Virginia Tech faculty member Jim Egenrieder has earned national recognition from the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) for his commitment to helping students acquire the skills needed to build successful technical careers. 

Egenrieder was chosen from among five finalists as the 2023 ACTE National Postsecondary Professional of the Year. The award recognizes career and technical education (CTE) teachers who have demonstrated outstanding classroom innovation, student mentorship, and dedication to improving CTE opportunities. 

Egenrieder has ample experience teaching and developing curriculum in agriculture, biology, life sciences, technology and engineering education, earth/space science, and health and medical sciences. In 2008, he became one of the country’s first schools-based STEM and CTE specialists after running Virginia Tech’s Math and Science Education programs in Northern Virginia. 

“CTE represents the 'T' and the 'E' in STEM, and the applied sciences and applied mathematics,” said Egenrieder, “and it’s the part of secondary and post-secondary education that is most responsive to employers and workforce demands.” 

Egenrieder is now a research faculty member in the College of Engineering, and he has served on the teaching faculty of Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability since 2011, where he specializes in biodiversity, watershed systems, and sustainable energy, advocacy, and stewardship. He was also a lead educator in designing and implementing all eight new high school courses in the new 17th career cluster in energy.

In the College of Engineering, he directs the Thinkabit Lab at Virginia Tech’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, which serves K-12 students and their teachers, primarily from Title I schools and other under-resourced schools. The lab provides engaging STEM experiences focusing on physical computing and creative robotics, preparing for the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence-driven future workforce, and essential skills such as problem-solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration. In addition to running the makerspace lab, Egenrieder has helped develop over 30 new makerspaces or STEM labs in schools, libraries, and community nonprofits in the greater Washington, D.C., metro area and beyond.

Jim Egenrieder. Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools.
Jim Egenrieder teaches in the Thinkabit Lab in the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church. Photo courtesy of Fairfax County Public Schools.

The Thinkabit Lab is supported by the Center for Enhancement for Engineering Diversity, as well as Virginia Tech’s School of Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Center Executive Director Bevlee Watford praised Egenrieder’s depth of expertise and strong command of the facility for the past seven years.

“My first interaction with the Thinkabit Lab was at the huge opening we had at the facility with both Qualcomm and Virginia Tech leadership attending,” said Watford, also the College of Engineering’s associate dean for equity and engagement. “I had already read Jim’s impressive resume, and I was hopeful that his exceptionally strong ties to the STEM community, both regionally and nationally, would help the lab be successful. After meeting Jim, and watching the way he has managed and grown the lab to what it is today, I know its continued success is assured with his leadership.” 

Egenrieder currently serves on nearly a dozen boards of directors, citizen advisory committees, and regional workforce and Cooperative Extension councils, helping to advocate for CTE and STEM initiatives on the local, state, and federal level. He is a fellow and president emeritus of the Washington Academy of Sciences, where he also serves on the Journal Board of Editors, and he heads the Department of Defense Northern Virginia STEM Learning Ecosystem. 

Egenrieder earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences at Pennsylvania State University. He earned both his master’s degree in math and science education and his doctorate  in science and literacy curriculum and instruction at Virginia Tech. 

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