Emerging Engineering Educator

Sandra Pettit, Ph.D., P.E., F.SWE

University of South Florida

For scholarly contributions in peer-to-peer instructional methods; for inspirational role modeling backed by real-world experience; and for demonstrating the skills that define an exceptional educator.

Sandra Pettit, Ph.D., P.E., F.SWE, is the associate chair for undergraduate studies in the department of chemical, biological, and materials engineering at the University of South Florida (USF).

Prior to joining academia, Dr. Pettit gained more than 15 years of industrial experience in manufacturing, plant design, and construction with companies including Procter & Gamble, Jacobs Engineering, and TECO Energy. In 2014, she transitioned into academia as a second career, joining the Georgia Institute of Technology as a lecturer.

Dr. Pettit’s dedication to student success led to the development of a learning assistant/peer leader program in engineering, which incorporated undergraduate students into the teaching process. The program, recognized by USF Student Affairs and Success with an Academic Excellence Award, includes pedagogical training in establishing credibility, building rapport, equity and inclusivity, and active learning techniques. Other student success initiatives include the creation of an undergraduate student advisory board and service as an ABET evaluator.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Pettit was instrumental in the department’s transition to remote/hybrid learning. As a participant in the USF Canvas/IT Workgroup, she kept the department informed of technology changes and best practices for remote and hybrid delivery and developed take-home kits so that seniors could continue to conduct fluid flow and pumping experiments. Dr. Pettit’s remote/take-home lab adaptations were recognized in 2021 with a USF Student Affairs & Success Academic Excellence Award.

A SWE Fellow and life member, Dr. Pettit joined in 1991. She was named a SWE Distinguished New Engineer in 2001 and has served in numerous leadership roles. Her FY22 service included the finance and bylaws committees. She served as secretary for the FY20-21 board of directors and is a regular contributor to the SWEet Wisdom column for SWE’s Women in Academia. Dr. Pettit participated in the yearlong Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering program and has presented pedagogical sessions at multiple SWE conferences.

She has served on the board of the Central Florida section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and as a director for the USF Alumni Association. She is a recipient of the USF Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching, a USF Golden Bull Award for outstanding leadership and service, and a USF Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award. She is published in peer-reviewed journals and other publications.

Dr. Pettit holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida, where she was a USF Signature Research Fellow and a member of the Heterogeneous Catalysis & Materials Chemistry Group.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling with her husband Ron to experience new cultures, food, history, and nature. Adventures have led them through 45 states, two U.S. territories, and 11 countries.