Alice L. Pawley


Alice L. Pawley is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Program and the Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University.

Prof. Pawley’s goal through her work at Purdue is to help people, including the engineering education profession, develop a vision of engineering education as more inclusive, engaged, and socially just. To do this, she believes in saying what needs to be said – to colleagues, students, and the profession as a whole. She sees community as her religion in how she mentors graduate students, engages with colleagues in her local department, seeks collaborations with colleagues across disciplines and across the country, and engages actively as a citizen in local, state, and national progressive politics.  She believes that waste – of anything, including time, energy, effort, or materials – is a form a disrespect to oneself and others, and strives to use organizational systems to better focus both her and her students’ attention on doing this important work together. She also believes that noticing daily details about people’s lives honours us all as human beings, and shows this through getting curious about students and colleagues’ lives to recognize the realities everyone is dealing with as we come to do our work together.  It is through these core values that Dr. Pawley tries to embody and advance a more inclusive, engaged, and socially just vision of engineering education.

She grew up in south-central Wisconsin, and went to school in England, France, Canada, and the US. Both of her parents were born in England, and her family lives in Wisconsin, British Columbia, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and the U.K. She now lives in Indiana. Her parents and sister are all faculty members at universities, and her brother is a nurse.  Her husband also works at Purdue in the School of Engineering Education.  She has two kids, 6 and 9, who were e-Learning at home in 2020-21, and are blessedly back in school this year.

Dr. Pawley obtained a Bachelors of Engineering degree in Chemical Engineering at McGill University, graduating with distinction in 2000.  She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for graduate studies, completing a Master’s of Science degree in Industrial Engineering in 2003 (thesis title: “A Class of Their Own: Impact of a Supplementary Curriculum for Developing Critical Thinking about “Women in Engineering” in First-Year Women Engineering Students”).  She completed her Ph.D in Industrial and Systems Engineering, with a minor in women’s studies, in 2007; her dissertation was titled “Where do you draw the line? A study of academic engineers negotiating the boundaries of engineering.”

Dr. Pawley worked for several years (first as an undergrad and then a graduate student) in the Engineering Learning Center and the Wisconsin Engineering Education Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with teaching assistants teaching engineering learning community courses to first-year engineering students.  She helped develop the LINKS program, part of the NSF-funded Foundation Coalition, and helped start and develop the UW-Madison College Fellows Program, conducted in the late 1990s.

With the funding of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), an NSF-funded Engineering Education Center, Dr. Pawley moved her work to participate in the development of the Delta Program, the UW-Madison manifestation of CIRTL.  She contributed to the development of the CIRTL pillars, teaching-as-research, learning community, and learning-through-diversity.  She helped design and implement the Expeditions in Learning program, and developed, co-taught, and evaluated the Diversity in the College Classroom course.

At Purdue, she was co-PI of Purdue’s ADVANCE program from 2008-2014, focusing on the underrepresentation of women in STEM faculty positions. She received a CAREER award in 2010 and a PECASE award in 2012 for her project researching the stories of undergraduate engineering women and men of color and white women. She has been author or co-author on papers receiving ASEE-ERM’s best paper award, the AAEE Best Paper Award, the Benjamin Dasher award, and co-authored the paper nominated by the ASEE Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for ASEE Best PIC Paper for 2018.  She has received ASEE-ERM’s best paper award for her CAREER research, and the Denice Denton Emerging Leader award from the Anita Borg Institute, both in 2013. More recently, she received her school’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, the Award for Leadership, and a 2019 award from the College of Engineering as an Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Engineering Graduate Students. In 2020 she won the Sterling Olmsted Award from the Liberal Education/Engineering and Society Division of ASEE. She is president of Purdue’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (2020-22). She helped found, fund, and grow the PEER Collaborative, a peer mentoring group of early career and recently tenured faculty and research staff primarily evaluated based on their engineering education research productivity.  She runs the Feminist Research in Engineering Education (FREE, formerly RIFE, group), whose diverse projects and group members are described on this website. She can be contacted by email at apawley@purdue.edu.

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