ECE is a growing department with several new faculty members. In the second part of this series we are introducing Clinical Assistant Professor Renata A. Revelo.
How did you become interested in engineering?
My uncle inspired me to consider engineering. He would set up circuit and computer programming experiments for me and my sister to explore. It was wonderful seeing how engaged he was in what he was doing that it inspired me to do the same. This inspiration was reinforced during high school when I took a programming class and an engineering drafting class.
What experiences led you to your present position?
Before I decided to pursue engineering education as a research interest, I was involved in a summer program where I developed academic curriculum for an engineering class and then taught the class. In that same program, I developed programmatic curriculum for an orientation piece of the program. Both of those experiences made me think about all the programs that I had been involved in as a student and how formative and essential they had been for my success. Then I discovered engineering education – a field through which I would be able to research how students – more specifically underrepresented – are successful in engineering. Working as a professor allows me to interact with students. Through my work with the college of engineering, I’m able to think more deeply about the research-to-practice component that I’m also passionate about.
Can you tell us about your work as a professor in ECE? Could you describe a typical work day?
Right now, my typical work day consists of class preparation, developing/innovating the strategies I use in class to deliver material. On average, I spend some time writing, most of which are papers that stem from my dissertation work.
Have you received any awards or recognition? What are your secrets that lead you to receiving them?
There are two awards that I’ve received in the last few years that I’m very proud of. The first is an award for outstanding service as a graduate mentor. Being able to work with students one on one is extremely rewarding. Being recognized for the work by the students was humbling and exciting. My secret would be to put yourself in a place where you can thrive and you enjoy what you are doing. The second award was a best paper award at a conference. I was not prepared to receive that award. It was exciting for me because the work I presented is something that I’m very passionate about and for it to be recognized by scholars in the field as worthy was amazing.
What are your favorite hardware and software tools?
Matlab used to be a favorite. Nowadays, I am really getting into R. I don’t get to code anymore, so R, reminds me of my programming days and that makes me want to keep using it. I use R for statistical analysis.
Are you involved with any professional organizations?
I’m a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, American Society for Engineering Education, and Association for the Study of Higher Education. I’ve been a member of SHPE since 2003. Without SHPE, my undergraduate would have been completely different – maybe I wouldn’t even be here today. Today, I am part of a national committee that works on a middle school and high school symposium focused on STEM that is part of the national SHPE conference.
What are you currently working on?
Collaborating with colleagues on research projects dealing with engineering education and the culture of engineering. Incorporating active learning to the class I’m teaching.
Do you have an area of engineering that you specialize in?
Engineering education, culture of engineering, success of underrepresented students in engineering, and engineering identity.
What do you do during your free time?
Photography, walking, visiting new places (close and far).
What direction do you see yourself in a few years from now? Or what would you like to accomplish at UIC?
Working with engineering students closely, either through teaching or programs or both. Working on engineering education research. At UIC, I would like to work on how engineering students identify as engineers through their classes and involvement.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an engineer?
I would have loved to be a dancer. I can only dream.
By David Staudacher, UIC