Dr. Lynford Goddard Talks Engineering Outreach with

University of Illinois professor Lynford L. Goddard has made quite a mark on the electrical and computer engineering (ECE) community. In February it was announced that he'd be the first ever recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Early Career Award. That's due in large part to his overseeing an annual GLEE (Girls Learning Electric Engineering) summer camp in central Illinois aimed at bringing high school girls into the world of ECE.

By Eric Garneau

lynford goddard What's your educational background?

Lynford Goddard: I received a B.S. (with distinction) in math and physics, an M.S. in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University in 1998, 2003 and 2005, respectively. My doctoral research focused on characterization and modeling of certain lasers. At Lawrence Livermore National Lab, I conducted post-doctoral research on photonic integrated circuits, sensors and data processing systems. What attracted you to the University of Illinois for your work?

LG: The strength of the faculty at Illinois and the opportunity to work in a top notch facility for semiconductor and photonic device research were the initial attractions. Since joining, I've been pleased to find that the students are outstanding. What classes do you teach at the U of I?

LG: I frequently teach ECE 329, 'Introduction to Electromagnetic Fields,' a required course for ECE majors which is usually taken during their sophomore or junior year. I've developed a new course, ECE 498LG, 'Principles of Experimental Research,' and have taught it twice. The main objective of this interdisciplinary course is for students to develop the basic skills needed for pursuing a career or an advanced degree involving experimental research. It's designed for first year graduate students and advanced undergraduates. What was your inspiration for GLEE? How do you choose the students who attend?

LG: I'm passionate about increasing the diversity of students and professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Women and minorities are severely underrepresented in engineering overall, and electrical engineering has one of the largest disparities. For GLEE, I thought back to how I got excited about science. First, there was the foundation from my math and science classes in elementary through high school. Next, there was the encouragement of my parents and teachers, who also provided resources for me to explore. Finally, there was public engagement by professional scientists. I enjoyed learning from them during middle school field trips to the San Francisco Exploratorium, hearing about their research during a high school trip to the NASA Ames Wind Tunnel and receiving feedback from industry judges at my high school science fair. GLEE camp is structured to provide the girls some of each of those three factors and get them excited about electrical engineering. Students from across the country apply for the camp and are selected based on their application essay, grades and letters of recommendation from their teachers. You seem to keep pretty busy, between teaching, shepherding outreach programs, academic research and even editing professional journals. How do you find the time to make all that work?

LG: You have to love what you do and be good with time management. I've learned to be very efficient with completing tasks. Also, my student research and teaching assistants have played major roles in these efforts. You've won the first ever AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science, which seems like a double-honor. How did you feel when you found out?

LG: It was an amazing honor to have been selected and I was thrilled to receive the phone call. There are so many people around the US doing excellent work. Is there anything you'd like our readers to know about your research, your outreach work or anything else?

LG: For more information about my research and about the girls' summer camp, readers may visit Applications for the 2011 camps are still open.

Dr. Goddard is innovating new ways to bring engineering to high schoolers. Read about a group that does the same for biology.

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