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Dr. Sara A. Atwood

Associate Professor

Department Chair

Engineering and Physics

Elizabethtown College


160 C Esbenshade

One Alpha Drive

Elizabethtown, PA 17022






Sara Atwood received a B.A. and M.S. in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Atwood wants to develop engineers who can not just solve problems, but also know which problems to solve. She is passionate about teaching engineers in a liberal arts setting, supporting first-generation college students in engineering, and encouraging students to use engineering skills to make the world a better place.


Dr. Atwood believes that: students are capable of more than they think when simultaneously challenged and supported; students are motivated to learn when the material is connected to their life experiences and interests, and students learn best when offered multiple opportunities for active practice with effective feedback. To accomplish these goals, she creates a classroom environment that engages students in activities, demonstrations, problem-solving, and discussions of case studies and current events. She has won several teaching awards at Elizabethtown, including Faculty Merit for Teaching and Advising, Student Senate Engaging Educator nomination, Center for Civic and Community Engagement Faculty Award, and Emerging Scholars Faculty Mentor.


Her research interests in engineering education, biomedical design, and societal impact are implemented in and out of the classroom by bringing creativity and real-world examples into lectures and design projects, as well as offering undergraduates the opportunity to do research. Her engineering education research involves creativity in engineering education, engineering identity formation of first-generation college students, and creative fiction assignments to facilitate engineering ethics instruction. Other research centers on materials and designs used in orthopaedic devices and simple engineering solutions to help the disadvantaged, such as a vibrating therapy vest for cerebral palsy patients and mechanical devices to help the elderly. She has received over $750,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation, and has published multiple articles in the top engineering education and biomaterials journals.


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.