday and Tuesday next week, a group of senior academics from around the country will be visiting the School to conduct the site visit component of a formal External Review. This is the first time the ENE has been reviewed. The scope of the review is broad and includes all aspects of our operations, people and organization, undergraduate and graduate programs, research and engagement. One of the hidden benefits of this type of review is the self-reflection we undertake as we prepare for the review by examining what we have accomplished, our strengths and areas in which we can improve. The fresh perspective of the External Review committee will also assist us to 'see' ourselves and the possible futures in some new ways.

Our visitor this week, Jenni Case from South Africa, brings a different perspective to engineering education reform in a global context shaped by her background and her work in South Africa. I am sure her perspective will challenge some of our implicit assumptions that flow from the unique way we perceive engineering education, shaped as it is by our particular socio-historical context. Having just spent a couple of days in Australia, I was reminded of some of the core cultural traditions that shape my perspective: "a fair go," "mateship," and "egalitarianism."

Periodically we need to step back and challenge our perspective so we can think more critically about how we approach our work. Given our limited resources and our ambitious goals, we should focus our efforts on those actions that affirm people, give us energy and produce lasting success and reject that which is petty and negative and which consumes precious time and energy which could be used for realizing our dreams – both individually and collectively.

  - David

News and Information: 11/14

Visitor:  Dr Jennifer Case (all day Monday and Tuesday morning)

On Monday and Tuesday this week ENE is hosting a visit by Dr Jennifer Case from the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She is giving a seminar on Monday morning (Nov 14).

  • Time: Monday (Nov 14) at 9:30am
  • Location: ARMS 3115
  • Title: Educating Engineers towards a "World Worth Living In": A South African Perspective on Global Discussions in Engineering Education"

If you want to meet Dr Case one-on-one, please check with Dr Wankat or Julie Russell to get on her "dance card."

You can learn something of her work by viewing the video associated with her paper in the Centennial Issue of the Journal of Engineering Education:


New ENE Grad Course — ENE 69500: Models & Modeling Perspective in Engineering Education

CRN 60788
Credits: 3
Day: Monday
Time: 12:30p-3:20p
Room: ARMS-3109

Taught by Dr. Heidi Diefes-Dux. Read more about the course here.


Do you know a Boilermaker who thrives on helping others?

These students are leaders who don’t just have a vision but also have an innate desire to help others discover and reach their goals. Maybe they mentor schoolchildren through College Mentors for Kids or they are an upperclassman who mentors freshmen in their major.

If you know someone who is passionate about being a role model and sharing their knowledge with others, please nominate them as a Future Maker!

The February 2012 “5 Students Who . . .” will feature their stories.

Please nominate your “Future Maker” candidate by completing the form at Providing detailed information on the student will increase their chance to be selected.

We’ve started early because of the coming holidays. Finalists will be identified before Thanksgiving, so please complete your nominations by Friday, November 18.

If you have any questions, please contact Sue Ferringer ( or Atul Todi  (

Thanks for helping us share our student success stories with the world.


From the ENE Graduate Student Association

As the semester comes to a close, be sure to finish strong. If needed, feel free to seek assistance from fellow ENE students, faculty, and the ENEGSA team. After all, it takes a team, and we are all in this thing together.

The ENEGSA volleyball team finished the intramural season for the fall semester this previous week. Congratulations to the volleyball team for a hard-fought season! If you are interested in becoming involved in intramural sports this upcoming semester, check out the entry dates at and then get in contact with the ENEGSA.

Stay tuned for upcoming events and announcements, including the launch of our new website! For current ENEGSA details visit our Facebook page: <!/groups/266040729219/>. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please email us at <>.


ENE Research Seminar (Thursday)


Dr. Johannes Strobel, ENE

Title Expertise and Adoption: Preliminary Classification of Elementary Teachers' Integration of Engineering

3:30-4:20 p.m., Nov. 17,  Forney G124


Independence and National Days around the world

  • Nov 18 – Latvia – Proclamation of Independence
  • Nov 18 – Oman – National Day

Calendar: 11/14

Spring 2012

Kudos: 11/14 Lisa, Becky and Julie for organizing the very successful Interdisciplinary Engineering Colloquium on Thursday. Yes indeed - "It takes a Team!" Becky and Julie for organizing and supporting the Engineering Education Industrial Advisory Council on Friday. Cindey for pulling the Internal Review document together. Johannes Strobel and Rui Pan on a new publication: Strobel, J., & Pan, R. (2011). Compound Problem Solving: Insights from the Workplace for Engineering Education. Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 137(4), 215-222.

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