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Fall 2014

ENE 2.0

During the year long celebration marking the tenth anniversary of the founding of the School of Engineering Education (ENE), we recognized the historical precursors of our school: Freshman Engineering (from 1953), the Division of Interdisciplinary Engineering (from 1969) and decades of scholarly work in engineering education dating back to the 1950s. ENE has grown in unprecedented ways over the past decade and exceeded expectations in many dimensions of scope and scale. The number of faculty has expanded fourfold with the prospect of still further growth. The number of staff has grown with many new types of roles being created. First-Year Engineering numbers have increased about 30% and the operation to support their learning has expanded considerably from the time when there were just four lecture sections of ENGR 126 and only in fall. Our graduate program has grown from just a handful of students to be more than 70 with the prospect of getting even larger. With undergraduate numbers in engineering growing overall, the opportunity exists to increase the size of the B.S. in Multidisciplinary Engineering.

Interdisciplinarity is a unifying theme for ENE. Our faculty, staff and students come from very diverse educational and professional backgrounds, individually and collectively. Our educational programs are interdisciplinary. The first year is interdisciplinary in the sense that it spans all engineering disciplines as well as the non-engineering courses. By definition our MDE and IDES degrees are interdisciplinary including strong links to the liberal arts, especially theater and design. Also, by definition, our graduate program is interdisciplinary, drawing on diverse knowledge domains from across many intellectual traditions. We are a confluence of disciplines; a meeting place where different ways of understanding the world collide and where new thinking emerges.

So, as we move into the future, the challenge before us is to strengthen the ties that bind and continue to grow this as a vibrant, dynamic community with a shared purpose and singular identity.

Dr. David Radcliffe

Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education

Loui named Gallagher Professor

Dr. Michael C. Loui (left) with Purdue Provost Debasish (Deba) Dutta.

Dr. Michael C. Loui was named the inaugural Dale and Suzi Gallagher Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue during the Fall 2014 academic term.

An electrical and computer engineering professor and University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar at the Urbana-Champaign campus, his interests include computational complexity theory, professional ethics and, for the past decade, engineering education research. He spent the 2012-2013 academic year on sabbatical at the School of Engineering Education (ENE), saying at the time that Purdue “is Mecca for engineering education research.”

Dr. Loui believes his background and interests can help meet ENE’s mission and needs.

“As a senior professor, I enjoy mentoring graduate students and faculty members,” he says. “I created interdisciplinary undergraduate courses (at the U of I) on engineering ethics and on technology and society, and I taught a graduate course on college teaching and academic careers. I hope to teach similar interdisciplinary courses for undergraduate students and professional development courses for graduate students.”

Initially, Dr. Loui will have a 75%-time appointment at Purdue. During the 2014-15 academic year, he plans to spend one day per week in Urbana advising his continuing graduate students, participating in ongoing projects, and meeting the assistant editor of the Journal of Engineering Education (JEE). Loui serves as editor of JEE, which will continue to be based at the U of I.

Among his research goals, Loui says he would like to work with faculty at Purdue and other institutions to propose the creation of an NSF engineering research center devoted to engineering education.

“The center would include a focus on the translation of research to practice,” he says. “For example, the center would organize regional professional development workshops for engineering faculty and administrators, including K-12 teachers who want to learn to teach engineering. The center would provide a permanent online home for peer-reviewed and tested resources for engineering instruction, analogous to the Science Education Resource Center.”

The Carnegie Scholar and IEEE Fellow served as associate dean of the Graduate College at Illinois from 1996 to 2000.

Dr. Loui earned his Ph.D. at M.I.T. in 1980.

INSPIRE Engineering Gift Guide

The Engineering Gift Guide was developed through the INSPIRE Institute for Pre-College Engineering, a part of the School of Engineering Education.

It features toys, games, books, movies and apps for mobile devices for a variety of ages. In addition to the selected items, the guide includes suggestions on finding other engineering-themed gifts.

“It’s important to introduce engineering to children at a very young age – even before they reach kindergarten,” says Monica Cardella, associate professor of engineering education and INSPIRE director. “One way to achieve this is simply putting a puzzle together or playing with building blocks and talking with the child about what they want to design, what ways they can accomplish that, and who or what could use their creation.

“It’s also important to recognize that girls can enjoy creating circuits, conducting science experiments and designing structures as much as boys. However, studies show us that these kinds of toys are purchased more than twice as frequently for boys as they are for girls.”

Along with the gift guide, INSPIRE offers “A Parent’s Guide to Introducing Engineering at Home.” It explains the importance of helping children learn about engineering and gives examples of how engineers help their own children learn the concepts of the engineering design process, which promotes learning in general.

“You don’t have to be an engineer or a whiz at science and math to expose your child to engineering,” Cardella says. “I think many parents and grandparents don’t realize that. Part of our goal is to help parents of all gender, race, ethnicity, class and educational backgrounds provide access to engineering for their kids. We don’t think that all kids need to end up loving engineering, but we do think all kids deserve a chance to consider if engineering is something they are interested in.”

The “Engineering Gift Guide” and “Parent’s Guide” are available online at

INSPIRE studies engineering thinking and learning to engage all pre-college learners and impact educational systems. INSPIRE offers professional development for teachers, curricular materials, resources for parents, and assessments that researchers and educators can use to measure engineering thinking and learning.

Interdisciplinary Engineering Colloquium

The 2014 Interdisciplinary Engineering Colloquium explored handling risk in products and processes. The colloquium, “Risky Business: Accepting Human Failure; Preventing System Failure,” examined the issue from the perspectives of the insurance industry and scientific research.

Tom Gray speaks about avoiding property risk, among other topics, during the 2014 Colloquium.

Panelists were Tom Gray, property consulting director for CNA, and Karen Marais, assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics.

Gray, who graduated from Purdue with a degree in interdisciplinary engineering focused on engineering management, has nearly four decades of professional experience in the insurance industry. He has worked with high-hazard industries, such as chemical and pharmaceutical companies and grain elevators, where dust explosions and flammable liquid fires are considered very high hazard risks.

Marais has a background in aerospace engineering and researches system safety and risk analysis. She presented a history of our understanding of failure and what steps could be taken to improve a situation.

In the spirit of the School of Engineering Education’s pioneering Multidisciplinary Engineering/Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies programs, the colloquium brings together speakers to discuss a topical subject, inviting perspectives from fields including engineering, the humanities and social sciences, and education.

You can view the colloquium video HERE.

The Interdisciplinary Engineering Colloquium is supported by the Professor Bruce Johnson Graduate Education Fund.

Alumni Profile: Charlie Giesting

Thirty-five years after leaving Purdue with a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary engineering, Charlie Giesting (Engineering Management, `79) is forging a new career path.

He and several colleagues recently launched Integrity Leadership Partners (ILP) in Plainfield, IN. The firm has a mission to promote ethical leadership at any organization, no matter its size.

Charlie Giesting (BSE IDE, Engineering Management, 1979) is the founder of Integrity Leadership Partners and a senior consultant there.

“I realize small and medium sized companies’ budgets often do not cover a full time person devoted to Ethics and Compliance,” Giesting says, “but that’s where ILP can come in and collaborate with the top management or the Board of Directors to first understand the current situation and organizational culture before helping to install, refresh or support a program in this area.”

He formed ILP after spending years working in ethics and compliance for Rolls-Royce North America and, prior to that, the Allison Division of General Motors.

“I loved working in the Ethics and Compliance field and knew from my experience that there was a need to educate others on what is Ethical Leadership, what it means and how to put a formal program in place that helps all stakeholders of an organization.”

At Rolls-Royce, Giesting says he developed and oversaw code of ethics and business conduct policies, ethics and compliance training and communications, and auditing and monitoring of the ethics program. Through reports from the whistle-blower line and other calls received, he managed and helped to resolve more than 1,000 ethics investigations.

“As one company president shared with me after a single, very serious fraud issue was resolved,” Giesting recalls, “‘Having the Ethics and Compliance Program in place was worth every penny we ever spent on it and then several times over that!’”

Giesting transferred to Purdue from Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne, thinking he would enroll in agricultural engineering, because of his farm heritage. His advisor was in mechanical engineering and told him to wait a semester or two before committing to the agriculture program. Instead of taking that advice, Giesting realized he would rather have some real-world experience. Over the next 18 months, he held jobs as a material handler and a machine operator at a plastic extrusion factory, an associate manager at a fast food restaurant and as a draftsman and process-routing writer at a metal working plant. He says all those jobs taught him that he liked working with people and in particular, the manufacturing industry. Co-workers at his last job urged him to return to Purdue for his degree.

“I was so happy that the Interdisciplinary Engineering (Program) existed and had the Engineering Management major,” Giesting says. “It seemed to fit me perfectly. I was able to use my earlier core engineering courses while now loading up on Industrial Engineering and Krannert Management courses. I loved it!”

He credits his successful career, in part, to the Interdisciplinary Engineering Program that allowed him to individualize a learning plan that fit his needs – a characteristic of the program that still holds true for students today.

Purdue’s School of Engineering Education now offers bachelor’s degrees in Multidisciplinary Engineering (MDE) and Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies (IDES). The MDE degree program prepares students to practice as engineers, while the IDES program is for those who may or may not choose to enter professional practice.

Dr. Mary Pilotte, associate professor of engineering practice, is the new director of the School’s undergraduate degree program. She says Charlie Giesting’s career is a great example of what a student can do with a similar education in engineering.

“His success in the workplace is proof that the job market for great interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary engineering talent is insatiable,” she says. “Purdue’s IDES and MDE programs are and have been uniquely positioned to help students find a customizable pathway toward professional success for the long-term.”

 “My Purdue education has served me very well over the years,” Giesting says. “I believe the best is yet to come!”

Alumni Profile: Rhonda Sherwood

During the effort to make Connecticut the first state in the nation banning the chemical known as Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, a Purdue engineering alumna made her voice heard.

Rhonda Sherwood (BSE IDE, ‘83) was among those who testified before Connecticut lawmakers in favor of the ban. She credits her engineering background for the ability to present scientific evidence to show the harm BPA poses to human health – especially in children.

Rhonda (Rottschafer) Sherwood (BSE IDE, Biomedical Engineering, 1983) is an advocate for children's health.

“Giving testimony can be daunting, and then you’ll get a paid lobbyist to come and speak and they usually try to confuse the issue by mentioning chemicals that are not of immediate concern,” she says, “but sound science and peer-reviewed studies are always the way to get laws passed.”

Sherwood, whose maiden name is Rottschafer, displayed the perseverance needed to enact tough legislation back when she was a student at Purdue. After enrolling as a biology major with the intention of being pre-med, she quickly switched to the biomedical concentration in the Interdisciplinary Engineering program. (Before the current School of Biomedical Engineering opened, students interested in biomedical engineering were in Interdisciplinary Engineering). Despite the efforts of advisors and faculty members persuading her to consider another type of engineering, Sherwood says she made the right decision in line with her goals.

“I wanted to focus on healthcare,” she says. “That’s been the emphasis of my entire career as an adult. And I absolutely knew I did not want to deviate from the biology part, but I just wanted to understand more about technology as it relates to the science.”

Even though Sherwood was one of just a few females at the time in the Interdisciplinary Engineering program with a biomed focus, she forged ahead. She had the opportunity in her senior year to take a class taught by Dr. Leslie Geddes, who ran the biomed graduate program and would win the National Medal of Technology in 2006.

“It was a great degree for me, because when I decided not to go to medical school, I ended up getting a really terrific job in 1983, which was a horrible economy, with General Electric Medical System (now known as GE Healthcare),” she remembers. “It was an exciting time, because the MRI scanner just received Food and Drug Administration approval and GE was the leader in this field, so there was so much to learn.”

Sherwood left GE two years later to pursue an MBA full time from Northwestern University. That led her to a job with a consulting firm with clients like Dow Chemical and the petroleum industry. Wanting to get back into healthcare, she took a job with a venture capital firm which specialized in that industry. After her second child was born, she did some consulting work on her own, but eventually focused on raising her family full-time in the New York City area.

Back to Healthcare

When all three of her children were well into school, Sherwood found herself getting restless.

“I decided I needed to pursue my passion, which had evolved from my knowledge and love of healthcare, but also my upbringing. My mom and dad were health food enthusiasts,” she says. “After encouragement from friends, I thought a good idea would be to write a book. It was a cookbook, but really the intention was to guide readers on avoiding chemicals that could seep into their foods.”

That included warnings about nonstick surfaces, produce sprayed with pesticides, plastics that people stored their food in or cans that they purchased their foods and beverages in. Sherwood says she knew about such things from research and the fact that she, her two sisters and mother were always “absorbing this knowledge.”

A chance meeting with a businessman, with whom she had a mutual friend, resulted in her being offered the chance to form an organization for a famous doctor at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. The doctor – Philip Landrigan – studies the chemicals that she was trying to educate people on avoiding.  Sherwood was named vice chairman of the executive board and served in that position for seven years.

“The three of us started the Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center and I offered to start a fundraiser, called Greening Our Children, which is still in existence today,” she says. “We just funded an over $4 million lab that’s going to analyze chemicals and air quality to determine what might be causing the increase incidence in diseases that we’re seeing in children today.”

The Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Environmental Health Sciences Laboratory honors the late U.S. senator from New Jersey. Lautenberg led the effort to require seatbelts in cars, ban smoking on airplanes, and in 2013 proposed the Safe Chemicals Act, among other pieces of safety legislation.

“I really think (this lab) is going to change the world,” Sherwood says, “because people are looking for answers as to why autism, ADHD and pediatric cancers, for example, have risen so dramatically just in a generation.”

Giving Back

The four years spent at Purdue, she admits, are among the best years of her life. So much so, that she plans to help the College of Engineering promote its programs in the Northeast in the coming years.

“The field of engineering is such a fantastic platform from which to build a career – especially from Purdue, which is so renowned for its engineering degrees worldwide,” Sherwood says. “It really adds a level of credibility that if I were another kind of major, I would not have.”

PhD Program: Making a community impact

One weekend in late September, nearly 100 teenage girls from across the country came together at a camp outside of Atlanta. They were part of the Girls Who Rule The World (GWRTW) mentoring weekend organized by the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation.

One of the events was a workshop designed to introduce the high school and junior high-aged participants to the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) sponsored the toy car-building workshop and Trina Fletcher, an engineering education graduate student in her second year at Purdue University, was leading the effort.

“It was just phenomenal! We were able to put a mentor with a group of four young women,” she says. “We had a competition once they got done building the cars. So, it was nice to see the young ladies be excited about how far their car went or to see how water and oxygen were able to make this car run. It was very exciting, very fun.”

Steve Harvey is best known as a comedian and actor, but along with his wife, Marjorie, created a foundation with the mission of “developing programs and supporting community-based organizations that foster excellence in the areas of health, education and social well-being within urban and ethnically diverse communities.” The foundation’s mentoring program is the cornerstone of its mission.

In her role as workshop leader, Trina worked with both NSBE and the Foundation to make sure the right supplies were ordered, the 25 women volunteering as mentors were properly trained, and the workshop was completed in the short amount of time it was given.

Trina Fletcher (second from right) with participants of the Girls Who Rule The World mentoring weekend.

“It was just nice to have the opportunity to work in that setting with so many underrepresented young girls at that age,” she says, “because a lot of my peers and my mentors did not have those types of opportunities where you could go to a camp and learn about science and technology and engineering from black, female engineers. So, it was an honor to be able to lead that workshop and work directly with those young women.”

Virginia Booth Womack, former interim executive director of NSBE, recruited Trina for the leadership role. Virginia, who is director of the Minority Engineering Program at Purdue, had seen Trina in action at similar NSBE-organized camps.

“Trina is thorough. She has a broad band of knowledge around what’s essential when you’re dealing with young people,” Virginia says. “Trina’s background in engineering education just brings a different angle of focus, not only to the training piece for the other students who are serving as mentors, but in communicating with the Steve Harvey team the importance of what we’re doing, because they’ll want to know why our mentoring program is important.”

She says the foundation’s on-site team was impressed with how the workshop ran so smoothly and the impact it had on the girls, and said it “raised the bar” on what they can expect from NSBE. Virginia credits the success to Trina and her passion for affecting the lives of young people in a positive way.

“There’s a passion for giving back that came from somewhere. Either someone did it for Trina or she wished someone had. It’s not haphazard involvement. It’s very focused.”

Trina thinks everyone should invest time into getting young children and teens exposed to STEM education. She is happy to be doing her part for the next generation of scientists and engineers, especially as a George Washington Carver fellow at Purdue.

“If it wasn’t for Purdue, former President Dr. Martin Jischke and the College of Engineering,” Trina says, “I don’t think these doors would have been open. Engineering education, in particular, allows me to still have that social impact that I may not be able to have in another technical program. I’m just really thankful for the opportunities that I have been given.”

PhD Program: ENE Explorer Fellows

Entrepreneurial attitudes, A.P. Calculus credit and First-Year Engineering (FYE) students' perceptions are among the issues engineering education graduate students are tackling during their first semester.

The seven Explorer Fellows teamed up and selected their topics from a range of questions administrators and faculty identified as being important to investigate, but not yet explored.

“The students get a chance to address a real and important research question in a relatively low-stress way,” says Dr. Stephen Hoffmann, assistant head for FYE.

The Fellows conducted background work and set the scope of their research, interacted with the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and data collection. They presented their early analysis work during the weekly ENE Research Seminar on Dec. 4.

The Fellows’ early research work also allows them to learn more about the School, the FYE program, and the discipline of engineering education. They also receive one semester of financial support from the School.

Dr. David Radcliffe, Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education, hopes this experience smooths the transition into the Ph.D. program.

“In a conventional graduate program in engineering, students enter with a good understanding of the discipline,” he says. “For the emerging discipline of engineering education, entering students do not necessarily have this same familiarity and background that enables them to know what rigorous research in engineering education entails.”

As part of their presentations, the groups outlined analysis that still needs to be done and reflected on the experience, so far.

“We came in thinking we were going to get our data right away, it was right there on the shelf, we were going to get it and go,” says graduate student Karen De Urquidi, “but it was much more difficult than that.”

“In doing the interviews, we found that we led interviewees,” admits graduate student Hector Rodriguez. “We’re trying to find ways not to do that.”

The three groups submitted abstracts of their work for the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) conference in June. All abstracts were accepted and the students are currently writing their conference paper submissions.

2014 Explorer Fellows (left to right) are Dina Verdin, Genisson Coutinho, Karen De Urquidi, Zahra Atiq, Todd Fernandez, Juan Ortega-Alvarez and Hector Rodriguez.


Fall 2014 Media Gallery

ENGR 131 Final Design Project: an educational toy or activity promoting healthy living or sustainability - VIDEO

ENGR 131 Final Design Project: create a display about a musical instrument - VIDEO

Multidisciplinary Engineering student profile - VIDEO

Dr. Tamara Moore on the Science & Technology in Society (STS) "Young Leaders Program" in Kyoto, Japan - AUDIO

Women in ENGR 141Men in ENGRWalking around classStudents working at their table
First-Year Engineering students went right to work on the first day of classes.

The College of Engineering's Advisory Council toured INSPIRE's new space in Wang Hall.

AY in AFLEremenko's class

Author Andrew Yang (left) tours the Artisan & Fabrication Lab. Google's Paul Eremenko (right) talks to First-Year Engineering students about designing complex systems.

Students listening to the lectureWide shot of students in the lecture hall

Weekly research seminars (ENE 690) this fall covered various engineering education topics, such as evaluating team members, strategies for data management and engineering education in post-apartheid South Africa.

MDE BGRStudents at BGR

First-Year Engineering students learned more about the MDE and IDES degree programs at the College's open house during Boiler Gold Rush.

Fall 2014 Honors & Awards

Dr. Monica Cardella was named a Purdue Teaching Academy Fellow.

Dr. Krishna Madhavan received an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Science Foundation via Arizona State University as co-Principal Investigator. The title of the project is “NCCLC: Life cycle of nano-materials (LCNano)," which is designed to help with the cyber-environment and associated analytics.

Dr. Phillip Wankat successfully led ABET re-accreditation of our B.S. in Multidisciplinary Engineering, with assistance from Dr. Stephen Hoffman.

Dr. Matthew Ohland, project director for CATME SMARTER Teamwork, received an award from the National Science Foundation to use the system as both an intervention and to collect outcomes to study how students learn team skills. Dr. Daniel Ferguson is among the co-PIs on the project.

Dr. Brent Jesiek, Principal Investigator, and Dr. Carla Zoltowski co-PI (ENE PhD 2010) received an award from the National Science Foundation for "Collaborative Research: Foundations of Social and Ethical Responsibility Among Undergraduate Engineering Students: Comparing Across Time, Institutions, and Interventions" - a joint project with Colorado School of Mines, Brigham Young University, and Arizona State University.

Dr. David Radcliffe was named a Fellow of SEFI, Société Européenne pour la Formation des Ingénieurs (European Society of Engineering Education).

Dr. Tamara Moore was selected to represent the United States at the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Young Leaders' Program in Kyoto, Japan.

Graduate students Mel Chua, Cole Joslyn and Julia Thompson received the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Liberal Education/Engineering & Society Division's Best Paper Award for "Engineering and Engineering Education as Spiritual Vocations."

Connect with the School of Engineering Education:




     Interdisciplinary Engineering Studies & Multidisciplinary Engineering Alumni

     ENE PhD Alumni

Year-End Giving to Engineering Education

Many of our alumni and friends make their annual gifts at the end of the year. This year, Purdue has a new and improved way to make on-line gifts. Follow this link to support one of our programs in Engineering Education.

If you have questions please contact Becky Fry, Director of Development, 765-494-0023 or at