By Betsy Simon
Mar 15, 2019
Storytelling about an industry job has been one of Edie Wittenmyer’s greatest teaching tools over her nearly 28 years at Indiana State University.
And with 24 years of working in the technology industry, Wittenmyer knows what employers are looking for and she has shared that knowledge with every student she’s had in class.
“When I talk to students and share my stories, I tell them this is real life and what is expected because the demands are greater,” she said. “I try to convey to students how important their education is and that they can perform on the job. They might come into class thinking its basic knowledge they’re learning, but it’s really the foundation of what they need to know.”
After completing her bachelor’s degree at State in the late 80s, Wittenmyer entered the workforce at Pfizer Inc. in Terre Haute. But when it became clear that moving up in the company would require a master’s degree, she returned to Indiana State to pursue a master’s degree in the electronics and computer engineering technology department.
In the 90s, Wittenmyer began teaching night classes in the college and completed her master’s degree in 1998. She retired from Pfizer in December 2007, but her career at Indiana State began to take off when she began contract work in the college.
Wittenmyer served as an adjunct professor for the department of electronics and computer engineering technology while working on an NSF grant as a key programmer for online modules. She also taught courses for the Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising department.
For almost 10 years now, Wittenmyer has been teaching in the department of electronics and computer engineering technology, where she serves as a senior instructor. She is also working toward her PhD in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in technology education from State’s Bayh College of Education.
“I just want to make sure that the course delivery is there for my students. That it’s right and students are getting it,” she said about returning to school to earn her fourth degree. “I’ve always been a teacher, even at Pfizer, where I built and taught people how to run the systems that were built.”
At State, Wittenmyer teaches freshmen basic electronics, senior project management and graduate project management courses. She also teaches a course in gaming, digital animation and human-computer interaction as needed.
“I was hired to focus on IT but I have such a broad background, so they can move me around where they need me,” she said. “But no matter what I teach I try to make sure students get hands-on experience because they come first and I know this is what they’ll need to succeed.”
When Wittenmyer took over the project management class, she took it from lecture to hands-on, staring with project in a box that has included inventions from a robot for plumbers to find obstructions and to a team that constructed a coat that turns into a tent for the homeless.
Wittenmyer plans to take a team of Sycamores to the Purdue Ag Center for Ag Bot Challenge 2019, where they will compete with tech students from universities across the country and be judged by industry professionals.
“One thing I share with students is that if you have enough grit you can withstand anything, achieve anything. It takes passion, grit, determination and a growth mindset,” Wittenmyer said. “My grandma and mom told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, because in learning I would either be green and growing or I would be ripe and rotten thinking I already knew everything. I’ve lived that my entire life and I share that with my students because I believe that education is vitally important – it’s probably why I am on my fourth degree.”