Community Catalysts

Cohort 7

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Community Catalysts (ComCats) are a group of faculty across the nation who help make the Engineering Unleashed community a thriving place. They also work to drive the mission and concepts of the entrepreneurial mindset, online and off. 

ComCats provide peer review feedback to card authors, connect faculty who are working on similar topics, and work on special projects including website enhancements.

Follow the current cohort below, connect with them in card or forum discussions, and feel free to reach out with your questions and feedback!

Meet Cohort 7

Aaron Sakulich

Aaron Sakulich, Associate Professor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Aaron focuses on developing more durable materials for use in infrastructure, which will lead to a lowered maintenance burden, improved user safety, and a reduced environmental impact. He is also very much involved in an off-campus projects system, running sites in Panama City and Reykjavik.
Anna Engelke

Anna Engelke, BeAM Education Program Manager, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anna Engelke is the Education Program Manager for the BeAM Makerspace Network at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on developing and managing BeAM’s educational projects, including faculty development programs to support the integration of design, making, and the BeAM makerspaces into academic course curricula. Previously, she served as the Program Manager for Tinkering and Technology at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. She earned her master’s degree in Education Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2017.
A. L. Ranen McLanahan

Aric L. Ranen McLanahan, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin - Platteville

Ranen is driven to make Engineering Unleashed the one-stop-shop of innovative, insertable classroom ideas. He created a prototype card database along with drafting a card template to guide faculty when creating their own cards. Ranen started in industry on a floating factory ship. In 2014, he received the Arthur M. Kaplan Award for his teaching, outreach, and innovation. He offers professional training nation-wide.

AnnMarie Thomas, Professor of Engineering and Entrepreneurship, University of St. Thomas

AnnMarie is the founder and director of the St. Thomas Playful Learning Lab. She authored "Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation."
Chris Sharp

Chris Sharp, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, George Fox University

In his graduate program, Chris was exposed to engineering design and discovered the potential for the creative in engineering. No longer did there have to be a singular correct answer! He also discovered the unfortunate lack of intentional instruction within the broader engineering education system. Chris now pursues his interests in engineering education, specifically in character development, engineer identity, and creativity discovery (usually within a design focus...since design is fun!) He finds it fascinating to see what can be accomplished when varying disciplines come together in a transdisciplinary way.
David Olawale

David Olawale, Assistant Professor, University of Indianapolis

David has diverse experience in research and development, as well as technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. He is taking a leading role in the design and implementation of the DesignSpine sequence and the development of entrepreneurial mindset in engineering students. He combines practical technology commercialization experience from co-founding two technology startup companies and serving as a consultant for others. Dr. Olawale has published over fifty peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers.
Deborah Grzybowski

Deborah Grzybowski, Professor Clinical, The Ohio State University

Deborah has developed curricula at the middle school level as well as UG & Grad. Her research is focused in two areas to engineering accessible to ALL students: Creating an inclusive engineering environment for students with visual impairments, and increasing female and underrepresented minority populations in engineering using Art Integrated engineering (STEAM). Currently she is developing an UG major in esports/game design.
Erick Vasquez

Erick Vasquez, Associate Professor, University of Dayton

Erick was born in El Salvador and received his BEng in Chemical Engineering at UCA. He obtained his MS from Clemson University and his Ph.D. from Mississippi State University, both in Chemical Engineering. His engineering educational research interests are focused on assessing methods to improve teamwork, open-ended laboratory experiments, collaborative and active learning, and Transport Phenomena computational modeling.
Erin Henslee

Erin Henslee, Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University

Erin is interested in developing curriculum that sustainably meets the changing needs of the engineering profession and the engineering student. She has developed core courses across freshman, sophomore and junior curriculum with an emphasis on problem-based, active learning.
Heather Rissler

Heather Rissler, Biology Instructor, Division Chair for STEM and Health Sciences, Co-director of Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, North Iowa Area Community College

Heather completed her PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Australian National University where she studied the evolution of intracellular signaling pathways and regulation of pigment biosynthesis. She is currently pursing her EdD with a focus on the role of faculty development in mitigating opportunity gaps. As a life-long learner, she has embraced entrepreneurial mindset learning and applies that approach to her teaching.
Jared Schoepf

Jared Schoepf, Director of Operations of EPICS, Arizona State University

Jared received his PhD in Chemical Engineering at ASU, developing a tiered approach to rapidly detect nanomaterials in the environment and consumer products. Jared has been a lecturer of EPICS for 4 years, mentoring over 200 teams. He has a passion for teaching and mentoring students, aiming to help each student achieve their goals.
Jennifer O'Neil

Jennifer ONeil, Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

Jennifer primarily teaches freshman and thermal-fluid courses. She likes to take an active approach; building pumpkin launchers to roasting marshmallows, they're always doing something fun connecting theory with application! Her passion for teaching and the short time it takes to become bored have led her to seek a more effective way to teach. She strives for the point in the semester when students reach that ah-ha! moment and can connect information to see the bigger picture.
Mike Rust

Mike Rust, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Western New England University

Mike looks to address complex challenges facing our world today and in the future. Things like global health and lab-on-a-chip get him REALLY excited! He gets to help train and work alongside the next generation of problem solvers as they embark on their emerging careers.
Nathalie Lavoine

Nathalie Lavoine, Assistant Professor, North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Dr. Nathalie Lavoine is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forest Biomaterials, College of Natural Resources, at NC State University. She received her Ph.D. degree in Materials Science in 2013 from the Laboratory of Pulp and Paper Science and Graphic Arts, in Grenoble in France. Her research focuses on the sustainable design and development of high-performance tailored materials from renewable resources as an alternative to petroleum-based products.
Pat Kirby

Pat Kirby, Lecturer, Rowan University

Pat has a background in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering with a good deal of educational experience and a desire to bring joy and curiosity to the classroom.
Saeed Al-Haj

Saeed Al-Haj, Assistant Professor, Ohio Northern University

Saeed is passionate about learning and motivating students to learn, and likes developing new hands-on projects and activities for his students using the entrepreneurially minded learning framework. He is currently teaching computer security, data structures and algorithms, programming languages, and databases.
Scott Sell

Scott Sell, Associate Professor, Saint Louis University

Dr. Sell is currently an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Saint Louis University. Prior to joining SLU in August of 2012, Scott spent three years conducting clinical tissue engineering research at the VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA. His research lab focuses on tissue engineering scaffold fabrication for wound healing and orthopedic applications, and he is also passionate about STEM education. He has 80+ peer reviewed publications, 180+ conference abstracts, and 4100+ citations of his work.
Stephanie Gillespie

Stephanie Gillespie, Associate Dean, University of New Haven

Stephanie received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Georgia Tech and has experience in K-12 outreach and curriculum development. Originally serving as a Lecturer in the Engineering and Applied Science Education (EASE) team, she focused on leading multiple first-year engineering courses as well as facilitating the integration of the makerspace into courses across the curriculum. She was the recipient of the Engineering Unleashed Fellowship in Fall 2020 and is working to expand makerspace integration in the introduction to engineering classes, as well as enhancing assessment of EM outcomes gained from their makerspace experience.
Wujie Zhang

Wujie Zhang, Associate Professor of Biomolecular Engineering, Milwaukee School of Engineering

Wujie truly believes the focus should be on each individual student -- strengthening the student experience through interaction, encouragement, and engagement. He has been an eager participant in various engineering education workshops and programs.

Looking for a mentor?

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