Olga Pierrakos, Ph.D. headshot

Olga Pierrakos, Ph.D.

Founding Chair and Professor, Department of Engineering

Wake Forest University

Dr. Olga Pierrakos points to innovation and inclusion as the cornerstones for achieving transformation and excellence.

As Founding Chair and Professor of the Wake Forest University (WFU in Winston Salem, NC) Department of Engineering, she is committed to Educating the Whole Engineer and building a team and program that embraces the uniqueness of the institution, Liberal Arts Education at a Research University, where tradition and innovation come together. An inclusive culture and innovative curriculum has led to a diverse student body of 40% female engineering students and 20% minority engineering students, as well as a diverse faculty body with 60% female faculty. A second time for Pierrakos to serve as founding faculty, the first time at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA), she brings immense expertise to engineering education.

Prior to coming to WFU, Pierrakos served as Program Director at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Undergraduate Education in the Directorate of Education and Human Resources. Dr. Pierrakos is an innovative teacher-scholar who engages her students as active participants in the classroom and in diverse scholarly areas. Her areas of expertise include engineering education (i.e. recruitment and retention, design thinking, pedagogy, student motivation, engineering identity, complex problem solving, assessment), biomedical engineering (i.e. cardiovascular fluid mechanics, prosthetic heart valve performance), and sustainable energy systems (i.e. drag reducing devices, micro wind turbines).

Dr. Pierrakos has BS and MS degrees in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the joint program between Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. She has mentored over 200 students on research and design projects, served as investigator to external funding totaling over $4 million, and published over 140 peer-reviewed publications. She and her husband have four amazing children.