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Fall 2009

Welcome to the Fall 2009 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. Many of you know that the School of Engineering Education (ENE) originated in 2004 as the combination of what was then the Department of Freshman Engineering and the Division of Interdisciplinary Engineering. Added to that was the world's first PhD program in engineering education and a research institute—INSPIRE—for the study of engineering learning and thinking in young 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

Founding Head Kamyar Haghighi Steps Down from Administrative Role; Endowment Established in His Honor

Five years after spearheading the creation of ENE as the first ever academic program devoted to engineering education, Dr. Kamyar Haghighi stepped down from his position as head, effective July 2009.

Service Marked by Outstanding Achievement

Dr. Kamyar HaghighiDr. Haghighi's achievement as ENE's foundational leader, and his research and professional accomplishments as a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, are recognized not only throughout Purdue but nationally as well. The American Society for Engineering Education bestowed its Chester F. Carlson Award for innovation in engineering education on Dr. Haghighi at its annual conference in June 2009, and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers honored him with its Distinguished Service Award this year. As Dr. Haghighi returns to his faculty role, ENE moves forward with a First-Year Engineering Program newly transformed to align with the "Purdue Engineer of 2020" paradigm, an Interdisciplinary Engineering program boasting an ABET-accredited Multidisciplinary Engineering major, a blossoming PhD program, and INSPIRE, which pursues ground-breaking research into how young students learn and are taught engineering concepts. ENE is now home to a critical mass of researchers whose scholarly work is guiding how Purdue and, eventually, other institutions educate engineering learners at every segment of the educational continuum.

Endowment Carries Vision Forward

ENE's fifth anniversary celebration in April concluded with the happy announcement that an endowment fund has been established in recognition of Dr. Haghighi, who "envisioned, championed and accomplished the founding of the world's first School of Engineering Education." The Kamyar Haghighi and Atossa Rahmanifar Endowment for Vision in Engineering Education was created with gifts and pledges from faculty and staff, and will benefit the School of Engineering Education.

ENE is preparing to launch an initiative to expand the size of the endowment to honor Dr. Haghighi’s contributions to Purdue and recognize his state-of-the-art application of finite element numerical solutions to engineering problems. Dr. Haghighi has distinguished himself as a force for change in the engineering community, and his leadership and vision are transforming engineering education both nationally and internationally. For more information on the endowment, please contact Becky Fry, Director of Development, School of Engineering Education, at, (765) 496-9519.

Head Search Under Way

Purdue's College of Engineering has launched a national search for the next head of ENE. The search will consider both external and internal candidates. Following university practice, the search committee consists of ENE faculty members from different ranks, undergraduate and graduate student representatives, staff member representatives, and alumni, plus faculty drawn from across the College of Engineering and other Colleges at Purdue.

Engineering Education letteringThe search committee is chaired by Dr. Katherine Banks, Bowen Engineering Head of Civil Engineering. The College expects that the new head will be in place before the 2010-11 academic year begins. Dr. David Radcliffe, Epistemology Professor of Engineering Education, is ENE's interim head.

Presidential Early Career Award, NSF CAREER Award, and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Recipients Named

A roundup of three prestigious awards recognizing ENE's research strengths.

  • Dr. Monica CoxDr. Monica Cox, Assistant Professor of Engineering Education, has been named a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to young researchers. Dr. Cox will receive the award from President Barack Obama during a fall ceremony at the White House.
  • Dr. Demetra EvangelouDr. Demetra Evangelou, Assistant Professor of Engineering Education, has received a five-year, $400,000 National Science Foundation CAREER Award for the study "Developmental Engineering: An Examination of Early Learning Experiences as Antecedents of Engineering Education"—bringing to three the number of CAREER Awards granted to ENE.
  • Michele StrutzDoctoral student Michele Strutz has received a three-year NSF Graduate Research Fellowship—the first ever awarded to an ENE student, and the first ever awarded in the area of engineering education—for the study "Influences on Low SES [Socioeconomic Status] Students' Decision to Purdue Engineering: A Qualitative Investigation."

Read more about Dr. Cox's award here.
Read more about Dr. Evangelou's research here. (82kb PDF)

ENE to Lead Education Initiatives for New National Earthquake Engineering Network

The National Science Foundation has awarded $105 million to a Purdue-led team to spearhead a center that will serve as headquarters for the operations of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, or NEES.

pavement split by earthquakeSubmitted through the Cyber Center in Purdue's Discovery Park, the grant spans five years and is the largest in the university's history. Purdue will connect 14 NEES research equipment sites and the earthquake engineering community through groundbreaking cyberinfrastructure, education, and outreach efforts. Purdue's center is expected to begin operations on October 1.

ENE assistant professor Sean Brophy and Thalia Anagnos of San Jose State University will co-lead the center's education, outreach, and training initiatives, which will use engineering education research to construct next-generation learning experiences that can be disseminated globally. A team of engineering educators and technology specialists will develop the NEES Academy, a state-of-the-art virtual institution for cyber-enabled learning. The Academy will enable preK-12 teachers to develop student interest in, and awareness of, science, mathematics, engineering, and technology and will support researchers to develop talent in their undergraduate and graduate students engaging in research.

Read here and view video here (2 min, 38 sec) for more information on NEES and the Purdue grant.

At the Five-Year Mark: Number of PhD Students, Alumni in Engineering Education Still Growing

Five years ago, when ENE launched the world's first doctoral program in engineering education, a handful of students—11, to be precise, including our first graduate, Tamara Moore—took the pioneering step to enroll.

ENE doctoral studentsWith the beginning of the Fall 2009 semester, ENE's doctoral program has 40 students, 13 of them new this year. Nine doctoral students have graduated from the program, and three more are finishing up administrative requirements on their way to becoming full-fledged alumni. Our graduates have found employment as professors, as post-doctoral researchers, and in the nonprofit sector.

Read about doctoral students Odesma Dalrymple and Shawn Jordan here and here.
Read about alumna Tamara Moore
here. See a complete list of our alumni here.

Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Learning Lab Opens at Full Scale

This fall more than 1,600 new, beginning first-year engineering students are starting their college careers at Purdue, and ENE's Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Learning Laboratory opens at full scale to immerse them—through a common curriculum—in engineering design concepts, teaming, engineering tools, information on engineering disciplines, and more.

Students in i2i Learning Lab(The lab opened in its pilot phase last year with first-year engineering honors students.)


IDE Grad at Work in Zambia

In the southern African country of Zambia, you can find the mighty Victoria Falls. Rural subsistence farmers. Wildebeests, elephants, and cheetahs. Upscale metropolitan shopping districts flanking fields of slums. And, taking it all in: Kai Van Horn, the first graduate of Purdue's integrated engineering concentration within the Multidisciplinary Engineering Program in the School of Engineering Education.

Kai Van HornVan Horn graduated in 2007, a transfer student from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University who, at Purdue, was able to create an academic plan of study in renewable energy engineering.




Read his profile here.

INSPIRE Summer Academy: How Many Pennies Can a Styrofoam Windmill Transport in a Bucket?

Forty-one elementary school teachers participating in the 2009 INSPIRE National Academy spent a week this past July learning how to integrate engineering thinking into their classrooms. Now in its fourth year, the National Academy places teachers side by side with ENE researchers to introduce what engineers do and how they solve problems—and what that means for educating young learners.

SchoolchildrenThe teachers, who traveled to Purdue from five school districts in New Mexico, Texas, Florida, and Indiana, got intensive hands-on experience with standards-based engineering curricula that convey the nature and practice of engineering. "We had teachers design a windmill and attach it to Styrofoam to see how many pennies a bucket could lift," says Dan Somerville, who supports INSPIRE's professional development programs and engagement activities. "They followed the design process 'ask-imagine-plan-create-improve'—one action for each of the five fingers on your hand, which their students will be able to remember. And they learned engineering and math concepts related to structures, materials, aerodynamics, and shapes [geometry]." Later, the teachers teamed up in pairs and designed their own activities to teach at a summer enrichment program for local youth. Participants concluded the week with engineering lesson plans in hand that they'll be able to incorporate into their existing curriculum.

An outgrowth of the National Academy, INSPIRE's "outreach academy" in the Arlington [Texas] Independent School District allows ENE researchers to use research instruments that shed light on young students' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about engineering and what engineers do. The data gathered informs K-6 engineering curriculum design and professional development. And to address the tongue-in-cheek "research" question "How many pennies can a Styrofoam windmill transport in a bucket?", Somerville has an answer. "The winning design from our National Academy teachers," he says, "well exceeded a hundred pennies."



Read about middle school teacher Holli Joyal's experience with INSPIRE here.


Congratulations to these ENE alumni on their recognition with the Engineering Education Outstanding Alumni Awards and to ENE faculty and graduate students for these honors at the national level.

Engineering Education Outstanding Alumni Awards

OAA recipientsHeld February 18, 2009, this ceremony honored five IDE alumni who have achieved singular accomplishments in their fields, whose successful careers are role models for our students, and whose achievements set an example for all ENE alumni. In future years, the award will recognize alumni who have interdisciplinary engineering, multidisciplinary engineering, or engineering education degrees. This year's recipients (from left to right as shown in photo at right):

Robert F. Sharpe, Jr.  • BSE, Interdisciplinary Engineering (Pre-Law), 1974: President, Commercial Foods, and Executive Vice President, External Affairs, ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Gary C. Horlacher • BSE, Interdisciplinary Engineering (Systems Engineering), 1989Flight Director, Johnson Space Center, NASA

Brian E. Farley • BSE, Interdisciplinary Engineering (Biomedical Engineering), 1979: President and CEO, VNUS Medical Technologies

Mary Spiess Smith • BSE, Interdisciplinary Engineering (Architectural Engineering), 1974: Senior Vice President and Director of Parking Consulting, Walker Parking Consultants

Harold M. Aberman • BSE, Interdisciplinary Engineering (Bioengineering), 1985: Global Scientific Program Director, Synthes, Inc.; President and Co-Founder, Applied Biological Concepts, Inc.



Faculty  •  National Honors (in addition to those mentioned elsewhere in this e-letter)

Dr. Bill Oakes • 2009 Award for Outstanding Service for Higher Education, National Society of Professional Engineers 

Dr. Matt Ohland • 2008 Helen Plants Award for Best Non-traditional Session, Frontiers in Education Conference; 2009 William Elgin Wickenden Award (best paper in Journal of Engineering Education). Read a news release on Dr. Ohland's research here.

Dr. Teri Reed-Rhoads • 2008 Educational Research and Methods Division Distinguished Service Award, American Society for Engineering Education



Graduate Students •  National Honors

Shawn Jordan  (with postdoctoral researcher Noemi Mendoza) • 2009 Apprentice Faculty Grant, Educational Research and Methods Division, American Society for Engineering Education

Alejandra Magana (with ENE faculty member Dr. Sean Brophy and Purdue education faculty member Dr. Timothy Newby) • 2009 Best Paper Award, 20th Annual SITE International Conference


Featuring a Homecoming open house and more.


September 24-25, 2009 • Joint meeting: Engineering Education Academic Advisory Council and Engineering Education Industrial Advisory Council

September 28-29, 2009 • Fall Open House for prospective PhD students

October 3, 2009 • HOMECOMING • Ideas to Innovation (i2i) Learning Lab Open House and Tours 

9–11 a.m.
Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, Lower Level
Design Studio, B098-2
Purdue University

Find out how this collaborative, experiential learning environment prepares students to contribute as 21st-century engineers! Children welcome.

• Design Studio
•  Innovation Studio
•  Prototyping Studio
•  Fabrication and Artisan Labs
•  Demonstration Studio
•  Electronics Studio

February 17, 2010 • Engineering Education Outstanding Alumni Awards

In Memoriam: Professor Dick McDowell

Professor Dick McDowell, longtime academic advisor and associate department head of Freshman Engineering (now First-Year Engineering), passed away in April 2009.

Prof. McDowellA tireless supporter and friend of the School of Engineering Education and first-year engineering students, Professor McDowell established the First-Year Best Counselor Award to recognize ENE's outstanding academic advisors. He himself advised several thousand first-year engineering students during his 39-year career at Purdue.

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

Please send any questions or comments about this e-letter, or requests to unsubscribe, to:

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.