Fidelia Nnadi

Associate Professor and Director Office of Diversity and Inclusion for the College of Engineering and Computer Science 2016 Womens History Month

What is your current job title and responsibilities (please make sure we know your College, Department, etc.)?
Director – College of Engineering and Computer Science, Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Write proposals and administer contracts; advocate for underrepresented students, staff and faculty. Develop programs to promote retention and persistence of underrepresented students. Promoting graduate education for underrepresented students through research and mentorship.

Assoc. Prof. – Department of Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering
Teaching courses related to Water Resources Engineering – Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulics, Open Channel Hydraulics, Water Resources engineering, and design, River Mechanics and Sediment Transport.
Conducting research in the areas of Bioremediation, Environmental Hydraulics, River studies, and Water Resources Engineering with applications to civil, agricultural, industrial and environmental systems. Working on several sponsored and unsponsored research projects. Developed and coordinated a program on West African Graduate Engineering Exchange.

What is your history at UCF and before UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
Aug. 1994 – July 2000: Assistant Professor – Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida
Taught courses related to Water Resources Engineering – Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulics, Hydrology, Water Resources engineering, and design, River Mechanics and Sediment Transport.
Developed and conducted research in the areas of Environmental Hydraulics, River studies, and Water Resources engineering with applications to civil, agricultural, industrial and environmental systems. Worked on several sponsored and unsponsored research projects.

April 1992 – June 1994: Post-doctoral FellowDepartment of Civil Engineering, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Taught courses related to environmental hydraulics and sediment transport. Studied Contaminated Bottom Sediment Dispersal in Hamilton Harbour. Developed a sediment transport model, which was used to study the contaminated sediment dispersal in Hamilton Harbour, Ontario Canada. A modified version of the model was applied to the Lake Ontario Benthic-Sediment assessment.

Sept. 1988 – March 1992: Research/Teaching Assistant – Department of Civil Engineering, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Teaching Assistant for Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulics, and Introduction to Environmental Engineering, Worked on several contracted projects in River Mechanics and Sediment Transport.

Jan. 1983 – Aug. 1988: Lecturer: Imo State College of Agriculture, Umuagwo, Nigeria
Taught courses in Fluid Mechanics, Hydraulics, Mathematics and Engineering Geology. Co-ordinated and supervised senior design projects.

Jan. 1983- Aug. 1988: Works EngineerImo State College of Agriculture, Umuagwo, Nigeria
Responsible for the day to day operation of the engineering works department.

June. 1981- Dec. 1982: Staff EngineerDesign & Build Engineers, Chicago, IL.
Part-time responsibilities include drafting and scheduling while married and starting my family.

What is your academic background?
Post-Doctoral Fellowship: McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, June 1994.
Major: Environmental Engineering
Ph.D.:        Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, March 1992.
Major:  Water Resources Engineering
B.Eng.:       University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. May 1981.
Major:        Double major in Civil/Environmental Engineering. (Summa Cum Laude)

What is your favorite UCF memory?
Since joining UCF, I have organized and participated in several activities relating to student education and personal enhancement. However, the most memorable of all was the “Day 1” of Camp Connect, a week summer pipeline program I developed to help improve student diversity in College of Engineering and Computer Science. This day was special and memorable because it was the first project I worked on after my appointment as the director of CECS ODI. The project was planned and executed in less than three months and not knowing what to expect, I was very nervous. However, that day came and it was smooth sailing with students and parents very excited for the unique opportunity accorded them to learn engineering and computer science. The camp was first of its kind at CECS UCF and it was a “big deal”.

If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
My job as well as those of my colleagues is to train and prepare engineers that will be part of designing and building infrastructure that will improve life, health and the global economy. To accomplish this, students are required to be exposed to both classroom and industrial experience. Currently here at UCF CECS we have enviable academic training but our internship programs cater for students with GPA 3.00 and above. In other to produce well prepared pupil engineers, I would like to see a system that will help ALL students gain industrial experience, as well as pass their “Engineer-in-Training” (EIT) exam before graduation.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Working very hard and playing very little equals unbalanced life because in doing that, we watch our lives pass by. However, appreciating life, living it, and being grateful for it makes a fulfilled life — life loves those who live it.

If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
That would be nice! I would like an endowment in named that will support underrepresented undergraduate students in engineering that aspire to pursue their doctorate degrees. Since my tenure as the director of UCF CECS Office of Diversity and Inclusion, I have watched with keen interest the financial burden underrepresented undergraduate students have, which forces them to enter the workforce immediately after graduating and not consider graduate education. So providing that financial resource will help in getting more of these students consider graduate education.

If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I would like a lunch date with president Hitt to learn of his plans for UCF student population growth, and to find out if enrolment will ever be capped at some point.

Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
There are a few special people I will like to thank for my progress at UCF. However, one that stood out is Dr. Essam Radwan of Civil, Environment and Construction Engineering (CECE) Department. Dr. Radwan went beyond the call of duty as the Chair to mentor and encourage me during my early career years. To date, he is always the first to congratulate me on my accomplishments.

Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
I started my undergraduate studies in civil engineering with emphasis in structures and one of my electives was Water and the Environment. The instructor, Dr. Ojiako (of blessed memory) was always dramatic with high intensity in his body language during lectures that I always looked forward to attending class. His inspiring attitude to the subject sparked my interest in environmental engineering. In order to experience his enthusiasm, I took more classes from him. This led to my double major in civil and environmental engineering in my undergraduate degree.

What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
As described earlier, the excitement from my undergraduate class in Water and the Environment by Dr. Ojiako was an experience that inspired me. The inspiration led to my current research interest in watershed management, dealing with both water quality and quantity in the environment.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
My favorite food is fufu and soup, an African delicacy that comprises of soup made from indigenous ingredients and served with fufu – a starchy dough made from wheat, cassava, corn, rice, or yam.

What is your favorite movie, book or music?
My favorite movie is “Coming to America” starring Eddie Murphy. This movie is a case in point of the perception of new immigrants when their history/background are not obvious. This perception quickly turns around when an element of value is accorded them. Watch it, it is hilarious.

What is your favorite vacation destination?
My favorite vacation destination is Jordan. Being able to journey in the past from the present was very intriguing, and watching the biblical Old Testament come to life was quite inspirational.

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Linda.Walters@ucf.edu

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Fran.Ragsdale@ucf.edu

Phone: 407-823-4240

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