First-Hand:ASEE Fellow History - Adams

History of an ASEE Fellow

Stephanie G. Adams

As of March 1, 2018

Birthplace: Norfolk, VA

Birth date: August 30, 1965


I was born in Norfolk, Virginia the only child of Drs. Howard and Eloise (E – Lois) Adams. I often describe myself as an education brat due to the fact that we moved quite a bit. Both my parents have BS degrees in biology and began their careers as public-school teachers. As a kid my dad began working at Norfolk State University as Director of Alumni Affairs and would later become VP of Student Affairs. Shortly after his appointment as VP, he was encouraged to return to school to pursue his Ph.D. We would go on to live in Syracuse, NY (twice), Virginia Beach, VA (twice) and Osceola, IN. I would graduate from high school in Elkhart, IN. I was introduced to engineering through my participation in pre-college engineering programs at Purdue, Illinois Institute of Technology and Wisconsin. After I left for college my mother decided at 45 to pursue her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of Florida. She would graduate shortly after her 50th birthday and return to the high school science classroom. Some would say a career in STEM was in my DNA.


I began my college career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the goal of becoming a chemical engineer. After graduation my plan was to obtain a graduate degree in biomedical engineering and become an orthopedic surgeon. At the start of my sophomore year, I decided to leave Wisconsin and ultimately transferred to North Carolina A&T State University. I would go on to become an honor graduate of North Carolina A&T State University, earning my BS in Mechanical Engineering. In 1991, I received the Master of Engineering degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia and in 1998, I received my Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Engineering from Texas A&M University. My degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering allowed me concentrate my studies in Industrial Engineering and Management.


As an undergraduate and masters student I interned at the 3M Corporation. I worked in a variety of divisions as a new product engineer. I spent my time coordinating design experiments; analyzing data using statistical quality control methods; monitoring scheduling and planning for new products; writing surgical protocols; developing test procedures; implementation of a more efficient packaging system; correcting blueprints; process mapping; maintaining and updating group workload plans.

Upon completion of my master’s degree I worked for the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, Inc. (GEM) as a recruiter encouraging minority students attending graduate school in science or engineering. This experience prompted me to pursue a career in higher education and I became the Director of Minority Engineering at North Carolina State University and Texas Tech University. While I enjoyed these positions, I quickly figured out that without a Ph.D. I had hit a bit of a glass ceiling. I decided I wanted a career in engineering education and I returned to obtain my Ph.D.

Since completing my doctorate degree, I have held faculty and administrative positions at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech. Presently, I serve as the 7th Dean of the Batten College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University. During the 2005–2006 year I was selected through a highly competitive process to spend the year as an AAAS/NSF Science and Engineering Policy Fellow. From 2006 – 2007 I served as a Program Officer in the Division of Engineering Education and Centers at the National Science Foundation.

Research and Scholarship

My research interests focus on several areas including Broadening Participation, Faculty and Graduate Student Development, International/Global Education, Teamwork and Team Effectiveness, and Quality Control and Management. This list represents my evolution as a researcher and administrator. Upon graduation from my Ph.D. program I set out to design, develop, and validate a model for the facilitation of effective teaming in the engineering classroom and for the enhancement of learning. This goal drove my research agenda for a ten-year period and resulted in my receiving the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the support of many graduate students, and publication of numerous scholarly publications.

During the same ten-year period, I also focused a portion of my time and efforts in the area of Quality Control and Management. Twenty-five percent of the graduate students I advised focused their efforts on issues related to lean manufacturing, six sigma, and total quality management. Our work examined methods to aid organizations in improving processes and streamlining operations. I also became interested in questions related to engineering students developing global competencies. I led several funded international research experiences for undergraduate students.

As I moved into administration my interests and research shifted to matters related to broadening participation (specifically faculty and graduate student development). My work in the area of broadening participation seeks to increase the participation of individuals from underrepresented groups and diverse institutions in the STEM workforce. I am using my expertise as an engineer and researcher to conduct research, improve support systems and networks, create preparation and persistence programs for graduate students, and offer mentoring and professional development workshops for early career faculty to building capacity. I have two active grants from NSF to support these initiatives. The first project entitled, Academic Career Enhancement for Underrepresented Faculty in Engineering, (EEC #1444902) strives to enhance the presence, socialization, retention, and advancement of junior and mid-career faculty from underrepresented (i.e., African American, Native American and Hispanics) populations in engineering. This will be accomplished via a mixed-methods research study and the development and implementation of career development workshops. The second project, Dissertation Institute (BPE-1542696), has as its primary goal to develop and offer a sustainable, practical and timely experience to address issues germane to shortening time-to-degree and degree completion rates for underrepresented (African American, Native American, Pacific Island, and Hispanic American) doctoral students in engineering.

Philosophy of Engineering Education

Today’s engineering programs must produce engineers capable of designing and inventing new products/services; creating new industries and jobs; competing and thriving in the global market; working across disciplines; and interacting with people from different backgrounds, cultures and countries. To prepare 21st century students—those capable of working in and with different cultures and who are knowledgeable about global markets—we must find ways of developing curricula that teach engineers to be technically competent, globally sophisticated, culturally aware, innovative, entrepreneurial, and flexible. Today’s curricula must provide students with an education that has depth in one discipline and breadth across any disciplines. I find the time has come time for the walls between departments to come down and interaction across disciplines to increase in the education of engineers. It is also time for our educational system to enhance and increase students’ experiential and co-curricular experiences.

ASEE Activities

I was introduced to ASEE by my father in the 80’s when I was high school student. He was a regular conference attendee, and even planned our 1981 family vacation to coincide with the annual ASEE conference hosted by the University of Southern California. Seventeen years and three engineering degrees later, I attended my first conference in Seattle, Washington. I recall feeling energized, inspired and very welcomed. I was energized that so many were concerned with the education of engineering and engineering technology professionals. I was inspired by the passion of our members to advance our profession.

I evolved first-time presenter as a doctoral student to an author/presenter as a faculty member, to a long serving leader within the Engineering Management Division, to a member of the Board of Directors, and now a candidate for President-Elect of this highly respected organization. Along the way, I have served ASEE as the Secretary, Treasurer, Program Chair, Chair and Past Chair of the Engineering Management Division; I was Vice Chair of the Working Group on Scholarly Educational Practice as a part of the Engineering Education for the Global Economy: Research, Innovation, and Practice project; I was elected to the Board of Directors in the role of Chair, Professional Interest Council I and served as the Vice President of Professional Interest Council Chairs from 2011 to 2012. I was an invited member of the committee that wrote, “Creating a Culture for Scholarly and Systematic Innovation in Engineering Education”. I served as a member of the DuPont Minorities Award Selection, Nominating and JEE Editor Search Committees and past Chairperson of the Awards Committee for three years. Currently, I a member of the Risk Management and Fellow Membership Committees. My nomination as President-Elect is a tremendous honor and recognition of my service to ASEE and my commitment to the vision and mission of ASEE.

Other Professional Activities

In addition to my membership and service to ASEE I hold or have held membership in the following organizations: National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Epsilon Mu Eta, Engineering Management Honor Society, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, American Society of Engineering Management (ASEM), Academy of Management (AMA), Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), National Association of Minority Engineering Program Administrators, and Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). During my membership in these organizations, I have also held a number of leadership and advisory positions. Most recently I was honored to have been asked to serve on the Engineering Societies and Engineering Education Project, led by the National Academy of Engineering.