Monica Cardella

Director, INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering
Mailing Addresses
WANG 4543
Office: WANG 4543
Phone: (765) 496-1206
Fax: (765) 494-5819


Monica’s STEM journey began with her love for patterns as a child and her love for playing with science the Exploratorium. She also worked on math proofs during informal "kitchen conversations" with her dad. As an undergraduate she majored in mathematics and minored in English. She then spent time teaching physical education to preschoolers, substitute teaching math and science at a middle school, tutoring high students and adults in English as a Second Language, and tutoring technical college students in math and ESL as part of the AmeriCorps program.

She is married to Philip who is President of the Board of Imagination Station and has two daughters that keep her very involved in Girl Scouts.

She is committed to pursuing and promoting racial justice, equity, and dignity but recognizes she still has much to learn.


Cupertino, California, USA


Ph.D., Industrial Engineering, University of Washington
M.S., Industrial Engineering, University of Washington
B.S., Mathematics, University of Puget Sound

Research Interests

Monica’s research and teaching interests focus on engineering design, mathematical thinking, and computational thinking across formal and informal settings. She is particularly interested in human-centered approaches to design. Monica is also interested in what we can learn from parents and families about the ways that they support learning and engagement in engineering and other STEM activities.

She has investigated this through studies of practicing professionals, undergraduate students and educators, middle school students, elementary school teachers and students, and children and families. This work is done in partnership, most recently with colleagues from Purdue, Imagination Station of Lafayette, the National Society for Black Engineers, TERC, University of Iowa, University of Notre Dame, University of Washington, Virginia Tech, and several elementary schools.

Selected Publications

Ehsan, Hoda, Abeera P. Rehmat, & Monica E. Cardella, “Computational thinking embedded in engineering design: capturing computational thinking of children in an informal engineering design activity,” International Journal of Technology and Design Education (2020).

Trina Fletcher, Monique Ross, DeLean Tolbert, James Holly, Monica Cardella, Allison Godwin, and Jennifer DeBoer “Ignored Potential A Collaborative Roadmap For Increasing African American Women In Engineering” written for the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers, and the Women in Engineering ProActive Network, published 2017.

Purzer, Şenay, Johannes Strobel and Monica E. Cardella (Eds.) Engineering in Pre-College Settings: Research, Policy and Practices, Purdue University Press, 2014.

Atman, Cynthia J., Robin S. Adams, Monica E. Cardella, Jennifer Turns, Susan Mosborg, and Jason Saleem, “Engineering Design Processes: A Comparison of Students and Expert Practitioners”, the Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 96, No. 4, 2007, p. 359-379.

Cardella, Monica E. “Which Mathematics Should We Teach Engineering Students? An Empirically-Grounded Case for Mathematical Thinking” Teaching Mathematics and its Applications, Vol 27, No. 3, 2008, p. 150-159.

Awards, Honors, Achievements, & Memberships

  • Fellow, American Society for Engineering Education, inducted June 2020
  • American Society for Engineering Education 2019 President’s Award for the Engineering Gift Guide
  • Distinguished Service Award, American Society for Engineering Education Educational Research and Methods Division, 2019
  • Best Diversity Paper Award, American Society for Engineering Education Pre-College Division (and Finalist for the Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Diversity Best Paper Award): “Investigating Children with Autism’s Engagement in Engineering Practices: Problem Scoping”, 2019
  • Design Studies Award for the best paper published in 2018 in Design Studies: “Timescales and Ideaspace: an Examination of Idea Generation in Design Practice”
  • Fellow, Big Ten Academic Leadership Program, 2018-2019
  • School of Engineering Education Graduate Student Mentoring Award, 2018
  • ELATE Fellow in the Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering program, 2015
  • Purdue University Teaching Academy, 2014
  • Purdue University’s College of Engineering Staff Awards of Excellence “Team Award” for First-Year Engineering Course Development, 2013
  • National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 2011
  • Purdue University’s College of Engineering Faculty Awards of Excellence “Team Award” for INSPIRE, 2011
  • Best Paper, Journal of Engineering Education, 2007
  • New Faculty Fellow, American Society for Engineering Education, 2007
  • PEER Fellow, the NAE's Center for the Advancement of Scholarship in Engineering Education, 2006-2007
  • Apprentice Faculty Grant Award, American Society for Engineering Education, 2006.
  • American Society for Engineering Education, Member
  • American Educational Research Association, Member
  • The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Member
  • The Institute for Industrial Engineers, Member
  • Alpha Pi Mu, Member


  • Program Director, Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, National Science Foundation, 2019-present
  • Editor, Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER), 2016-2019
  • Chair of the ASEE Educational Research and Methods Division, 2015-2017
  • Program Chair, Informal Learning Environments Research SIG, AERA, 2015-2017
  • Program Chair (ERM), Frontiers in Education Conference, 2013-2014
  • Secretary/Treasurer, ASEE K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Education Division, 2012-2014
  • Member-at-Large, Executive Board, ASEE K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Education Division, 2011-2012
  • Co-Chair of the P-12 Engineering and Design Education Research Summit, 2010
  • NAE/CASEE Postdoctoral Engineering Education Researcher, 2006-2007

Fun Facts

I love trying new food and enjoy good cappuccinos. I studied French & Spanish in high school, continued learning Spanish in college, and Italian in graduate school. I can play a few songs on the acoustic guitar and piano, and occasionally write poetry. I love to dance but am not at all an expert. Some of the other careers I considered: interior designer, real estate agent, pastry chef, wedding coordinator, and high school teacher.