Old Dominion University has named Batten Endowed Fellow and Associate Professor Vukica Jovanović chair of the Engineering Technology Department.

Jovanović has served as interim chair of the department since 2021 and is the first permanent female chair in the history of ODU's Batten College of Engineering and Technology. Trained as an engineering technology educator at Purdue University, Jovanović will be the first chair with a Ph.D. in engineering technology.

"This is of great importance to our institution as she is an excellent role model and mentor to increase female representation in engineering," said Nestor Escobales, master lecturer in the Engineering Technology Department. "During Dr. Jovanović's short tenure as interim chair, she has already demonstrated her ability to lead improvements and leave a lasting mark. She is collaborative, a problem solver, data-driven and a great team player."

"As a leader, my main goal is to create a diverse, equal and productive environment so that anyone can achieve their own personal goals and feel appreciated and welcomed," Jovanović said. "I hope that my success in academia serves a higher purpose in society, particularly as a role model to women interested in pursuing careers in engineering and above all to have the courage to serve as leaders in engineering fields."

She said her family valued engineering as an academic field and viable career option for anyone regardless of their gender. Both she and her two sisters, who are also engineers, grew up hearing the sounds of heavy machinery such as lathes, milling machines and other metal-forming operations because their father had a manufacturing company. Jovanović said she also had multiple female role models in her family, including engineering professors and engineering high school teachers.

As interim chair, she led a team of faculty from the Engineering Technology Department to develop and prepare a new major offering in manufacturing engineering technology, filling a critical need for the region's manufacturing industry. The new major will be offered in fall 2022.

Jovanović has published extensively on topics related to engineering pathways, broadening participation in STEM of underrepresented students, digital thread, digital manufacturing, mechatronics, assembly systems and industrial robotics. She has more than 140 peer-reviewed publications. She has served as Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator on numerous federally funded grants (with around $5.5 million directly coming to ODU), many of which have resulted in programming designed to serve underrepresented students in Norfolk Public Schools. She has funded research in engineering technology pathways from the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research and Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board, all focusing on future cybersecurity and advanced manufacturing careers.

"I'm honored to have this opportunity to lead our department and to deliver one of the strongest engineering technology programs in the Commonwealth of Virginia and nationwide," Jovanović said. "One thing that we are all proud of is that we are enabling our students to climb the social ladder and to be valuable society members who are moving this country forward and surely bringing manufacturing back as a viable career option after logistics shortages caused by the pandemic."

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