Mel Chua

Mel ChuaWhat is your research?

 I take radical transparency techniques from open communities (the hacker/maker/open source world) and bring them into engineering academia. My dissertation is doing that for curriculum revisions. I also have a couple older projects and side projects — working with professors who are getting their students involved in open source projects (the Teaching Open Source group), teaching engineering to audiology students and users of hearing technologies — and then all my side hobbies that have nothing to do with engineering education at all…

Do you have any recent publications? If so, where did you publish?

I did 2 FIE work-in-progress papers this fall — one on the Changemakers project with Robin, Joi, Junaid, and others (looking at how STEM practitioners who’ve been big change agents in their field learn how to become change agents) and another on Teaching Open Source and how faculty overcome fears of changing their practice when they adopt teaching styles that involve giving up classroom control.

Do you have a dissertation topic?

Right now my dissertation looks like it’ll be about sharing stories about curriculum revisions across colleges so faculty members can learn from each others’ experiences. I have it as a 2-act play at

What research method (s) are you using? Any great references you would suggest?

I’m working on becoming a very, very good qualitative researcher — skilled interviewer, narrative analyst, grounded theorist… all that is pretty common amongst ENE folks, but I think my “weird” side comes out in that I’m also developing as a thinker in the poststructural (postmodern, deconstructivist, whatever you want to call it) paradigm — I’m very, very, very not post-positivist… I’m barely constructivist, with a tiny dash of critical theory — so if you want to talk about your data in mind-trippy, category-melting ways, come talk with me.

Name a fun thing you do to create a work-research-life balance?

I dance! This is something I only started in grad school, but I’m loving it — I performed with the Purdue Contemporary Dance Company last semester (and want to again next term — I’m skipping this semester because I’m driving to Ohio every week and that conflicts with rehearsal time) and am choreographing a blues/jazz piece for XWorks, which will be performed at the start of March… if you’re interested in dancing, especially if you’re new to dance, come talk with me and I would love to work with you on a piece! I’m still very much a beginner myself.

What is your favorite snack?

Soup. Pretty much any kind of soup, but chowder in particular. Hot soup. Mmmmmm. Now I’m hungry.


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