Dr. Marie Paretti

Marie Paretti, Ph.D.
357 Goodwin Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061



Ph.D. English, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1997
M.A. English, Virginia Tech, 1990
B.S. Chemical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 1986

Research Interests:

  • Engineering identity
  • Experiences of underrepresented students in engineering
  • Communication and teamwork in engineering
  • Design education and project-based learning
  • Mentoring in engineering

My research grows from my passion for exploring communication practices across contexts and empowering students in their professional lives. This passion has enabled me to build a research program grounded in engineering communication, with related work in design education as well as in identity and inclusion. Across these domains, my research and the research of my graduate students helps current and future faculty create inclusive learning environments that integrate professional skills into engineering curricula.

Helping students and professionals communicate effectively is the central thread in my teaching and research, and much of my research explores this domain, including writing, speaking, interpersonal communication, and teamwork. My work includes studies of students learning to communicate across professional, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries; faculty integrating communication into their curricula; and industry professionals collaborating in the workplace. At the same time, because communication and collaboration are prominent in design settings, my research also includes design education broadly. Much of this work centers on understanding effective teaching practices in project-based environments, but it also extends to studies of design cognition, development of broad contextual understanding, and engagement in entrepreneurial thinking. Finally, running through both of these areas and beyond is an abiding commitment to inclusion. My research in engineering identity considers what it means to be an engineer and the ways in which students from underrepresented groups experience engineering education. My work in this area looks at both student experiences and faculty practices in order to create inclusive learning environments for all students.


Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). She received a B.S. in chemical engineering and an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on communication and collaboration, design education, and identity (including race, gender, class, etc.) in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, teamwork, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing pedagogies on personal and professional identities, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering. When not at work, she can be found pulling weeds in her garden or bicycling the back roads of Craig County, VA.

Awards & Honors:

  • 2015 Nunnally Award for Outstanding Faculty in Engineering Education
  • 2014 Finalist, Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Engineering Subjects
  • 2008 National Science Foundation CAREER Award
  • 2008 Sporn Award for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Engineering Subjects
  • 2008 Outstanding New Assistant Professor in the College of Engineering
  • 2003 XCaliber Certificate of Excellence for English 3764: Technical Writing Online. Virginia Tech Center for Innovation in Learning, 2003. With Jim Dubinsky and Mark Armstrong.

Selected Publications:

Paretti, M. C., McNair, L. D., & Leydens, J. (2014). Engineering communication. In A. Johri & B. Olds (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (pp. 601-632). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP.

Lutz, B.,* Hixson, C.,* Paretti, M. C., Epstein, A.,* & Lesko, J. J. (2015). Mentoring and facilitation in entrepreneurship education: beliefs and practices. Journal of Engineering Entrpreneurship 6(1): 37-51.

Groen, C.*, Paretti, M. C., & McNair, L. D. (2015, in press). Learning from expert/student dialogue to enhance engineering design education. In R. Adams * J. Siddiqui (Eds.), Analyzing Design Review Conversations. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue UP.