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Diana Bairaktarova, Ph.D.

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

Teaching/Courses Taught

Foundations of Engineering I (ENGE 1215)
Foundations of Engineering II (ENGE 1216)
Introduction to Spatial Visualization (ENGE 1354)
The Startup Class: Commercializing Innovation (ENGE/IDS/MGT 4094)
Design in Engineering Education and Practice (ENGE 5024)
Issues in Engineering Education (ENGE 5014)
Practicum in the Engineering Classroom (5504)


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

  • Abilities (Spatial visualization, Mechanical aptitude, Creativity)
  • Ethical and Empathic design
  • Cyber learning/Learning environments
  • Technology-enhanced learning

Research Statement

"With her research group, Abilities, Creativity, and Ethics in Design (ACE[D]), Diana Bairaktarova engages in research with undergraduate and graduate students, educators and practitioners by doing research that crosses disciplines, including engineering, psychology, and the learning sciences; this distinctive combination has enabled research-to-practice partnerships that would otherwise not exist. Her work encompasses three focus areas: Learning Environments, Factors Impacting Student Performance, and Creativity, Ethical and Empathic Design. Bairaktarova translates her findings into practical pedagogical approaches by designing and applying contemporary learning environments that closely map the engineering work ethos. 


Diana Bairaktarova is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education. She is also an affiliate faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a Faculty in the Human-Centered Design at Virginia Tech. Diana has over fifteen years of experience working as a Design and Manufacturing Engineer.  '

Before joining Virginia Tech, Diana was an assistant professor of engineering practice in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical at the University of Oklahoma. She taught several fundamental and engineering design courses, where the design of artifacts was addressed from a multidisciplinary perspective and implementation of design thinking framework. As an engineer with extensive industry experience and an engineering education researcher with knowledge of how people learn, Bairaktarova alignes her research, teaching, and service with the mission of creating and supporting an innovative and inclusive engineering profession for the 21st century. 

Selected Awards & Honors

  • W.S. "Pete" White Innovation in Engineering Education Award, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2020
  • XCaliber Award (eXceptional, high-CALIBER contributions to technology-enriched learning activities), Virginia Tech, 2020
  • Engineering Design Graphics Division Innovation Award, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), 2019
  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award, Virginia Tech, 2018 
  • Best Paper Award, International Division, ASEE, 2018
  • Editor's Award for Best paper, Journal of Engineering Design Graphics, 2017 

Selected Publications

Bairaktarova, D., & Pilotte, M. (2020). Person or thing oriented: A comparative study of individual differences of first-year engineering students and practitioners. Journal of Engineering Education, 109(2), 230–242.

Yones, R., & Bairaktarova, D. (2020). ViTA: A platform-independent automatic grading tool for two-dimensional CAD drawings. International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education, 1-23,

Li, X., Younes, R., Bairaktarova, D., & Guo, Q. (2020). Predicting spatial visualization problems’ difficulty level from eye-tracking data. Sensors, 20(7).

Bairaktarova, D., & Reeping, D. (2019). Development and psychometrics of a freely available mechanical aptitude test. International Journal of Engineering Education 2, 35(6), 1839–1850.

Bairaktarova, D., Williams, D., & Katsioloudis, P. J. (2019). Visualizing multi-mode instruction for spatial visualization. Journal of Engineering Design Graphics, 83, 14–26.

Cohen, C., & Bairaktarova, D. (2019). A cognitive approach to spatial visualization assessment for first-year engineering students. Engineering Design Graphics Journal, 82(3), 1–19.

Ozkan, D., McNair, L., & Bairaktarova, D. (2019). Teacher learner, learner teacher: Parallels and dissonance in an interdisciplinary design. IEEE Transactions on Education, 62(3), 226–235.

Bairaktarova, D. (2018). Coordinating mind and hand: The importance of manual drawing and descriptive geometry instruction in a CAD-oriented engineering design graphics class. Journal of Engineering Design Graphics2, 81(3), 1–16.

Srinivasan, A., & Bairaktarova, D. (2018). Learning thermodynamics with iPad: Adaptation and learning opportunities for both instructor and students. International Journal of Engineering Education, 34(5), 1615–1625.

Bairaktarova, D., & Eodice, M. (2017). Thermodynamics in high energy rhymes and rhythms. Advances in Engineering Education, 6(2), 1–18.

Bairaktarova, D., Graziano, W., & Cox, M. (2017). Enhancing engineering students’ performance on design tasks: The box of parts. Journal of Mechanical Design, 139(5).

Bairaktarova, D., & Woodcock, A. (2016). Engineering student’s ethical awareness and behavior: A new motivational model. Journal of Science and Engineering Ethics, 23(4), 1129–1157.

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, 32(1), 111-122.