Courtney Smith-Orr

I am currently a Teaching Assistant Professor at UNC Charlotte in Electrical and Computer Engineering. My research interests span a variety of topics within Engineering Education Research including: Faculty mentoring of minority students, diversity and inclusion in the engineering classroom, retention and active learning techniques in electrical engineering classrooms.
I completed my Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University(Virginia Tech). The topic of my dissertation was the investigation of the faculty mentoring experiences of African American females in engineering, specifically within matched and un-matched mentoring relationships based on race and gender. Throughout my degree program I spend numerous semesters as a Teaching Assistant teaching three Engineering Exploration workshop courses to first year engineering students and a summer teaching a summer transition program for incoming freshman. In May of 2012, I obtained my Master's of Science in Electronics Engineering from Norfolk State University, where I also received my bachelors degree in Optical Engineering. My Masters' thesis was focused around neural engineering and was entitled Development of Polyimide Neural Probe and Chronic Recording with Micro-Positioning. The transition from the more traditional engineering field came from my time spent with undergraduate research students during my summers at Norfolk State. In that time, I gathered some experience in relaying information effectively to undergraduate students and developed a passion for teaching. Having left the technical side of engineering my transition into the academic research and teaching will better help me to reach my goals towards becoming apart of engineering academia. My ambitions for the future are to continue to improve my teaching while also researching the impacts of mentoring on minority students in engineering. It is my goal to improve the mentoring and interactions between minority students and non-minority faculty to increase diversity and retention of minority students in engineering.