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


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.


  • 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.