ECE Faculty Spotlight: Racheida Lewis

“My research interests primarily focus on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in engineering. As a Black woman engineer and first-generation college student, I know firsthand some of the trials and tribulations one must overcome in this profession both personally and professionally. My desire is to empirically amplify the experiences of those traditionally underrepresented in engineering and dismantle oppressive systems.” -Dr. Racheida Lewis, Professor in the Engineering Education Transformations Institute and in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Hometown:
Washington, D.C.

What did you study in college and where did you earn your degrees?
Electrical Engineering (the Tour of Virginia): Virginia Commonwealth University, B.S. and The University of Virginia, M.E.
and Engineering Education Virginia Tech, Ph.D.

What brought you to UGA?
I wanted to be in a place that valued my contributions to engineering education research but also enabled me to support undergraduate education in ECE. UGA provided that opportunity.

What are your research interests and what motivated you to pursue this area of study?
My research interests primarily focus on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in engineering. As a Black woman engineer and first-generation college student, I know firsthand some of the trials and tribulations one must overcome in this profession both personally and professionally. My desire is to empirically amplify the experiences of those traditionally underrepresented in engineering and dismantle oppressive systems.

What current projects do you currently have happening in your lab? 
I am currently working on a project that amplifies the traits Black students develop that allow them to thrive in engineering despite dealing with micro- and macro- level racism locally and nationally.

How long have you been an instructor in engineering and what inspires you to teach or do research in your field?
I’ve been teaching for going on 8 years (going on 4 at UGA). My students inspire me to be my best self in the classroom. I strive to create an enjoyable learning experience and receive joy from students thriving in this environment.

What skills do you think are most important for students to succeed in engineering and what methods do you use to ensure the students you engage with learn the skills they need?
Google is your friend! Seriously, learning how to research and use that research to answer questions is really what problem-solving is all about. Sure you can know Ohm’s Law or Kreb’s Cycle but knowing those things won’t get you far without knowing how to apply them. Understanding how to research effectively leads to better problem-solving skills.

Who in your life has been mentor and what did they do that inspired you?
Dr. Hobson-Hargraves and Dr. Filippas at VCU were two women professors in EE I had in undergrad. At the time I didn’t realize that by simply existing they became the role models I needed to keep pushing in engineering. I lucked up meeting them during my freshman year and they kept up with me through graduation and even until now. A lot of the care and grace I’ve developed as a professor I attribute to what they extended to and modeled for me.

What do you like to do in your pastime / hobbies?
I love to travel (domestically and internationally), go to concerts, not kill my plants, and spend time with my dog Leo .

What is one of your favorite places in Athens?
I love the Botanical Gardens!

What is one of your most embarrassing moments in engineering?
Building a circuit and doing my best to determine why it’s not working as I expect it to only to find out that I never applied power.




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