LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 1 March 2023 – Carla B. Zoltowski, Assistant Professor of Engineering Practice in the Elmore Family School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, has been chosen to receive the 2023 IEEE Computer Society (IEEE CS) Mary Kenneth Keller Computer Science and Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award. The award honors outstanding contributions to undergraduate education through teaching and service, and for helping to maintain interest in the field and make a statement about the importance with which the IEEE CS views undergraduate education. Zoltowski is being recognized “for leadership in developing applied multi-disciplinary team-learning opportunities for engineering students and for promoting professional development education, engineering ethics education and inclusive teaching and mentoring.”
As the inaugural director of the College of Engineering’s Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program in 2019, Zoltowski has developed and expanded the program enrollment by 210% in the past three years. The VIP Program provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to earn academic credit while engaging in authentic and extended research and design projects related to active research areas of Purdue faculty members and national, international, and industry-sponsored design challenges. Students can participate on interdisciplinary and vertically-integrated teams (first-year through seniors) with faculty and graduate student mentors for multiple semesters to address these real-world research and design challenges.
The innovative structure of VIP provides sufficient time, the compelling context, and meaningful mentoring needed for students to gain further expertise in their fields of study, to learn and practice professional skills, to make substantial contributions to real-world projects, and to become peer-leaders. In addition, VIP students learn to integrate and apply knowledge from coursework and develop critical professional skills through professional development opportunities, including oral and written communication, project management, independent learning, leadership, and information literacy. Because VIP projects address real problems and are long-term, students learn to: identify and connect their work with needs; account for social, economic, and ethical considerations; and think about the impact their work can have via dissemination and commercialization.
Prior to her joining ECE, Zoltowski was Co-Director of EPICS, where she was responsible for teaching design, developing design curriculum and assessment tools for the EPICS program. Zoltowski has directly mentored over 1000 undergraduate students on projects within VIP, EPICS, and Study Abroad. Her engineering education research impacts undergraduate education more broadly through her focus on the professional formation of engineers and how to make engineering, and specifically Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), more diverse and inclusive. Zoltowski’s engineering ethics research has provided insights on the ethical issues experienced by practicing engineers, student design teams, and undergraduate students and how they are impacted by their role and industry sector or program.
Zoltowski said she is honored and humbled to receive this award.
“I hope that my selection will raise awareness of the benefits of high-impact programs such as VIP and EPICS, which provide extended and authentic team-based research and design project experiences,” she said. “They also allow for the integrated development of both technical and professional knowledge and skills, as well as the development of an awareness of the cultural, social, and ethical context in which they are practicing.”
About the IEEE Computer Society
Through conferences, publications, and programs, the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE CS) sets the standard for the education and engagement that fuels global technological advancement. By bringing together engineers, scientists, researchers, and practitioners from all areas of computing and at every career phase, the IEEE CS enables new opportunities and empowers not only its members but also the greater industry. Visit computer.org for more information.