Meet Susan Sajadi, new engineering education assistant professor
Engineering Education is home to faculty from a wide variety of backgrounds, and our newest assistant professor is no exception. Dr. Susan Sajadi is a biomedical engineer, with both her Bachelor's and Master's from Arizona State University, as well as industry experience.
Sajadi recently defended her dissertation titled, "Understanding Adaptability in the Engineering Field." Her committee included her advisor Samantha Brunhaver, and members, Ann McKenna and Nadia Kellam.
Get to know more about Sajadi with our top 5 getting to know you Qs:
Why Virginia Tech? What do you love about VT?
I appreciate the vibrant faculty and students and how welcoming they are. The culture of the engineering education department at Virginia Tech is what excites me most.
What’s your favorite thing about being a professor/faculty?
I am excited to be starting as an assistant professor in the Fall and have the opportunity to work with the outstanding students and faculty in the engineering education community to move our field forward and have a meaningful impact. My favorite thing about being a professor is helping students grow in every part of their career path.
What does your research entail? What do you hope will come of it?
My research thus far has been in the following areas: broadening participation in engineering, understanding engineering workplace culture, creating more inclusive environments in engineering, and fostering adaptability in the engineering field. I am still exploring a variety of research interests with the goal of helping develop an engineering field that is more inclusive and makes a more positive impact on the world.
What originally got you interested in your work and/or research?
My experiences as an engineering student and an engineer in the workforce gave me a personal understanding of the lack of diversity and the associated challenges of being a woman of color in the engineering field. Due to these experiences, I am very passionate about broadening participation in the field and decided to work in corporate social responsibility to help with efforts to broaden participation in STEM. It became evident to me through my work that these issues were systemic—and I often found myself doing social science research before I really knew what it was—collecting stories from my colleagues and trying to share the insights to help others.
While writing a manual on how to create more inclusive STEM labs in the middle schools that I was working with, I met faculty in engineering education with expertise in that area. That is when I learned that I could continue to do the work I was doing in a research context to have a broader impact and started diving more deeply into this work by pursuing my Ph.D.!
What advice do you have for graduate students looks to join the engineering education field?
This is a great field and community to be in! My advice is to be open to new opportunities and work to learn from each one. Your career journey and graduate school, especially, may not be a straight one—build friendships with those who walk along with you to help bring joy even during the twists and turns!