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Spring 2010

Welcome to the Spring 2010 issue of ENEws, an e-letter for the Purdue Engineering Education community—including our alumni from Interdisciplinary Engineering and Engineering Education, the members of our advisory boards, and our School's friends and donors, as well as faculty, graduate students, and staff.

This semester we report David Radcliffe's selection as head of the School of Engineering Education and the naming of ENE's headship in honor of Kamyar Haghighi (founding head). We also profile creative students and alumni across our academic programs, highlight faculty research, and note the achievements of ENE alumni, faculty, and students.

This e-letter is intended to keep you informed, once a semester, of news across the School. We encourage you to contact us with word about what kinds of news and stories you'd like to read (see contact information at the end of the newsletter). Enjoy!

—Lisa Tally, Editor

David Radcliffe Named Head of the School of Engineering Education

David RadcliffeENE's Epistemology Professor of Engineering Education, and interim head since July 2009, Dr. Radcliffe assumes the permanent role as Kamyar Haghighi Head of Engineering Education effective May 1.

Before joining Purdue in 2007, he was the Thiess Professor of Engineering Education and Professional Development in the School of Engineering at the University of Queensland (Australia) and Director of the Catalyst Research Centre for Society and Technology. He has held faculty positions at the University of Melbourne and Adelaide University. He received his BS and MS in mechanical engineering from the University of Queensland and a PhD in bioengineering from Strathclyde University (Scotland).

Dr. Radcliffe's research focuses on the nature of engineering—how it is practiced, how engineering knowledge is created and shared, and how it is learned, especially outside the classroom. Within this overall theme, over the past 20 years he has conducted field research on the practice of engineering design in variety of industries, in large and small firms with an emphasis on design thinking, most recently in relation to sustainability. He has also studied engineering education as a complex system, and the design and evaluation of next-generation learning environments. This research is intrinsically multidisciplinary and draws on methodologies from the humanities, social and behavioral sciences and involves collaboration with anthropologists, learning scientists, librarians, designers and architects. Dr Radcliffe is also very active in developing the engineering education research agenda nationally and internationally.

In 1994, Dr. Radcliffe was named the Inaugural National Teaching Fellow by the Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching (Australia), now called the Australian Teaching and Learning Council. He is a Fellow, Engineers Australia; a Chartered Professional Engineer; Member, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE); and Past President, Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AaeE).


ENE Headship Named for Kamyar Haghighi

The position of head of the School of Engineering Education has been named for the program's founder, thanks to a $2 million gift from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation.

Referring to Dr. Haghighi's role in establishing ENE in 2004, Leah Jamieson, Purdue's John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, said that he "forever changed the face of Purdue engineering. His vision will prepare our students for the sweeping and complex demands of the world of tomorrow and will ensure that scholarship in engineering education becomes an integral part of our culture."

Financial support to create an endowment for the head of engineering education will position Purdue to find a national leader who can enhance existing programs, develop innovative new initiatives, and recruit the best students, faculty and staff, Jamieson said.

A reception honoring Haghighi and celebrating the gift was held March 11 in Armstrong Hall's Kurz Atrium.

For more on the endowment, read here.

First-Year Engineering: Honors Students Race Miniature Solar Cars

The winning carAt 8:15 on the gray March morning after the Purdue men’s basketball team lost to Duke in the NCAA tourney, some 40 Purdue students walked over to a service building on Purdue’s campus to compete in a tourney of their own. Members of the First-Year Engineering Honors Learning Community (EHLC), they divided into 11 teams and engaged in a design-build-test project, creating tiny vehicles each composed of a solar panel, a gear box (three speeds), two sets of wheels, string for pulling a load, and the load itself—a C battery.

“It’s a chance for the students to be creative and to synthesize what they’ve learned,” says Jaclyn Palm, Assistant Director of the First-Year Engineering Honors Program. One hundred twenty of the program’s 204 students live in the learning community, which provides enrichment experiences like the solar car project, along with a common home in Earhart Hall.

Organized by the EHLC’s leadership board, the project encountered one unanticipated problem: lamps positioned a foot or so over the racetrack (to provide energy for the solar panels) ended up melting and warping the surface of the track. No matter. The cars raced on the wooden subsurface instead, with electrical tape marking off the lanes.

Team #7 named its vehicle the “Hummels 4,” a sporty number that performed well in time trials. It wound up in the final matchup against Team #3’s model, a sleek, minimalist creation that sped along the ~4-foot track in 1.99 seconds—and won the contest.

Team #3 members Alec Bangs, Cole Pechin, and Seth Flahaven were jubilant, if perhaps a little surprised. Says Bangs, “We were so tired after watching the game last night, I was kind of hoping we’d be out after the first round of competition!”

Photo: Bangs positions Team #3's solar car for its winning sprint.


Interdisciplinary: A Theater-Loving Student Pursues Lighting Engineering

Ian BozeWhen high school student Ian Boze started thinking about college, he knew two things: he was interested in engineering, and he didn’t want to give up theater. Those dual interests landed him in Purdue’s Multidisciplinary Engineering (MDE) program, offered through Interdisciplinary Engineering in the School of Engineering Education, as the first ever student to major in MDE’s lighting engineering concentration.

“I thought that having lighting engineering on my resume would make me more marketable than, say, having an electrical engineering degree and 30 hours of theater coursework,” says the Toledo, Ohio, native, now a Purdue sophomore. Boze’s theatrical experience includes both acting (he played Harold Hill in The Music Man in high school) and technical work, including set construction and special effects.

“I’ve worked on a lot of community theater productions,” says Boze, “where we always had big ideas but little in the way of resources to pull them off.” Being called on to create “big” out of “little,” as he puts it, developed his problem-solving skills, which pointed him toward engineering.

“What I want to do is work for companies that manufacture lighting systems and equipment,” Boze says.  “With my theater background, I know the effects that directors and lighting designers are going for, and I can help design the equipment that makes those ideas possible.”

His dream job is to do “a lot of corporate stuff”—concert events, auto shows, conferences, and the like, custom-designing lighting systems for special occasions. Two more years of theater courses and engineering courses—heavy into electrical engineering but also including MDE’s set of core engineering courses—will lay the foundation, as will Boze’s extracurricular activities.

“I’m on the executive board for Purdue Convocations, so I see a lot of different events come through, and I can look at them from a technical perspective,” he says. When Lady Gaga performed at Purdue in January, Boze was there, savoring the spectacle while contemplating the integration of the lighting and video work on a set designed to resemble a giant TV screen. This spring, he serves as light-board operator for Purdue Theatre’s production of Top Girls.

“Most people attend an event and want to see what’s happening on the stage,” he says. “I like to look back—and take a look at how the lights and equipment are set up.”

Photo: Boze behind the scenes at  Top Girls. “Purdue and the MDE program," he says, "are a perfect fit for me."

Interdisciplinary: Alums Lisa and Bryan Schafer Make Their Mark in Cincinnati

Lisa and Bryan SchaferThey met at a gathering of friends during their first weekend as students on Purdue’s campus. Now married and living in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lisa (BSE ’83, Architectural Engineering) and Bryan (BSE ’82, Biomedical Engineering) Schafer contribute to the city’s quintessential character by putting their Purdue IDE degrees to work at the City of Cincinnati parks system and Procter & Gamble.

Lisa, who also has a graduate degree in digital design from the University of Cincinnati, is park engineer for Cincinnati Parks, where she is responsible for all facets of planning and design. That includes helping to implement the parks’ 2007 Centennial Master Plan, which involved improving wayfinding throughout the park system, engaging in restoration and historic preservation, implementing sustainable technologies, and installing sculptures and art elements.

"I use the problem-solving skills I developed at Purdue daily in my job,” Lisa says. “Every day I find myself explaining and thinking about the engineering concepts I learned at Purdue: ‘This is why you need to anchor it.’ ‘Porous concrete will perform differently than regular concrete because…’ ‘Will a copper roof, subjected to the elements, installed over terra cotta panels, chemically interact and shorten the life of the panels?’ ‘Remember, water flows downhill.’

Ranked by USA Today as one of the top three urban park systems in the country, Cincinnati Parks includes the Krohn Conservatory, a historic Art Deco structure that houses the springtime “Butterfly Show,” a rainforest waterfall, and more than 3,500 plant species from around the world. Lisa has worked to update the conservatory with aesthetic improvements, greater accessibility, and sustainable technology.

Bryan, who has a graduate degree from Purdue’s Krannert School of Management (operations) in addition to his IDE degree, is section manager at Procter & Gamble’s Mason, Ohio, location, working in the Pharmaceuticals R&D Information Technology division. He’s done everything from upstream discovery informatics to clinical development, regulatory work, and safety systems. 

"In my current assignment, I work with our R&D process development organization,” he says. “We do a lot of business transformation [process reengineering] work to help us bring big innovations to the marketplace faster. Process development is heavily staffed with engineers, so it’s very helpful for me to be able to ‘speak the same language.’  In this role, I’m using not only IT skills, but my engineering and management backgrounds from Purdue.”

Bryan also works with the program InterAlliance of Greater Cincinnati, selecting top high school students to intern in IT fields at Procter & Gamble and other companies in the area. The Schafers cite the ability to problem-solve, to work in a changing environment, and to collaborate across disciplines and countries as important skills for successful engineers.

“We’ve definitely refined and adjusted our career paths along the way,” says Lisa, whose artistic interests include painting and, with Bryan, launching an iPhone app for electronic greeting cards called pennycard. "I think it’s important to look at the things you enjoy doing—the things that, while you’re doing them, make you lose all track of time. If you’re engaged and passionate about your work, you’ll be more satisfied and successful in your pursuits.”


Photo: The Schafers. Twenty-plus years out of Purdue, Lisa remembers the first crisp autumn days each year when the University came alive with students and activities; Bryan, the "wonderful professors—very challenging, but great, teachers."

PhD Program: Student Team Travels to NYC for “Mobile Design Boost”

The teamOver spring break, engineering education doctoral students Shawn Jordan and Hanjun Xian, with agricultural economics student Kate Mane, headed for New York City to participate in the first ever Mobile Design Boost, a weeklong “boot camp” for prototyping digital learning products for mobile devices. Sponsored by Startl and IDEO, the program places novice inventors among a host of educational experts, human-centered designers, technology gurus, prospective users, and venture capitalists so that good ideas can become great ones (and marketable ones). “We went in with this prototype of an iPhone app called EcoExplorer,” says Jordan, “but at the Design Boost, we saw a much greater potential in our product.”

Targeted primarily toward the secondary education market (grades 6-12), and explained by Jordan in a five-minute pitch on Day 1 (Monday), EcoExplorer was intended to let learners solve environmental mysteries by connecting them with real-world sensor data from the past or present, all in the palms of their hands. Sensors that measure everything from wind speed to water temperature are ubiquitous in today’s landscape, but the data that they collect is not very accessible to the general public. Learners would be challenged to pick an event—from a blizzard in their towns to choosing a site for a wind farm in another part of the country—and solve the puzzles by identifying the location of the event on a map and visualizing real sensor data from that location to determine potential causes of the event. 


"We tested the app with middle school and high school teachers, some parents, and a number of kids who’d been pulled out of school,” says Xian. “The teachers said, ‘Oh, this is great,’ but the students weren’t really interested in it. They didn’t realize the value of the sensor data.”

A whirlwind of brainstorming, testing, and expert advice—particularly on human-centered design techniques—led the team to reconceive its project. They set the EcoExplorer idea aside but developed the data platform underlying it into a new idea called SensoryPerception. “That’s our core competency,” says Jordan, “and we decided to pitch it as a software platform that other apps can be built on.” To illustrate, the team developed one game-related sample app called GrowMi, which lets players, as virtual gardeners, use sensor data to decide where and when to plant virtual seeds.

The storyboard

On Day 5 (Friday), Jordan delivered the team’s revised pitch, on SensoryPerception. “The venture capitalists in the room were interested in the data platform,” he says. “They said we could create a business out of it. I thought we saw a significant improvement in our idea from the beginning of Mobile Design Boost to the end.”

For Xian, the experience prompted reflection on how he could improve his current research project at Purdue. “Maybe I should organize some focus groups to test the web site I’m working on,” he says. “I cannot just live in my own imagination.” Jordan, who graduates this summer and expects to teach engineering, says he keeps thinking how he would structure a design class using the methods he encountered at Mobile Design Boost. “I see a lot of potential,” he says, “for bringing this into a class.”

Images: Top: Hanjun Xian, researcher and software designer; Shawn Jordan, content area/education expert; and Kate Mane, marketing expert. Middle: Xian tests ideas with young students. Bottom: The team created this storyboard to illustrate how students would use the mobile learning application.

Research: Global Engineering Education Pilot Program Focuses on China

Brent JesiekPresident Barack Obama has pledged to send 100,000 American students to China over the next four years, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen a team of Purdue engineering faculty and staff—including ENE’s Brent Jesiek—to help determine how to do it.

Through a new pilot program, the team will devise recruitment, placement, and orientation protocols for 59 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students planning to conduct research in China this summer as participants in NSF’s International Research and Education in Engineering (IREE) program. The goal: to achieve quality research collaborations, enhance the affordability of IREE, and examine which forms of cross-cultural orientation are most effective.

Brent Jesiek

“With China being identified as an up-and-coming R&D leader, it’s viewed as strategically important to the United States to seed and sustain research collaborations with them,” says Jesiek. Students will fan out across mainland China and beyond, with placements in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mongolia, and other locations, primarily in universities.

Jesiek’s team is responsible for leading two main parts of the project. The first: the overall assessment and evaluation of the entire program, which includes developing surveys, conducting focus groups, and collecting other kinds of data. “One big question here,” says Jesiek, “is whether site placement, in which Purdue places groups of students, is more cost-effective than self-placement, in which students enter the program with individual placements already arranged on their own."

The team’s second responsibility is to develop orientation programs for students and compare the relative effectiveness of each. “We’ll offer a two-week, face-to-face orientation at Purdue in May,” says Jesiek. “For a different set of students, we’ll offer a similar orientation, but it will be held in Shanghai. The third group of students will experience an online orientation program.” The appeal of the online orientation is lower overhead and the flexibility of providing synchronous and asynchronous activities for students to complete.

Along with background on the Mandarin language, orientation will touch on Chinese history, diversity across China’s various regions, cultural etiquette, and how social and cultural dimensions affect the practice of engineering in the country. How are decisions made? How do relationships among team members and with supervisors work? What do legal contracts mean or represent? Says Jesiek, “I think it’s universal that when you deal with cultures very different from your own, you’ll find very different approaches to engineering and problem-solving.”

Jesiek, who has traveled to Hong Kong in the past, will help lead the face-to-face orientation at Purdue and in China. He leaves for Shanghai this spring.

For more information on IREE, read here.
Images: Top: "Engineering Cultures China" in Mandarin. Middle: Brent Jesiek.


Research: Getting Our Stories Straight

What stories and messages do engineering professors convey to students about the engineering profession? ENE professor Alice Pawley asked that question—and summarizes her findings in this excerpt (PDF) from "Universalized Narratives: Patterns in How Faculty Members Define 'Engineering'" (Journal of Engineering Education, October 2009). The excerpt appeared in the November 2009 issue of ASEE Prism magazine.

INSPIRE: ENE Research Institute and PBS TeacherLine Partner on Online Course for Teachers

INSPIRE logoENE's Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) will work with PBS TeacherLine, the premier provider of online professional development for preK-12 educators, to develop an online course for elementary educators on teaching engineering concepts to young students.

“These are exciting times for STEM educators, given the strong political commitment to STEM teacher training, a revitalized national focus on the E [engineering] in STEM, and a growing research body that demonstrates interest in engineering needs to be fostered particularly in the early years,” says Johannes Strobel, director of INSPIRE and assistant professor of engineering education and educational technology at Purdue. “It’s time to translate that research into teacher professional development."



Congratulations to these ENE faculty, alumni, and students on honors received this semester.

Dr. Monica Cox at the White HousePresidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

In January, ENE professor Monica Cox traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor given by the U.S. government to researchers in the early stages of their independent research careers. One of 100 recipients so honored this year, Cox and her fellow awardees met in the East Room of the White House for a ceremony with President Barack Obama. Read more on the award. (Purdue news release).Photo: Cox is in the second row from the front, eighth from the left.

Geoff Crowley2010 Distinguished Engineering Alumni Awards

Purdue's College of Engineering honored Geoffrey T. Crowley (BS IDE, Transportation, '74), President of Northshore Leasing LLC, as one of its nine Distinguished Engineering Alumni for 2010, in recognition of "his innovation, entrepreneurship, and national leadership in the aviation industry." Read more about his career and accomplishments.

Howard Gobstein2010 Engineering Education Outstanding Alumni Awards

Howard J. Gobstein (BS IDE, Technology and Public Policy, '74), Executive Officer; Vice President, Research, Innovation, and STEM Education; and Co-Director, Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative for the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, received this year's Engineering Education Outstanding Alumni Award, which honors ENE alumni whose have achieved singular accomplishments in their fields, whose successful careers are role models for our students, and whose achievements set an example for all the School's alumni. Read more on his career and accomplishments. Photo: From left: David Radcliffe, ENE head; Howard Gobstein; Phillip Wankat, director of IDE; and Leah Jamieson, John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering.

Dr. William OakesENE Professor William Oakes Named a Fellow of NSPE

The National Society of Professional Engineers is the only national organization committed to addressing the professional concerns of licensed PEs (professional engineers) across all disciplines. The NSPE Fellow Program recognizes licensed members who have demonstrated exemplary service to the profession, the Society, and the community. Of the organization's more than 38,000 members, Oakes is one of 404 Fellows.

Dr. Matt OhlandENE Professor Matt Ohland Named a Senior Member of IEEE

IEEE, the world's largest technical professional society (more than 395,000 members around the world), serves professionals involved in all aspects of the electrical, electronic, and computing fields and related areas. As a Senior Member, Ohland has attained the highest grade for which IEEE members can apply.

IDE award winnersInterdisciplinary Engineering Student Achievement Awards • Fall 2009

Outstanding Senior Academic Achievement: Carmen Rodriguez
Outstanding Senior Award for Service: Philip Zumbrun
Outstanding Junior Academic Achievement: C. Nichole Schrank

Photo: Phillip Wankat, director of IDE, with honorees Rodriguez, Zumbrun, and Schrank.

ENE Outstanding Graduates • 2009-10

Graduate student: Shawn Jordan
Honored for academic and technical achievements, involvement in organizations, service to Purdue and to the engineering education community, and service character (including willingness to serve, helpful and positive attitude).

Undergraduate student: Ben Carlisle, Acoustical Engineering (Multidisciplinary Engineering)
Honored as an outstanding acoustical engineer, musician, and staff resident in university residence halls.

ENEws is produced by the School of Engineering Education for the Purdue Engineering Education community. To view the e-letter in its entirety, click here.

For more information about ENE, contact us at:

School of Engineering Education
Purdue University
Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, Room 1300
701 W. Stadium Ave.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2045
(765) 494-9713

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Lisa Tally
Director of Communications
(765) 494-9391

Purdue’s School of Engineering Education includes the First-Year Engineering Program; Interdisciplinary Engineering; the world’s first PhD program in engineering education; and INSPIRE, the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning.