Getting to Know You – Raga Ahmed, Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering

What keeps Dr. Ahmed busy when she’s not teaching? Among her other titles are Graduate Coordinator, Faculty Advisor of the UTC Chapter of NSBE, and Faculty Advisor of the UTC Drones Club. Add to that her recent role as the principal investigator in a program titled “Engineering and Data Analytics in Smart Cities”. We caught up with Dr. Ahmed to learn more.

How long have you been at CECS?
RA: As a PhD student, I was awarded an Equity and Diversity Fellowship to teach in 2009. I was hired as faculty on tenure track in 2013 and have been an Associate Professor for 2 years.

Where have you lived?
RA: Currently: Apison, TN. Previously: Chattanooga, TN, Cartersville, GA, and Houston, TX

What was your first job?
RA: Office equipment (copier, printer, CPU, monitor) board-level maintenance

What was one of your favorite jobs before becoming a faculty member?
RA: Research engineer, part of a multidisciplinary team (concerned with optimizing electric motor design via geometry and material)

What languages do you speak?
RA: English, Arabic, and elementary French

What would you like us to know about Electrical Engineering that we may not know or think of?
RA: Methods used with systems like electrical circuits and control systems can be applied not only to magnetic systems and mechanical systems, but also biological systems (for example, animal or human insulin-glucose studies).

What has been your favorite thing about your career so far?
RA: Acquiring and sharing knowledge

How have you seen CECS change over the years since you’ve been here?
RA: There has been a lot of change. Some great people left and some great people joined. Research and student involvement in research have increased markedly. I have seen increased utilization of technology (for teaching, sharing news via overhead screen or in social media, recruitment and bookkeeping). I have seen the Center for Student Success grow as well as increase and vary the services it offers students. COVID-dictated changes are likely temporary, but they have changed interactions in CECS (for the better in my opinion).

How and/or when did you know that it was the Electrical Engineering that excited you?
RA: As far back as I can remember. I thought computer-based automatic control came under mechanical engineering. I went with my father to see the dean of engineering at the local university to discuss my interest, and he said I was describing electrical engineering.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
RA: Spend time with my family

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve either worked on?
RA: Most interesting and also most recent is working with 10 high school teachers who have participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF), Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program titled Engineering and Data Analytics in Smart Cities. My role as the principal investigator allowed me to work very closely with the teachers, mentors and collaborators and to witness 5 different research projects in real time. I was also able to share many activities in a great research environment with participants in concurrent NSF research program (another RET and a Research Experiences for Undergraduates, REU).

What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for tea?
RA: Any UTC person (student, faculty, administrator, collaborator) who would be excited to share stories (about work, learning, research, history, etc.) is, in my eyes, THE celebrity to meet at Starbucks.

For what are you most grateful today?
RA: Everything.

What are some of the apps you use most often on your phone or apps that you’ve discovered are pretty neat?
RA: Recently, the voice recorder app pre-installed on my phone has been saving me. When Zoom does not record audio, I use the voice recorder and later synch it with the video.

What advice would you give to someone in their 20s?
RA: If you decide to do something (anything), do it well. Often you need to first learn (the hard way) and practice how to do anything well.

Thank you, Dr. Ahmed, for your dedication to the college and commitment to the students and their educational journey.

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