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Sheri D. Sheppard
Professor, Mechanical Engineering
Co-Director, Center for Design Research
The Burton J and Deedee McMurtry University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Clayman Institute Faculty Research Fellow, 2007-2008

Sheri D. Sheppard is a professor at Stanford University in the Design Group of Mechanical Engineering. She began her Stanford academic career in 1986. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design related classes she conducts research on weld fatigue and impact failures, fracture mechanics and applied finite element analysis. She is particularly concerned with the development of accessible engineering tools that allow designers to make more informed decisions regarding structural integrity. Sheppard also conducts research on the education of engineers, investigating questions regarding engineering thinking, how individuals learn to undertake engineering work, and how to increase the attractiveness of engineering careers to underserved populations.

Sheppard is currently co-PI on a 5-year long NSF Higher Education Center Grant (Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education). In this capacity she is leading (in collaboration with researchers at Colorado School of Mines, Howard University, University of Minnesota, and University of Washington) a longitudinal study of 160 students as they travel from their freshmen year of engineering studies through their senior year. This study (called the Academic Pathways Study) aims to explore developmental, cognitive and institutional factors that contribute to student persistence and success in engineering majors. Prior to this she was co-PI on a multi-university NSF grant that critically looked at engineering undergraduate curriculum (1988-1994) and as part of this she developed a pedagogy called mechanical dissection that has been adopted across the US. From 1998-2002 Professor Sheppard led 1-week long NSF sponsored summer workshops at Stanford for junior engineering from across the US on issues on teaching, learning and life balance. She recently completed a NSF project on the role of student peers is assessment of collaborative learning. Prof. Sheppard also serves as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Her responsibilities at the Foundation focus on leading a major investigation of engineering education in the United States. The study of engineering is part of a larger project at Carnegie that is investigating education in the professions--including law, teaching, medicine and the clergy--more generally.

Sheppard is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the ASEE Journal of Engineering Education (JEE), the President's Advisory Board of Olin College, MentorNet's SGER Advisory Group, the Program Review Committee of the Cambridge-MIT Institute, the External visiting Committee of the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech, and the National Advisory Board for the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Penn State. She is a co-guest editor (along with Barbara Olds and Jim Pellegrino) of a Special Edition of JEE on How People Learn Engineering, planned for 2008. She has held leadership positions in the Design Engineering Group of ASME and the Engineering Division of AAAS, and is currently serving as chair of Stanford's Faculty Senate (2006-2007). She is a fellow of ASME and AAAS.

In Print

  • Thinking about engineers: a glimpse of what we know about students leaving engineering and what we might do about it , February 4, 2004 Download file