School of Engineering and Computer Science

OU Professor Barbara Oakley named one of ’35 Highly Influential Women in Engineering’

icon of a calendarJune 30, 2021

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OU Professor Barbara Oakley named one of ’35 Highly Influential Women in Engineering’

Barbara Oakley
Barbara Oakley, distinguished professor of engineering at Oakland University, has been selected as one of the “35 Highly Influential Women in Engineering Today."

Oakland University Professor Barbara Oakley has been selected as one of the “35 Highly Influential Women in Engineering Today” by

“It was very much a surprise to be honored as one of the highly influential women in engineering,” said Oakley, a distinguished professor of engineering at OU. “All I can say is that Oakland University has clearly been a great intellectual home for me, allowing me to look with fresh, interdisciplinary perspectives at the best of what science, and especially neuroscience, has to help us reseat education on a solid scientific foundation.”

The list also includes groundbreaking roboticists, founders of high-tech companies, CEOs, astronauts, medical experts, and pioneers in engineering sub-disciplines like computer science and electrical engineering, as well as revolutionary thinkers in areas like nano-medicine and nuclear power.

“Engineering has a reputation as a mostly male profession,” said Dr. Jed Macosko, academic director of and professor of physics at Wake Forest University. “We want to set the record straight and let more people know that women engineers are not only growing in number; but are also driving the field forward in new and creative ways. They bring innovative thinking and bold solutions that make their professions better; and more people need to know who they are and see why they are the vanguard of a new era in engineering.”

Professor Oakley is both a revolutionary and true innovator in the area of pedagogy and is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts in learning, especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, and in the design of high-quality online pedagogical materials.

Since joining Oakland University in 1998, she has made significant contributions as a productive scholar in the areas of STEM pedagogy, neuroscience and social behavior. Her books have been translated into over 20 different languages around the world.

She has also pioneered important work that has significantly helped the Academy understand what impacts a person’s interest in subject matter, along with what affects their ability to master mentally difficult material. Of the 10,000 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) currently available worldwide, her course, Learning How to Learn, is one of the world’s most popular with over 3 million registered learners from over 200 countries.

“My goal is to open career doors for all students when it comes to engineering, especially those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Oakley said.

In recognition of her exemplary course materials and approach, Oakley was honored as Coursera’s Inaugural Innovation Instructor in 2015, is the recipient of the IEEE William E. Sayle II Award for Achievement in Education, the Theo C. Pilkington Award for Biomedical Engineering Education, Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year, and the Oakland University Teaching Excellence Award. She was appointed to the rank of distinguished professor in February 2021.

For more information about this year’s “35 Highly Influential Women in Engineering Today,” visit

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