Gary Steffen joined the faculty of Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW), formally known as Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), in 1999 after spending a decade in laboratory facility management and operating his consulting firm. He spent 10 years serving in academic leadership roles as an engineering technology department head, prior to his naming as the first Director of the School of Polytechnic at PFW in 2018. His subsequent dual appointments occurred in 2022 after being selected as the Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science.
Steffen shares his passion for teaching through lively classroom discussions, service on various teaching committees, and as the campus representative to ASEE. He has received recognition for his teaching, including the PFW ETCS Excellence in Teaching Award, the Indiana Council for Continuing Education Faculty Member of the Year Award, and the ASEE Frederick J. Berger Award, recognizing exemplary contributions in engineering technology education. His active collaboration with industry in his research interest areas of cybersecurity and student success, has led to multiple successful projects including most recently, the Don Wood Foundation grant.
Steffen has been actively involved with ASEE for 20 years. At the section level, he initiated the first joint section conference between the Illinois-Indiana and North Central sections, serving as Conference Chair for both the 2006 and 2015 Illinois-Indiana conferences. He was recognized with both the Illinois-Indiana Service Award, for his contribution to the section as past chair, and as outstanding campus representative.
Nationally, Steffen served on the ASEE Board of Directors as the Council of Sections, Zone II Chair, which provided him opportunity to assist in organizing and co-chairing the 2017 Zone II Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In his subsequent position as ASEE Vice President of Member Affairs, he undertook activities to revitalize connection to our campus representatives. His memberships included the ASEE Executive Committee, Long-Range Planning Committee, Nominating Committee, Chair of the Campus Representatives Taskforce, and he serves as a Standing Member of the Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI).
Steffen’s ongoing ASEE leadership affiliations include chairing the Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology Department Head Association (ECETDHA), serving as a Director of the Engineering Technology Council (ETC) and as a Delegate Member of CDEI. His former leadership roles have included chairing the Membership Data Taskforce, the Isadore T. Davis Award, the Zone II Paper award, ASEE National Outstanding Teaching Award, and the ASEE Data taskforce committees.
Steffen was awarded a B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology and A.S. in Organizational Leadership from IPFW, an M.S. in Computer Science from Ball State, and an Information Assurance and Security graduate certificate from Purdue University. Steffen further provides a voice for quality engineering
education through his participation in the IEEE University Resource Committee (URC) and Committee on Engineering Technology Accreditation Activities (CETAA), along with being a Program Evaluator for ABET.
Growing up on a small farm in northeast Indiana as a first-generation college student, I never realized the opportunity and community that my profession might provide. From the moment I received my first at-home electronics experimentation kit to those words of encouragement from my father saying, “Go to college! You can always come back and farm,” my path was launched, or some say fated, to do what I do. I am an educator who is appreciative of the opportunities provided to me, and I hope to contribute to inspiring the next generation of engineering students and professionals.
It has been my honor to be a spectator, participant, and leader within ASEE. Attending my first conference in 2002 I remember sitting silently as an eager onlooker, soaking in new methods of pedagogy. At later conferences, I engaged in impromptu hallway conversations following the moderation or participation in a paper session. It was from these intimate hallway exchanges with colleagues, many of whom I now consider friends and mentors, that I was encouraged to seek leadership opportunities. All these roles have been fulfilling, and I’ve discovered it is our membership participation that makes ASEE distinctively special.
I have been fortunate to serve at multiple levels within our organization offering me a broad perspective of views and responsibilities. Each position that you have elected me to hold has deepened my insight of ASEE along with providing a clearer understanding of the membership’s expectations. As an institutional representative and section chair, I experienced the tightknit community of regional partners and as the Zone II chair, the uniqueness of our geographical regions. Serving as your Vice President of Member Affairs, I acted on your behalf to improve member services, initiated discussions to strengthen bonds with our campus representatives, and served on the executive committee. My leadership roles in both the Engineering Technology Council (ETC) and on the Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI) introduced me to likeminded, authentic leaders, committed to achieving an inclusive and fair environment for all.
Throughout the 129-year history of ASEE, our organization has faced multiple challenges that were overcome by working together. Today, we face financial trials that we must collectively collaborate to transcend. As your President-Elect, I would work with the current board and ASEE headquarters to support ongoing restorative initiatives while providing my own stewardship approach and perspective. My focus would be strengthening core services to the membership, streamlining where necessary, ensuring essential resources to staff, and guaranteeing a robust, transparent, financial system that is judiciously available to external review. Importantly, I would work to restore the working accounts (BASS) for our divisions, councils, and sections so they can continue their valuable and unique contributions to our Society.
My participation within our Society has helped shape my career as an administrator and educator. I am proud to call myself an ASEE member, and humbled to be your nominee for President-Elect. Working together, we can uphold our values, achieve our mission, and continue moving forward.