Nicola Sochacka, Ph.D.

EETI Associate Director for Research Initiation and Enablement

Research Interests: Complex systems, Qualitative research methods, Empathy in engineering

Dr. Nicola Sochacka is a research scientist and EETI’s Associate Director for Research Initiation and Enablement. Her research program is underpinned by a deep appreciation for diverse perspectives. She works closely with faculty and students to design qualitative studies that embody a focus on in-process research ethics and bridging the research to practice gap. Her current interests include scaling her and her colleagues’ pedagogical developments on fostering empathy in engineering to other instructional settings; increasing the capacity of technical engineering faculty to conduct engineering education research; and piloting a novel methodology called SenseMaker® to investigate and improve the experience of studying engineering at UGA.



Select Publications

Sochacka, N. W., Walther, J., Rich, J. R., & Brewer, M. A. (2021). A Narrative Analysis of Stories Told about Engineering in the Public Discourse: Implications for Equity and Inclusion in Engineering. Studies in Engineering Education, 2(2), 54–77. DOI:

Sochacka, N. W., Delaine, D., Shepard, T., & Walther, J. (2021). Empathy Instruction through the Propagation Paradigm: A synthesis of developer and adopter accounts. Advances in Engineering Education, Spring 2021,

Huff, J. L., Okai, B., Shanachilubwa, K., Sochacka, N. W., & Walther, J. (2021). Unpacking professional shame: Patterns of White male engineering students living in and out of threats to their identities. Journal of Engineering Education, 110(2), 414-436.

Morelock, J., Sochacka, N., & Walther, J. (2021). Building Communities of Engineering Faculty, Staff, and Students Engaged in Educational Research: The Approach of UGA’s Engineering Education Transformations Institute. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 20, 131-138

Sochacka, N. W., Youngblood, K. M., Walther, J., & Miller, S. E. (2020). A qualitative study of how mental models impact engineering students’ engagement with empathic communication exercises. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 1-12. doi:10.1080/22054952.2020.1832726

Sochacka, N. W., Walther, J., Morelock, J. R., Hunsu, N. J., & Carnell, P. H. (2020). Cultivating a culture of scholarly teaching and learning in a college of engineering: An ecological design approach. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 25(2), 165-176. doi:10.1080/22054952.2020.1864087

Sochacka, N., Culloty, C., Hopkins, J., Harrell, J., & Walther, J. (2020). Using SenseMaker® to Examine Student Experiences in Engineering: A Discussion of the Affordances and Limitations of this Novel Research Approach. In 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings. ASEE Conferences. doi:10.18260/1-2--35471

Sochacka, N. W., Walther, J., & Pawley, A. L. (2018). Ethical Validation: Reframing Research Ethics in Engineering Education Research to Improve Research Quality. Journal of Engineering Education, 107(3), 362-379. doi: doi:10.1002/jee.20222

Walther, J., Miller, S. E., & Sochacka, N. W. (2017). A model of empathy in engineering as a core skill, practice orientation, and professional way of being. Journal of Engineering Education, 106(1), 123-148.

Sochacka, N. W., Guyotte, K. W., & Walther, J. (2016). Learning together: A collaborative autoethnographic exploration of STEAM (STEM + the arts) education. Journal of Engineering Education, 105(1), 15-42. doi: 10.1002/jee.20112

Brewer, M. A., Sochacka, N. W., Walther, J. (2015). Into the pipeline: A freshman student’s experiences of stories ‘told’ about engineering. Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, WA.

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