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When Vidya Nandikolla was growing up in India, she admired her older brother, who was in engineering school. So she decided that she too would become an engineer. Her parents, however, had other ideas; they wanted her to go into medicine because she was strong in biology and insisted that she take the college entrance exams in both medicine and engineering to keep her options open. She ultimately prevailed and chose engineering. In a way, however, she went on to fulfill both dreams, because she has drawn on her interest in biology to become a specialist in biomedical engineering.
What did you study?
Nandikolla came to bioengineering in a roundabout way, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in India, then graduate degrees from Idaho State University, first a master’s in electrical engineering and then a Ph.D. in engineering and applied sciences, which is when she refined her focus on biomedical engineering.
What do you do?
Her research focuses primarily on system design of medical devices. She has designed an active foot bed for diabetics and developed optimization algorithms for an assistive device for patients whose hearts need help with left ventricular pumping.
Whatever she’s researching she introduces into her classroom so her students connect their learning with her research.
“I don’t believe in passive learning,” she says. “I bring it back into the classroom as an active part of my instruction.”
At CSUN, as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, Nandikolla will be teaching mechatronics and control systems and hopes to grow the master’s program in system dynamics and controls. She is excited because she feels the college is a good match for her interests and ambitions. She is also impressed with how fast CECS has been growing and with what faculty are doing in the college.
“I never felt a need to change my profession,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed every bit of it.”