Welcome Elif Kongar, PhD

Welcome Elif Kongar, PhD

Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research

Prior to joining Fairfield, you were a professor at the University of Bridgeport. What drew you to the field?
Prior to joining Fairfield, I was a professor of technology management and mechanical engineering, and the chair of the Technology Management Department at the School of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport (UB). My professional background is in industrial engineering.

My inspiration comes from my parents. My mother was the first female general manager of an insurance company in Europe and my father was a sociology professor. I learned the value of education at an early age and dedicated my whole life to academic pursuits. I had extraordinary role models, especially STEM teachers who played an important role in my decision to pursue a career in STEM. I am, however, also a literature, art, and drama enthusiast who was lucky enough to choose a discipline that allowed me to combine creativity and analytical thinking in my work. Industrial engineering is a perfect bridge between decision makers and engineers, which allows interpersonal and analytical skills to grow concurrently.

Can you tell me about your research on economic and environmental sustainability?
I am passionate about my research that aims to create environmental and social sustainability models for circular economies. My main goal as a scholar is to add value to the discipline and to society. By working on creating economically feasible and environmentally benign solutions, I feel like I can contribute to both more easily than in any other research field. I also believe it is the responsibility of every scholar to add value to society. Upon arrival to Fairfield University, I became the faculty advisor for the Engineers without Borders student organization.

Can you tell me about your involvement in encouraging women to join the STEM field?
With rapidly advancing technologies, fostering a culture of continuous, interdisciplinary learning for groups that are historically underrepresented is important. Mentoring underrepresented women by equipping them with skills is crucial if we are to accommodate for this changing technological environment. Women in STEM also suffer from a lack of networking opportunities. In this regard, I aspire to build long-term collaborations in the form of women-led mentorship opportunities.

As a leader, I am committed to promoting an inclusive culture, being fully aware that collaboration among diverse groups is the best way to cultivate innovation and creativity. I am the department editor of the IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management journal and an active member of various national and international technical committees, advisory boards, program committees, and editorial boards, which allows me to interact with and support many STEM women. I also serve as an elected member of the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society Board of Governors and chair of the IEEE TEMS Professional Training and Education Ad Hoc Committee. Under the leadership of Barbara Porter, chief operating officer at Fragrance.com, we recently initiated a podcast series where we primarily interview women in STEM.

What excites you the most about becoming the associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research at Fairfield’s School of Engineering? What do you most look forward to in your first year?
I look forward to continuing to strengthen our collaboration with other schools and offices to grow our programs and offer new ones that will put us on the international map. I would like to realign our curriculum and create more visibility to attract a wide range of industry professionals and engineering graduates.

I’m also interested in teaching subjects both inside and outside my area of expertise. I firmly believe that today we are responsible for training students for job titles that do not yet exist. I also look forward to being more involved in student organizations, increasing research activities and grant applications, and contributing to a culture of support and scholarship based on mutual respect and collaboration.

Tags:  School of Engineering

Last modified: 01-04-22 3:16 PM

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