Dr. David Radcliffe

David F. Radcliffe

School of Engineering Education

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN



Dr. Radcliffe has retired from Purdue and is now the Kamyar Haghighi Head of Engineering Education and Epistemology Professor Emeritus of Engineering Education. Dr. Radcliffe received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Queensland, and a Ph.D. in bioengineering from Strathclyde University in Scotland.

His research focuses on the nature of engineering as a profession; how it is perceived and practiced, how it is learned especially outside the classroom, and how an engineering identity is shaped. Within this overall theme he has conducted research on the practice of engineering design thinking in a variety of industry settings, the creation and sharing of design knowledge in large and small firms with an emphasis on design for sustainability, engineering education as a complex system, the design and evaluation of learning environments, and on ways to foster distributed communities of research practice in engineering education. 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 joined the School of Engineering Education as a Professor in August 2007. He was appointed Associate Head for the School of Engineering Education in January 2009 and Interim Head in July 2009. The School of Engineering Education (ENE) comprises of twenty-two faculty, seven courtesy faculty, several visiting scholars; eight academic counselors who advise almost 2500 first-year engineering students; and fifteen professional staff. His responsibilities include carrying out the vision and strategic plan for the school and the new discipline of engineering education, representing the school within the university and to government, professional societies, and private sector partners, providing leadership to and recruiting faculty and staff, and administration of the school’s budget and special programs. Dr Radcliffe is also very active in developing the field of engineering education research nationally and internationally including leadership in the ASEE Global Colloquia on Engineering Education.

Prior to joining Purdue, Dr. Radcliffe taught and researched at various universities in Australia, UK and USA (incl. the University of Queensland, Melbourne University, Adelaide University, Bath University and Stanford) and with industry (incl. Australian mining and manufacturing companies and Xerox PARC) with a focus on design research, educational innovation, building strategic, interdisciplinary partnerships and capacity building.

In 1995, Dr. Radcliffe was named the Inaugural National Teaching Fellow in Australia and in 1999 was the first Australian Boeing Welliver Fellow.  From 1999 to 2007, Dr Radcliffe established and led three strategic industry-university partnerships involving the University of Queensland and Thiess (an international construction and infrastructure company), Boeing Australia and Hatch (multinational Canadian process engineering consultant). This involved him sharing his time equally between industry and university on a day-by-day basis over eight years. In 2000, he founded the Catalyst Research Center for Society and Technology, with the objective of creating innovative, sustainable solutions to complex social and technological challenges facing industry and the community through the fusion of social science and engineering perspectives.

From 1999-2004, he was principal investigator on the Australasian Virtual Engineering Library project and he has initiated the development of the Sustainability Knowledge Network. Between 2005 and 2007, Dr Radcliffe was principal investigator on the Advanced Engineering Capability Network, funded by the Collaboration and Structural Reform Fund of the Australian government. He co-led the Next Generation Learning Spaces project (2006-2008) to develop a framework for the multidisciplinary design and evaluation of all types of learning spaces in higher education institutions.

He is a Fellow, Engineers Australia; a Chartered Professional Engineer, a Registered Professional Engineer, Queensland; Member, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE); Past President, Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AaeE).