Interdisciplinary Engineering Colloquium

This annual colloquium, inspired by the School of Engineering Education's boundary-crossing Interdisciplinary Engineering (IDE) program, presents a topical subject and invites perspectives from engineering and a range of other fields, including the humanities, the social sciences, and education. Drawing speakers from our diverse alumni base, the event highlights the enormous potential of our school to work with industry. Our core research expertise is about engineering learning—expertise that is central to creating a more innovative technical workforce. We look forward to involving IDE alumni in this exciting work.



2012: Where Did I Leave My Chariot? The Curious History of Parking from Ancient Rome to Tomorrow's Megacities: A Sociotechnical Exploration of a Pervasive Cultural Artifact

colloquium invitation coverThe 2012 colloquium featured IDE alumna Mary Smith, Senior Vice President and Director of Parking Consulting, Walker Parking Consultants, and John Collier, Director of Campus Master Planning, Purdue University, in a wide-ranging discussion that touched on parking globally and at the local level. The panelists explored trends in parking design around the world, how the automobile and accompanying need for parking has changed Purdue’s physical environment over the years, and how new transportation systems and societal expectations will shape the future.


colloquium invitation cover

View video:

  • Presentation by Mary Smith, Senior Vice President and Director of Parking Consulting, Walker Parking Consultants: video timestamp = 0:16:10
  • Presentation by John Collier, Director of Campus Master Planning, Purdue University: video timestamp = 0:41:07
  • Q&A: video timestamp = 1:07:34



2011: It Takes a Team: Reflections at the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight

It Takes a Team artworkTitled "It Takes a Team: Reflections at the 50th Anniversary of Human Spaceflight," the 2011 colloquium featured IDE alumnus Gary Horlacher (NASA shuttle flight director) and Purdue history professor Michael Smith on the geopolitical and societal context and technological challenges of the Space Race in the early 1960s, the human and technological systems in the space shuttle era, and the lessons to be learned for the future exploration of space.  As moderator David Radcliffe, ENE's Kamyar Haghighi Head, noted, it truly took a team, exhibiting "engineering vision, political courage, and unity of national purpose" on both the American and Soviet sides, to embark on the adventure of human spaceflight.

The colloquium, inspired by ENE's boundary-crossing Interdisciplinary Engineering program, was co-hosted by Purdue's Colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts and took place, appropriately enough, in the atrium of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, where a replica of Gus Grissom's Apollo 1 command module is suspended from the ceiling.

View video:

  • 1961 video footage on Gagarin, Shepard, Grissom, Titov = 4:38
  • Dr. Michael Smith (Purdue professor of history) = 9:09
  • 1981-2011 shuttle-era video footage = 30:15
  • Gary Horlacher (NASA flight director) = 35:05
  • "Lessons Learned" + Q&A = 55:00

For more on the 1961 spaceflights of Gagarin, Shepard, Grissom, and Titov, see The Purdue Alumnus (July/Aug '11), page 34, "First Humans in Space."