SWE Distinguished New Engineer
Jennifer Winikus, Ph.D.
University at Buffalo
For incorporating ethics into the computer science and engineering curriculum; for supporting all aspects of diversity in STEM; and for teaching students how to make a difference in the world.
Jennifer Winikus, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of teaching at the University at Buffalo in New York. Her interest in pedagogy began in graduate school and has guided her to develop curriculum for the next generation of engineers in computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering.
While a student at Alfred University, she focused on electronic materials for electrical engineering. Her experiences as a graduate teaching assistant and instructor at Michigan Technological University sparked her interest in becoming an educator.
When Dr. Winikus joined the University at Buffalo, she took on a rigorous teaching and research schedule. Within four years at the university, she has contributed as a co-primary investigator (Co-PI) to more than $10 million in grant proposals focused on efforts to integrate computer science into K-12 classes, improve collegiate computer science and computer engineering classes, and incorporate ethics into existing courses. Nearly $200,000 of the grants have been awarded toward these projects.
Dr. Winikus was a Co-PI for a $150,000 grant awarded by the Mozilla Foundation to “pilot curricula that integrate ethics with undergraduate computer science training, to educate a new wave of engineers who bring holistic thinking to the design of technology products.” She developed a module for the first-year seminar “Internet, Computing and Society” on History and Society, which is now required of all computer science and engineering majors. Dr. Winikus created all the lecture material, recitation activities, and homework assignments. She also taught the module to over 600 students.
The substantial impact of her technical accomplishments is seen in how she prepares students for STEM careers. Dr. Winikus has instructed more than 3,300 students in a wide range of majors. She has been an academic advisor to over 20 students and has supervised more than 20 undergraduate research assistants. Her passion extends to the development and running of CSE-xplore, the youth outreach program in the department of computer science and engineering at the University at Buffalo, which has provided experiences to over 200 pre-college students in three years.
Dr. Winikus’ journey in the Society of Women Engineers has been in sync with her career as an academic. Her involvement began after she gave her first technical presentation at the 2014 Region H conference. She became a co-director of Michigan Technological University’s GradSWE and organized a writing group to offer peer support and motivation to graduate students as they completed their dissertations.
When she began teaching at the University at Buffalo, she sought ways to become more involved on the Society level: first, with the curriculum committee, then with the Women in Academia committee. Now the faculty advisor of the University at Buffalo SWE section, her presence and support among graduate students led to establishing a GradSWE community. She mentors more than 30 students as they transition to internships, graduate school, and careers. Dr. Winikus also was the FY21 chair of the WE Local advisory board and currently is chair-elect to the Women in Academia committee. She has held many different positions in the Western New York Section, including FY22 vice president.
She holds a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering from Alfred University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer engineering from Michigan Technological University. Outside of STEM-related activities, Dr. Winikus enjoys watching science fiction television and movies.