New teaching faculty add industry experience, academic expertise to engineering school

Seven new teaching faculty members have joined the Vanderbilt School of Engineering for the 2022-2023 academic year, bringing industry experience—including from NASA and FedEx—as well as academic expertise, to enhance the classroom experience.

“The newest members of our teaching faculty add a combination of real-world experience and academic expertise to further strengthen Vanderbilt’s distinguished instructional reputation,” said Philippe Fauchet, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean of Engineering. “We welcome these new colleagues as they help develop the insights and skills of our future engineers.”

Lynne Cooper

Lynne Cooper, assistant professor of the practice of engineering management, joins Vanderbilt from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory after a 28-year career where she led the JPL Proposal Center. A former captain in the U.S. Air Force, Cooper’s role at NASA included working on multiple Mars missions, re-engineering the New Product Development process, and leading applied artificial intelligence research. She also managed the successful Mars Helicopter Proposal, which led to the Ingenuity Helicopter’s historic flight on Mars.

“My favorite part about joining Vanderbilt is that I know everything I’m teaching is highly relevant for my students’ future success,” Cooper said. “I’ve hired and mentored and promoted junior employees throughout my career and the soft skills make a big difference. Even if a person doesn’t want to go into management, the really fun engineering jobs are collaborative.” she said.

Cooper holds a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering and an M.S. in computer engineering, both from the University of Southern California, and a BS in electrical and computer engineering from Lehigh University. Prior to joining Vanderbilt, she served as an industry faculty member for engineering management at the University of Southern California’s Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and at Washington State University in the Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship.

Grayson McClain

Grayson McClain, associate professor of the practice of engineering management, comes to Vanderbilt from FedEx, where he developed and led a global process improvement strategy. He also served as director of engineering for FedEx’s autonomous delivery bot, Roxo, from concept through early road trials. Previously, he led engineering projects for consumer products at GE and began his career as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy.

“I am excited to teach classes that help students bridge the gap from the university to the workplace, and then beyond that for career growth,” said McClain, who graduated from Vanderbilt in 1996 with a B.E. in electrical engineering, He later earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Tennessee, respectively.

Walter Collett

Walter Collett, professor of the practice of electrical and computer engineering, was a member of the engineering faculty at Western Kentucky University for the past 18 years. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering and his Ph.D. in engineering from Tennessee Technological University where his doctoral research topic was investigating an electromagnetic wave technique to calculate radiation pressure forces on laser-driven micro-gears.

Four early-career academics have also joined the teaching faculty as assistant professors of the practice as well.

Gina Bai

Gina Bai earned a Ph.D. in computer science from North Carolina State University and worked in the Collaborative Software Engineering Laboratory. She received a B.S degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics from Wake Forest University. She joins the Department of Computer Science.

“My research interests fall into the intersection of software engineering and computer science education. In particular, I am interested in understanding and addressing the barriers and misconceptions that students have during software development, with a specific focus on software testing,” Bai said.

Charreau Bell

Charreau Bell is faculty director of Vanderbilt’s undergraduate data science minor. Bell also is a senior data scientist at the Vanderbilt Data Science Institute. In that role, she leads highly interdisciplinary teams of faculty, staff and students in answering research questions by leveraging data science tools and approaches. Her work focuses on training and empowering researchers and students across all disciplines in data science methods and facilitating scientific discovery and innovation across the university. She joins the Department of Computer Science.

Bell earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Vanderbilt. Her Ph.D. focused on creating new algorithms for understanding the resting state behavior of the brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Jon Ehrman

Jon Ehrman is the director of the SyBBURE Searle Undergraduate Research & Design Program at Vanderbilt. He oversees the creation and practice of research, personal, and professional mentoring sessions as well as broad technical training programs to enhance the research experience of 52 interdisciplinary undergraduate students. The mentoring team of the year-round program of two faculty, five staff and five graduate students are under his direction. Ehrman earned a B.S. in physics, mathematics and statistics in 2011 from Miami University, and a Ph.D. in physics from Vanderbilt in 2016. He joins the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

David Florian

David Florian has been a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Scott Guelcher, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. He received a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Vanderbilt, and earned a BASc in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia. His research focuses on modeling and imaging the bone-tumor microenvironment to study the complex process of metastatic seeding and outgrowth of tumor cells in the bone marrow. He joins the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Florian (aka Dr. D-Flo) “is an is an engineer with a passion for teaching and the open-source community.” He created the Dr. D-Flo YouTube channel to share his projects “in hopes of inspiring the next generation of DIYers.”

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314