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Juan David Ortega Alvarez, Ph.D.

Assistant Collegiate Professor
Juan Ortega Alvarez
333 Goodwin Hall
635 Prices Fork Rd
Blacksburg, VA 24061


Ph.D. in Engineering Education, Purdue University, 2019
M.S. in Process Engineering and Energy Technology, Hochschule Bremerhaven, 2006
B.S. in Process Engineering, Universidad EAFIT, 2001

Teaching/Courses Taught

  • Foundations of Engineering
  • Inorganic Processes
  • Separation Processes
  • Automatic Process Control
  • Process Simulation
  • Dynamic Process Simulation and Control

Teaching Statement

My experience as both an engineering student and an instructor, my time in the industry, and my academic training have shaped my current teaching philosophy, which rests on three equally important foundations: 1) authenticity, 2) feedback, and 3) respect. First, I define authenticity as providing students with the opportunity to experience learning in the context of application and confront real situations faced by practitioners. Secondly, I am committed to providing prompt and ample feedback to my students and using different assessment strategies to identify their individual struggles and strengths as well as my own as an instructor. Finally, I believe respect entails promoting courteous interactions as well as acknowledging students’ backgrounds and beliefs. Every student has a story to tell and my job is to promote a safe environment to share those stories and learn from them.


For several years after earning my engineering degree in 2001, my professional duties included working full-time as a process engineer at a chemical company and teaching engineering courses as an adjunct instructor. In 2009 I left a seven-year long career in industry—interrupted only by my time abroad earning a master’s in engineering—to become a full-time faculty member, mostly in pursuit of one goal: professional and personal fulfillment. To be sure, the most gratifying experience I have had in my career is participating in the intellectual development of students and earning their gratitude. Propelled by this motivation, I chose an academic life focused on quality engineering teaching, which ultimately led me to pursue a Ph.D degree in Engineering Education. Teaching engineering and scholarly exploring ways to excel at the job are my professional passions.

Research Interests

  • Simulation tools as a scaffold for teaching complex concepts
  • Learning automatic control in process engineering.
  • Teaching conceptions of engineering faculty.
  • The scholarship of teaching and learning to balance research and teaching.
  • Teaching – research nexus in engineering.

Awards & Honors

  • Bilsland Dissertation Fellowship, December 2017, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
  • School of Engineering Education Service Award, March 2017, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
  • Colciencias scholarship for Ph.D. studies abroad, Call 646 of 2014, Colombia. Periods covered: Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2016.
  • Colfuturo-DAAD scholarship for master’s studies in Germany. September 2004 to March 2006.

Professional Affiliations
ASEE Member since 2015

Selected Publications

Pitterson, N., Allendoerfer, C., Streveler, R. A., Ortega-Alvarez, J. D., & Smith, K. A. (2020). The importance of community in fostering change: A qualitative case study of the Rigorous Research in Engineering Education (RREE) program. Studies in Engineering Education, 1(1), pp. 20-37.

Ortega-Alvarez, J. D., Vieira, C., Sanchez-Pena, M., & Streveler, R. A. (2018). The Challenges of Assessing Transformative Learning: Lessons Learned from an Instructional Design Workshop for Colombian Engineering Faculty. International Journal of Engineering Education, 34(5), 2018, pp. 1604-1614. 

Ortega-Alvarez, J. D., Sanchez, W., & Magana, A. J. (2018). Exploring undergraduate students’ computing representational abilities and conceptual understanding in electric circuits analysis. IEEE Transactions on Education, Special Issue Computing in Engineering, 61(3), 2018, pp. 204-213. 

Magana, A. J., Ortega-Alvarez, J. D., Lovan, R., Gomez, D., Marulanda, J., & Dyke, S. (2017). Virtual, Local and Remote Laboratories for Conceptual Understanding of Dynamic Systems. International Journal of Engineering Education, 33(1), 2017, pp. 91-105.