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History of the Department of Engineering and Science Education

The Department of Engineering and Science Education (ESED) was founded in August 2006 by the Dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, Esin Gulari. Dean Gulari who served on the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation had a deep appreciation of how Clemson could contribute to the emerging discipline of Engineering Education as well as take advantage of Clemson’s reputation for research in science education. At its founding, ESED included General Engineering, which is the freshman program for engineering majors. Ben Sill was appointed as the founding chair and two tenure-track faculty were hired.

Lisa Benson, currently an Associate Professor in ESED, was the first faculty member hired for ESED. She also holds a joint appointment in the Bioengineering Department. Krishna Madhaven who held a joint appointment in the School of Computing was also hired. Dr. Madhaven is currently a faculty member in Engineering Education at Purdue University.

The Certificate in Engineering and Science Education was approved in 2008 by the Board of Trustees and the first ESED classes were taught during the 2008 fall term. The first group of 15 students completed the certificate in spring 2010. In August 2008, Melanie Cooper, who is a well-known scholar in chemical education, was appointed interim chair of ESED. Three new faculty members also joined ESED that August. Zahra Hazari and Geoff Potvin held joint appointments with Mathematical Sciences. Drs. Hazari and Potvin are currently faculty members at Florida International University and continue to serve as adjunct faculty. Julie Martin, currently an Assistant Professor, holds a joint appointment in Materials Science and Engineering. Jeff Appling, currently Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Professor, joined ESED in August 2009.

Three ESED faculty members have been awarded CAREER grants from the National Science Foundation. Julie Martin won her award for “Influence of Social Capital on Under-Represented Engineering Students’ Academic and Career Decisions” in 2010. Also in 2010, Zahra Hazari received her award for “Changing the Landscape: Towards the Development of a Physics Identity in High School.” In 2011, Lisa Benson won a CAREER award for “Student Motivation and Learning in Engineering.”

In the spring of 2010, ESED was reorganized as a separate department and General Engineering was re-established as a department. In August 2011 the PhD in Engineering and Science Education was approved and the first students enrolled. Allison Godwin was the first student enrolled in the ESED PhD program and, in April 2012, was awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Allison and Adam Kirn were the first graduates from the PhD program in August 2014.