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First Steps and Giant Leaps: Smoothing the Transition from Undergraduate Degree to Engineering Career

Event Date: April 26, 2019
Speaker: Panelists Sheri Sheppard, Edward Berger, Joyce Main, and Tim Luzader
Sponsor: College of Engineering and School of Engineering Education
Type: Panel Discussion - Purdue Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series
Time: 9:30 - 10:30 AM
Location: Herman & Heddy Kurz Atrium, Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering
Priority: No
School or Program: Engineering Education
College Calendar: Show
Prospective engineers are promised an opportunity to realize tangible improvements in the lives of others through design. Yet many recent engineering graduates report difficulty in connecting their college aspirations with early career trajectories.

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How can we better prepare engineers in undergraduate study and early career experiences to clarify direction, increase satisfaction, and deliver the promise of engineers making a difference for society? Four experts in STEM workforce development, engineering education, and career pathways of engineers will discuss the latest research on engineers’ transitions from education to careers.

Moderator: Donna Riley, Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education


  • Sheri D. Sheppard, Richard Weiland Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
  • Edward Berger, Associate Professor, School of Engineering Education and Mechanical Engineering
  • Joyce Main, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering Education
  • Tim Luzader, Executive Director, Purdue Center for Career Opportunities

Dr. Sheri D. Sheppard

Bio | Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., is the Richard Weiland Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design-related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on fracture mechanics and applied finite element analysis, and on how people become engineers. She is a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education and serves as an Associate Chair of Mechanical Engineering.

Dr. Sheppard was co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to form National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (EPICENTER; 2011-2016), and to form the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE), along with faculty at the University of Washington, Colorado School of Mines, and Howard University (2003-2009). She was co-principal investigator with Professor Larry Leifer on a multi-university NSF grant that was critically looking at engineering undergraduate curriculum (Synthesis), and from 1997-1999 served as co-director of Stanford’s Learning Lab.

Sheri is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). She was awarded the 2004 ASEE Chester F. Carlson Award in recognition of distinguished accomplishments in engineering education, and the 2005, 2008 and 2011 ASEE Wickenden Best Journal of Engineering Education Paper Award. In 2010 she was recognized with Stanford’s highest teaching recognition, the Walter J. Gores Award, and in 2014 was named U.S. Professor of the Year - Doctorial and Research Universities.

Before coming to Stanford University, she held several positions in the automotive industry, including senior research engineer at Ford Motor Company’s Scientific Research Lab. Dr. Sheppard’s graduate work was done at the University of Michigan.