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Diana Bairaktarova, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
367 Goodwin Hall (MC 0218)
635 Prices Fork Rd.
Blacksburg, VA 24061


Ph.D. Engineering Education, Purdue University, 2013
MBA Management of Technology Hamline University, 2009
M.S. Mechanical Engineering Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria, 1993
B.S. Mechanical Engineering Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria, 1991

Research Interests

  • Design Thinking
  • User Experience Design
  • Empathic Design
  • Visual Thinking and Engineering Design Graphics
  • Cyber-learning
  • Creative ways of knowing in engineering
  • Engineering Education and Practice (Renaissance Engineering to Engineering for Social Innovations)

Research Statement

Through real-world engineering applications, Dr. Bairaktarova's experiential learning research spans from engineering to psychology to learning sciences, as she uncovers how individual performance and professional decisions are influenced by aptitudes, personal interests, and manipulation of physical and virtual objects. She is interested to understand what motivates engineers to apply empathic design techniques into their engineering practice. Some of Dr. Bairaktarova's current projects involve the validation of a new mechanical aptitude scale; development of drawing coding scheme for engineering design graphics related concepts; edited collection on creative ways of knowing in engineering.


Dr. Bairaktarova joined the Department of Engineering Education in the fall of 2015 as an assistant professor after being an assistant professor of engineering practice at the University of Oklahoma's College of Engineering for the past two years. She taught several fundamental and engineering design courses at the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, where the design of artifacts was addressed from a multidisciplinary perspective and implementation of design thinking framework. She was also the proud faculty advisor of the Sooner-Off Road student team. Diana has over fifteen years of experience working as a Design and Manufacturing Engineer.

Dr. Bairaktarova is dedicated to educate engineering students for the professional world where they will practice with a sense of social responsibility. She strives to provide a learning environment that engages students in challenging decision-making exercises, build competency in the subject and self-confidence to apply their knowledge in real-world settings. By providing applications of problem and project-based learning in the exploration of new design that stimulate creativity, Dr. Bairaktarova aims to prepare her students with innovative thinking and a desire to acquire new skills and new technical knowledge, preparing them to face rapidly changing technology.

Awards & Honors

  • Inducted into the Golden Key International Honor Society (2010)
  • Reinvigorating Engineering and Changing History Fellowship (2011, 2012)
  • Inducted in Sigma-Xi Science and Engineering Honored Society (2012)
  • Engage Engineering Faculty mini grant (Fall 2013)
  • ASEE - VCP Selected member of the Mechanical Engineering Virtual Community of Practice (2013/2014)
  • U.C. Action Faculty Grant (Spring 2014/Fall 2014)
  • Open Educational Resources - University of Oklahoma Library Faculty Grant (Summer 2014)
  • iPad Pilot - awarded from the Center of Teaching Excellence, University of Oklahoma (Fall 2014)
  • Presidential Dream Course - User Experience Design, University of Oklahoma (Spring 2015)

Selected Publications

  • Bairaktarova, D. and Eodice, M. (2016). Creative Ways of Knowing in Engineering. Berlin: Springer. (Forthcoming Fall 2016).

  • Bairaktarova, D., Bernstein, W., Reid, T. & Ramani, K. (2016). Beyond Surface Knowledge: An Exploration of How Empathic Design Techniques Enhances Engineers Understanding of Users' Needs. International Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 32, No. 1 (A), pp. 1-12.

  • Woodcock, A. & Bairaktarova, D. (2015). Gender Differences in Self-Evaluation of Students' Performance on Engineering Task. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 21 (3), pp. 255-269.

  • Bairaktarova, D. & Woodcock, A. (2015). Engineering Ethics Education: Aligning Practice and Outcomes. IEEE Communications Magazine, November 2015, Volume 53, Issue 11, DOI: 10.1109/MCOM.2015.7321965

  • Bairaktarova, D. Cox, M. & Sravasvara, M. (2015). A Project-Based Approach Professional Skills Training in an Undergraduate Engineering Curriculum. International Journal of Engineering Education, issue 31-1 (B).

  • Pilotte, M. K., Bairaktarova, D. & Evangelou, D. (2013). Trans-discipline engineering communication characteristics and norms: An exploration of communication behaviours within engineering practice. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 87-99,

  • Bairaktarova, D. & Evangelou, D. (2012). Creativity and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in Early Childhood Education. In Contemporary Perspectives in Early Childhood Education, Saracho, O. & Spodek, B. (Eds.), June, 2012.

  • Bairaktarova, D. Evangelou, D. Bagiati, A., Brophy, S. (2011). Engineering in young children's exploratory play with tangible materials. Children, Youth and Environments, 21 (2): 212 -235.

  • Bairaktarova, D., Cox, M., Evangelou, D. (2011). Leadership training in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in Bulgaria. European Journal of Engineering Education, vol.36, issue 6, pp 58 -594. Taylor & Francis Group.