Speaker biography(Use for speaking engagements at conferences and events; updated April 2014)
Lorena A. Barba has a PhD in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology and BSc/PEng degrees in mechanical engineering from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Chile. She is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Prof. Barba has previously lived in England and Chile (where she grew up) and has several years of experience in higher education. She is an advocate of open-source software for science and open educational resources, and shares her courseware on iTunesU and You Tube. She is also interested in education technology, social learning and the recent spread of massively open online courses, as well as innovations in STEM education, including flipped classrooms and other forms of blended learning.
Prof. Barba received the NSF Faculty Early CAREER award (2012), was named CUDA Fellow by NVIDIA Corp. (2012), is an awardee of the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) First Grant program (2007), is an Amelia Earhart Fellow of the Zonta Foundation (1999) and a leader in computational science and engineering internationally. Her research includes computational fluid dynamics, high-performance computing, computational biophysics and animal flight.
And on Twitter:
- PhD Aeronautics (2004), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (minor in French).
- MSc Aeronautics (1999), California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
- Title of professional Engineer — Ingeniero Civil Mecánico (1998), Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria.
- BSc Mechanical Engineering (1989), Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria, Valparaiso, Chile.
Lorena was born in Valparaíso, Chile. She is the oldest of three daughters of Jorge Eusebio Barba Gianotti (1940-1984) and Rosalinda Maritza Martinic Vrsalovic-Carevic. Commander Barba was an Officer of the Chilean Navy, and died in a civil aviation accident. Rosalinda lives in Reñaca, a lovely seaside town-like area of the tourist resort city Viña del Mar.
Lorena grew up in Viña del Mar. She and the family spent two years in Maryland, USA, while her father was appointed to the Chilean Naval Attaché in Washington, D.C. This meant learning English at an early age, which she ascribes as a determining factor in her future career success.
She received pilot training from her father since the age of 15 (not formally at first), then after obtaining the Student Pilot's Licence as soon as she turned 17 (the minimum age), logged her first solo flight. She was given a special award by the Naval Flying Club to finish her pilot training after her father's accident, and obtained her licence before starting University. The life-changing experience of becoming a pilot (including the many hours spent with the maintenance staff at the flying club, chatting and helping), determined her to a career in science and engineering.
Her first technical interest was aerodynamics, and she wished to be an aeronautical engineer. Unfortunately, no chilean university had a degree program in this subjec; only the Chilean Air Force did, but they did not accept women back then.
It would be several years later that Lorena participated in the opening of doors for women in Chile to be Air Force Officers, as she was invited to be part of the first program for women in the Air Force Reserve in 1995 (she holds the rank of Second Lieutenant, since 2001). Only 13 chilean women were invited to take part in this program, of which nine were private pilots. In 2001, for the first time women were able to participate in the general selection process of the Air Force Academy of Chile.