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ENEws Spring 2013

ENE Tenth Anniversary: Save the Date!

10th anniversary logo

The School of Engineering Education turns ten years old on April 9, 2014—but keep an eye out for celebrations throughout the 2013-14 academic year. We'll keep you posted on a range of upcoming activities highlighting the school's history, accomplishments, and future.

Faculty: Five ENE Faculty Members Promoted

On April 5, Purdue's Board of Trustees approved the promotion of two ENE associate professors to full professor and the promotion of three assistant professors to associate professor with tenure.


Promoted to full professor:

Heidi Diefes-Dux

Dr. Heidi Diefes-Dux is a national leader in the research-based development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities in engineering education. Her work recasts the models and modeling perspective that originated in mathematics education and creates a strategic, scalable approach for addressing crucial goals in engineering education. In addition, Dr. Diefes-Dux has pursued research with ENE's Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) that provides a foundation for equipping teachers to incorporate engineering concepts into elementary school classrooms.


William Oakes

Dr. William Oakes' roles as an engineer, an educator, and the director of Purdue’s EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) programs compel a research agenda that encompasses such subjects as human-centered design, interdisciplinary teaming, leadership, ethical reasoning, diversity, retention, and faculty development. A co-recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard M. Gordon Prize (2005), Dr. Oakes has also received the Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service Learning (2006), the National Society of Professional Engineers Educational Excellence Award (2004), the American Society for Engineering Education's Chester F. Carlson Award for Innovation in Engineering Education (2012), and a number of teaching awards.

Both Dr. Diefes-Dux and Dr. Oakes were instrumental in envisioning and establishing the School of Engineering Education, including helping to re-imagine First-Year Engineering and to launch the doctoral program in engineering education.


Promoted to associate professor with tenure:

Monica CardellaRecipient of a 2011 NSF CAREER Award and the Journal of Engineering Education's Wickenden Award for best paper (2008), Dr. Monica Cardella conducts research in how children develop engineering thinking skills in informal learning environments, focusing primarily on engineering design and engineering mathematics. She also investigates the development of mathematical thinking and design skills at the undergraduate level.


Alice Pawley Committed to helping engineering develop as a more socially just profession in a global context, Dr. Alice Pawley creates new models for thinking about gender and race in the context of engineering education. A 2012 PECASE (Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers) recipient, she uses novel theoretical and methodological approaches in critical research that explores the persisting underrepresentation in engineering education of white women and of men and women of color. She also pursues research in environmental sustainability education.


An acadJohannes Strobelemic entrepreneur and pioneer in the emerging field of P-12 (preschool through high school) engineering, Dr. Johannes Strobel builds bridges between engineering education and the P-12 school system, focusing his research on learning design and how engineering can be most effectively translated into P-12 education. He is the director of ENE's Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE); the founding editor of the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER); and a co-recipient of the 2011 best-paper award from the International Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

This brings to ten (10) the number of ENE faculty promoted over the past three years; an outstanding achievement both for the individuals concerned and the school as a whole. Taken together with the outstanding results over the past nine years in gaining external funding and the success in growing our PhD program, this cumulative result in promotions marks a significant milestone in establishing engineering education as a recognized discipline of academic research in engineering. This has national and global significance.    

First-Year Engineering: Flipping the Lecture

Five years ago, with the launch of the Ideas to Innovation Learning Laboratory and accompanying new curriculum, our First-Year Engineering (FYE) program took a big step away from the traditional lecture-hall style of education (“Sleep 100”?) and toward a “studio mode” that emphasizes team-based, active and collaborative learning.

large lecture hall

Less of this...

As another step along that path, a team of faculty, staff, and graduate students has been hard at work over the past year planning and producing a series of online learning modules for the two-semester sequence “Transforming Ideas to Innovation.” The modules, introduced in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013, give FYE instructors the opportunity to “flip the lecture”—that is, to provide students instruction online, outside of class time, in order to devote more time in class to student activities and less to lecturing. (This approach is also known as "blended learning.")

Under the leadership of Eric Holloway, ENE managing director, the team developed a total of 45 modules (39 from scratch), including 11 Excel tutorials, 21 MATLAB tutorials, and conceptual modules on model-eliciting activities (3), data analysis (3), teaming (1), and design (6). The modules, ranging from about four to 20 minutes in length, were created through Adobe Captivate, utilizing text-to-voice capability that enables viewers to watch content on-screen while listening to narration scripted, and easily updated, by FYE authors.

First-year classroom ...and more of this

“Now,” says Holloway, “students come to class already knowing something about the material we’re going to cover, because they view the modules before class. Instructors and teaching assistants can ask, ‘What questions did you have? What concepts did you struggle with?’”

They can then move the students on to significant problem-solving work during class, says Heidi Diefes-Dux, engineering education professor and the course coordinator for ENGR 132, the second course in the two-semester sequence. “We’re taking advantage of technology that’s already out there to provide content in an engaging format,” she says. “Then students can hit the ground running in class.”

With the instructor, teaching assistant, and four peer (undergraduate) teachers circulating through a classroom of up to 30 four-member teams, class time becomes students’ golden opportunity to get help with a project or check their understanding of a concept. And for those students who want to watch the online modules again to brush up on, say, their MATLAB skills, that option is available 24/7.

First-year engineering student Michael Mapolaya describes the format as “a mix between actual and online classes and lectures.” He feels more prepared in class because he can grasp the material ahead of time. “I’ve never had a course like this before,” he says. “It’s certainly new and interesting. The modules get really helpful when I’m trying to figure out the basic structures and procedures for certain concepts and skills so that I don't have to scour the Internet for answers.”

With two semesters’ worth of modules just completed, the FYE instructional team isn’t resting on its laurels. Next up: looking for new technologies and approaches to improve content for next year.

First-Year Engineering: Ideas to Innovation Learning Laboratory Featured in 3D Printing Article

Rick Womack in ENE's i2i Learning Laboratory Rick Womack

Lafayette's Journal and Courier featured the lab and two staff members, Eric Holloway and Rick Womack, in its March 23 look at 3D printing on campus.

Interdisciplinary Engineering: Paul Cloyd and the Greening of Alcatraz

As Branch Chief for Design & Construction with the National Park Service, Paul Cloyd has taken on some pretty high-profile projects.

Paul Cloyd

Paul Cloyd

Working out of the Denver Service Center, the NPS's central planning, design, and construction management project office, the 1976 IDE alumnus (Architectural Engineering) and 2001 recipient of Purdue's Outstanding Interdisciplinary Engineering Alumni Award oversaw the relocation of the historic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and was a team member on the restoration of the Russian Bishop's House in Sitka, Alaska, and on the restoration of the St. Philomena Catholic Church in Hawaii's Kalaupapa Leprosy Settlement.

His latest project concerns one of the most notorious sites in the United States: Alcatraz Island, home, from 1934 to 1963, of the maximum-security Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary and now an NPS landmark that receives 1.4 million visitors a year. (The island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.)

“Alcatraz has run off diesel generators since the 1970s,” Cloyd says, “and that meant the fuel had to be shipped in. The National Park Service was concerned about the possibility of oil spills in the San Francisco Bay, along with the cost of the fuel.” Indeed, the 1,200-gallon-a-week supply of diesel generated electricity that cost about 76 cents per kilowatt-hour, or about six times the national average.

PV panels at Alcatraz

PV panels at Alcatraz

In 2010, with funding from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, Cloyd's team began coordinating work on a plan to install a solar-powered micro grid on the prison’s three-story cell house, as the island’s primary power source. In partnership with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab, the National Park Service designed a 305-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system consisting of 959 crystalline-silicon solar panels to power computers, phones, appliances, pumps, indoor and outdoor lighting, and a few large peaking loads, such as an elevator in the cell house and a lift at the dock. The PV array is attached to two 2,000-amp-hour battery strings (housed in the historic Quartermaster Warehouse) and an inverter plant, located in the powerhouse.

“We work closely with cultural resources staff and the state historic preservation officer to make sure that we’re not doing anything detrimental, either culturally or environmentally,” says Cloyd. To protect the island’s bird sanctuary and hatchery, NPS installed temporary screens along the cell house so that the birds couldn’t see, and thus be disrupted by, work on the installation. An earlier plan for a solar-powered system on the island was scotched, in part, because the PV system (if placed where intended) would have been visible from the prison exercise yard—a jarring anachronism for a site that famously incarcerated Prohibition-era gangsters like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelley.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

Fully implemented in 2012, the PV system is expected to produce nearly 400,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 337,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide a year, and has reduced the time the diesel generators run by about 60 percent. The drastic reduction in diesel use has meant much less corrosion of pipes and smokestacks and less pollution in the bay (although the new panels did attract more bird droppings than expected).

“The project has been very gratifying,” says Cloyd. “I can monitor the system from my computer. And it’s great to say that diesel generators—which used to run 24/7—are only needed as a backup now. That was our goal.”

Interdisciplinary Engineering: Outstanding Alumni Awards

OAA audienceDr. Phil Wankat, IDE head; Jones; Wells; Schmidt; and Dr. David Radcliffe, ENE head.

Stan Jones (BS IDE '73, Engineering Management), Eric J. Schmidt (BS IDE '76, Environmental Engineering), and Michael W. Wells (BS IDE '75, Pre-Law), three graduates of Interdisciplinary Engineering, received the School of Engineering Education's Outstanding Alumni Award on February 20, 2013.

Jones is president of Complete College America, Schmidt is corporate director of environmental engineering for RockTenn Corp., and Wells is president of REI Investments, Inc. Read about their accomplishments here.

Also recognized were Multidisciplinary and Interdisciplinary students, for academic achievement: Juniors Christopher Bosma (Global Humanitarian Aid Engineering) and Trenton Marshall (Acoustical Engineering), and seniors Chloe Morrical (Pre-Medical Engineering Studies) and Lourdes Urena (Integrated Engineering).

PhD Program: Introducing Engineering to Tibetan Children

In the Indian town of Selakui, some 400 6th through 12th graders are enrolled in a branch of the Tibet Children’s Village (TCV), a residential school system for Tibetan students in exile. Like its sister schools, TCV Selakui has a goal of ensuring each student a sound modern education and cultural identity.

Marisol Mercado Santiago Marisol Mercado Santiago

In 2012, equipped with an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and a longstanding interest in Buddhism, Marisol Mercado Santiago set out to bring the study of engineering to high school students enrolled in the school—and to explore how Tibetan culture and Buddhism influence the engineering thinking of Tibetans in exile.

A doctoral candidate in Purdue’s School of Engineering Education (ENE), Santiago developed a five-week introductory engineering course and gained approval from TCV Selakui to teach it as an extracurricular class. (All math and science courses in the school are taught in English.) “The goal was to provide students a general understanding of engineering and sustainability, to help them understand the connection between engineering and society, to offer them a hands-on design experience, and to have them reflect on how their values, beliefs, and identity as Tibetans influence their practice of engineering design,” she says.

As the 33 students in Santiago’s class learned basic concepts of engineering—including structural engineering, product design, sustainability, and energy technologies—they developed ideas for design projects aimed at bettering their school environment, following an engineering design model that Santiago based on Buddhism’s four noble truths:

  • The truth of suffering, translated as “Identify a need (problem) in your school”
  • The causes of suffering, translated as “What are the causes and conditions of this problem?”
  • The cessation of suffering, translated as “Plan: What do we need to do to address the problem?”
  • The path to the cessation of suffering, translated as “What is our design solution to help solve the problem?”

Design projects covered a range of solutions, which the student teams eventually demonstrated in the school’s auditorium for the entire student body:

  • a bell ringer mechanism to mark class periods
  • a portable (foldable) cart to move grasses across campus
  • a rat trap
  • garbage bin repair
  • a load carrier
  • a model of a garbage incinerator
  • a device for catching dogs
  • a hydro-powered reading light

Santiago cites the load carrier as an example of the cultural relevance of these projects. “The students at TCV Selakui are teamed in groups to perform service for the school,” she says. “That’s a way of putting ‘others before self.’ The team working on the load carrier wanted to develop that product to help children in these groups move sacks of rice and vegetables from the school’s canteen to their living quarters, where their meals are prepared.”

To further place engineering design in a meaningful context, Santiago supplemented the curriculum with photos and information gathered during her visits to Tibetan communities in the area. “I visited a metal-working factory that is owned by a Tibetan, where they make traditional instruments used in Buddhist ceremonies,” she says. “I also went to the Tibetan noodle factory that manufactures the noodles that the students consume in the school.”

Santiago with her students Santiago with her students

Her fieldwork completed, Santiago is now back on campus analyzing her data, which she collected as a participant observer (and with the aid of a teaching assistant) through interviews, videos, photos, and field notes. “I’m going through the data to identify best practices and to understand how students are connecting Buddhist values and cultural beliefs,” she says. The work touches on many themes in the School of Engineering Education’s overall research profile, including diversity, precollege education, design thinking, global engineering, teaming, and experiential learning.

Santiago sees cultural approaches to teamwork and conflict resolution, along with qualities like patience and perseverance, factoring into how Tibetan students experience engineering. And, she says, like Tibetans, many other groups value the collective more than the individual, so assigning community-based design projects is an educational approach that may be constructive for other student populations as well.

As for the Tibetan students themselves, says Santiago, “their political situation permeates everything in their lives, including engineering education. I hope that this research project contributes to the Tibetan people’s efforts in culturally responsive education.”

Challenge Match: Your Opportunity to Support Graduate Students in Engineering Education

Purdue has announced a challenge match utilizing $1.3M in matching funds to create endowments that support graduate education. The fund will match dollar for dollar every gift of $50,000 or more.

Professor with graduate student Professor with graduate student

In the School of Engineering Education, we're eager to strengthen support for our graduate students through this challenge. So we have created a Engineering Education Exploration Fellowship scheme that will give students entering our PhD program an opportunity to explore and become familiar this brand-new field—who we are and what we do—before committing to an academic advisor. (In the past students were matched with their advisor before coming to campus.) The one-semester fellowships, awarded on merit and administered as assistantships, will enable students to develop understanding about the nature of the research work in engineering education and possible career pathways. 

Gifts must be new commitments and can be in the form of cash or appreciated assets that may be pledged over a period of up to five years. Since the matching funds are not restricted, the donor(s) will have sole rights to name the associated endowment as they wish—including in memory or in honor of another individual.

This fund will match all gifts dollar for dollar until all of the matching gift money has been utilized. Funds can be directed in general to graduate education or more specifically to areas such as fellowships, assistantships, and travel awards, as specified by the donor. These matching opportunities are available across the university on a first-come, first-served basis. Distributions of matching funds will take place once the pledge is paid in full. Note: Endowed funds, such as this matching gift fund, remain intact in perpetuity. A portion of the earnings is reinvested each year, so inflation does not degrade the endowment principal.  

For more information on this matching opportunity, please contact Becky Fry, Director of Development, at (765) 496-9519 or

Honors and Awards

A round-up of faculty and student awards.

Dr. Monica Cox: Purdue Black Graduate Student Association's Engagement Award. The award honors those who have made a significant contribution to the recruitment and retention of African American graduate students at Purdue University.

Dr. Krishna Madhavan: Co-principal investigator on the five-year, $15M NSF-funded grant Network for Computational Nanotechnology Cyber Platform. Drs. Heidi Diefes-Dux and Bill Oakes are senior personnel on the grant.

Dr. William Oakes: A. A. Potter Teaching Excellence Award (for the third time) as the best teacher in the College of Engineering. He also received the 2012-13 Learning Community Advocate Award for his leadership of the EPICS Learning Community.

Dr. Senay Purzer: Successfully petitioned for the creation of a new Research Interest Group focusing on Engineering Education for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching.

Michael Fosmire and Dr. David Radcliffe: 2012 ASEE Best Paper Award for “Knowledge-enabled Engineering Design: Toward an Integrated Model”

Kacey Beddoes, Dr. Alice Pawley, and Dina Banerjee: Best paper award at the 2012 Australasian Association of Engineering Education Conference for "Gendered Facets of Faculty Careers and Challenges to Engineering Education as an Inclusive Profession."

Joi-Lynn Mondisa: First place in the Social and Behavioral Sciences subject area (graduate category) at the Emerging Researchers National Conference. Her poster was titled "Differences in the Perceptions of Social Community by Engineering Undergraduate and Graduate Students."