IDEEAS Lab Improving Decisions in Engineering Education Agents and Systems

Dr. Katz Bio


PhD in Engineering Education, Purdue University

MEng in Environmental Engineering, Texas A&M University

BS in Chemical Engineering, Tulane University

Short Narrative Bio

Dr. Katz is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He leads the Improving Decisions in Engineering Education Agents and Systems (IDEEAS) Lab. In order to make this slightly less bizarre, I am going to stop the third person narrative, be realistic, and switch to first person.

I completed my PhD in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University in spring of 2019. I was there for two years after having actually started my doctoral studies at Virginia Tech in Fall 2015. My advisor was Dr. Donna Riley, so when she moved to Purdue to lead the School of Engineering Education there I moved along with her. I was fortunate enough to be supported by an NSF graduate research fellowship, which made the transition a little more feasible since that funding tends to be tied to the student fellow rather than their particular institution of study. For that project (and my dissertation), I studied engineering faculty member mental models of engineering ethics education. I had started graduate school interested in student moral development, but within the first month of the program realized that if faculty members do not change then any sweet research I did on students may not amount to anything. Consequently, I switched to studying faculty members. These days I tend to have an interest in both faculty members and students and go wherever the research problem suggests.

Before starting starting my doctoral work in engineering education, I bounced around a little more than some people. For example, I taught physics (AP Physics I, AP Physics C Mechanics and E&M) at a high school in Dallas, Texas for a couple of years. Before that, I worked as an environmental engineer in Research Triangle Park, NC helping research and write air pollution regulations. That was preceded by a short stint in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC where I was studying health effects of inhalation exposure to small particles in exhaust gas. Of course, I was interested in that from my master’s degree in environmental engineering at Texas A&M University, where I focused more on water pollution and epigenetic effects of exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds.

I probably should have known it would be a winding road when I started my undergraduate studies at Tulane Unviersity in New Orleans with the plan of studying civil engineering. That was in 2005, four days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. After the hurricane, the university cut all of its engineering programs except biomedical engineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering. I ended up studying chemical engineering, but I did so with a heightened awareness of the ways engineering (and its potential failures) can affect entire communities.


For some of the lab’s publications, see Publication List