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Donna Riley

Donna Riley

Donna Riley is the department head of Engineering Education at Princeton University.

She has previously served as interim department head of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech and as program director for engineering education at the National Science Foundation.


Early Life and Education

Riley attended middle and high school at the Westridge School for Girls from 1982-1989.

[3]As a teen, she began to develop an interest in social justice and environmental issues.

When she went to college, her negative experiences with the misogyny she faced as a female engineering student led her to get involved in her University Women's Center and become a more outspoken advocate for women's rights.

Riley earned her B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering and Environmental Studies from Princeton University in 1993.

[3] In 1998, she earned her Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.



Postdoctoral Fellowships

After receiving her Ph.D.,

Riley returned to Princeton as a postdoctoral fellow. There,

she studied electronic markets for second-hand goods, the industrial ecology of mercury, and the cultural and religious uses of mercury. In

2000, she became a AAAS Fellow in Science and Technology Policy for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where she continued her mercury research. [3]

Smith College

Riley was an associate professor at Smith College from 2001 to 2014.

[3] While there, she was a founding faculty member of the Picker Engineering Program, the first engineering program at a US women’s college and one of the few of such programs to intersect with the liberal arts.

[1] In addition to teaching classes and serving as an advisor to many students, Riley conducted research in engineering education, air quality, and consumer product risk.

Her education research also intersected with ethics and gender studies.


National Science Foundation

After leaving Smith College, Riley took up a position as director of the Engineering Education Program at NSF.

Here she managed several programs focused on addressing problems in the educational system and creating an environment that "offers diverse pathways to engineering careers to all members of society and that dynamically and rapidly adapts to meet the changing needs of society and the nation's economy."

Her programs also served to recognize outstanding engineering education faculty and to enable them to enact change.


Virginia Tech

In 2014, Riley began working at Virginia Tech, where she was a professor of engineering education and an affiliate faculty member in Science and Technology in Society and in Women's and Gender Studies.

As at Smith, she conducted research in engineering education intersecting with ethics and gender studies.

[3] In June 2016, she was appointed interim department head of engineering education.


Purdue University

In July 2017, Riley left Virginia Tech to become the Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, where she remains today.



Riley is the author of two books,Engineering and Social JusticeandEngineering Thermodynamics and 21st Century Energy Problems.

[2] The former serves to introduce engineers to social justice theories and practices, while the latter is a companion text to the traditional thermodynamics curriculum meant to place the subject matter in a broader social context.

[5] [6] Additionally,


Citation Linkpurdue.eduAn article introducing Donna Riley as the new head of Engineering Education at Purdue.
Aug 12, 2017, 8:55 PM
Citation Linknae.eduBiography on Riley from the National Academy of Engineering.
Aug 12, 2017, 9:06 PM
Citation Linkvtnews.vt.eduArticle on Riley being appointed as interim head of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.
Aug 12, 2017, 9:07 PM
Citation Linklinkedin.comRiley's LinkedIn page.
Aug 12, 2017, 9:10 PM
Citation Linkblogs.umass.eduAn interview with Riley about social justice and her work in engineering education.
Aug 12, 2017, 9:18 PM
Citation Linkamazon.comAmazon review of Engineering and Social Justice.
Aug 13, 2017, 7:49 PM
Citation Linkmorganclaypool.comThe abstract from Engineering Thermodynamics and 21st Century Energy Problems
Aug 13, 2017, 7:50 PM