Jennifer Bernhard
Dr Jennifer Bernhard
Professor, University of Illinois
Urbana, IL

More Engineers!

Marjory Anderson
Mounya Elhilali
Chris Wolfe
Michi Whittall
Beth Jones
Ruth Gay
Sunita Satyapal
Jenn Dandrea
Kristy Rasbach
Priyadarshini Singha
Krista Murphy
Kathy Moseler
Close Up
  • What I Do
    I'm a professor, so my work has many pieces. I'm a teacher, I'm an engineer, I'm a researcher, and I'm an advisor and mentor. What all of this means is that I get to do lots of different things every day and I get to think about and work on really cool engineering problems. In particular, my work and teaching is largely in electromagnetics and antennas, which are critical pieces of wireless communication and sensing systems.
  • Why Engineering?
    In the beginning, I chose engineering because I was good in school in math and science and I enjoyed solving problems. The cool part about engineering that often gets missed, which I discovered later on, is that engineering is actually all about creativity and imagination in solving problems -- the math and science are just the tools we use to solve them. Engineering is fundamentally a creative endeavor that is really responsible for the advancement of mankind. Engineers are responsible for past and future innovations that provide clean water and air, seamless communication, technology-assisted health-care, and world travel and commerce, just to name a few. Engineering is one of the best ways I know of to make people's lives better, so please give it a try!
  • School Days
    I went to Cornell University for my undergraduate BS degree and Duke University for my MS and PhD degrees.
  • My Day At Work
    My favorite activity in my work is interacting with people, especially my students. Other than that, in research and in teaching, many of my fundamental activities are the same -- figuring out creative and innovative ways to solve new problems and, in the process, making people's lives better and safer. Sometimes the problems are really difficult, but those are often the ones that give me the most satisfaction once we've solved them.
  • Best Part
    I love the creative process of engineering. Applying one's own unique experiences and knowledge to a problem necessarily results in a unique solution -- one that someone else with different experiences and knowledge might never come up with.
  • Proud Moments
    I'm most proud of all of my students. They are not only great engineers, researchers, and thinkers, but they are also wonderful, well-rounded individuals.
  • Challenges
    Of course, one of the biggest challenges that any woman faces in the pursuit of an engineering career is the fact that there are not yet enough role models out there to make engineering a natural choice for intelligent, creative girls as it should be. Figuring out that I wanted to be one of those role models helped me to not worry about whether or not I was the only girl in the class.
  • My Family
    I am married to a wonderful man (who is a professor of political science) and we have two fabulous children: a daughter (age 8) and a son (age 3). One of the best things about pursuing careers as professors is that our schedules are flexible enough that we can spend a lot more time with our children and fit our work in around their activities.
  • Dreams and Goals
    My short term goal is to become more vocal and active in bringing women into my field of engineering. My long term goal (admittedly, a big one) is to figure out new ways to communicate to our whole society how important and creative engineering is. I pursue this in the hope that more girls and women will see engineering as a rewarding career that can have tremendous impact on people's lives.
  • Inspiration
    This is a long list. My parents, my husband, my two advisers, my students, and my children all constantly influence my life choices. My parents are always supportive of my decisions and fundamentally provided a strong foundation for me. My husband is my biggest fan and knowing that always gives me strength to keep pursuing my goals. My advisers, one from Cornell and one from Duke, both encouraged me and helped me to see the beauty of engineering as both a science and an art. My students remind me that there are always new things to learn. Finally, my children remind me of how important it is to have balance in one's life.
  • Want to be an Engineer?
    I always advise women going into engineering to be proactive in finding the support system and mentors that they need to help them fulfill their goals.
  • Additional Thoughts
    I always advise women going into engineering to be proactive in finding the support system and mentors that they need to help them fulfill their goals.
  • Hobbies
    With two small children at home, I don't have much time for hobbies at the moment, but I do love to read mysteries and historical fiction. I'm also addicted to Sudoku puzzles at the moment.
Biography

I'm a professor, so my work has many pieces. I'm a teacher, I'm an engineer, I'm a researcher, and I'm an advisor and mentor. What all of this means is that I get to do lots of different things every day and I get to think about and work on really cool engineering problems. In particular, my work and teaching is largely in electromagnetics and antennas, which are critical pieces of wireless communication and sensing systems.

Read More Read Less
Latest Questions
  • Sarah, Irvine asked Jennifer Bernhard, University of Illinois

    Added Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    Hi Professor Bernhard, My name is Sarah and this is my second year of community college and I decided to switch to engineering. Right now I created a plan for my classes as a general engineering major, but I'm afraid universities will not accept me with that major. I really want to know what to apply as, but I am unsure which field of engineering is write for me. Or is general engineering good to apply as a transfer?
    Answers 1
    Jennifer Bernhard, University of Illinois
    Answered Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 12:02 PM

    Dear Sarah,

    I'm so excited that you’re ready to become an engineer!  General engineering means different things at different schools, but usually the first two years of courses at any institution are roughly the same for all engineering ...

    Read More
  • Kathryn, Port Angles, Washington asked Jennifer Bernhard, University of Illinois

    Added Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 6:26 PM

    Hello my name is Kathryn, I'm 11 years old and I was wondering what inspired you to become a professor because I'm so into engineering right now so I'm just trying to pick up info about it and I'm asking a bunch of different engineers that I'm into am are reading about. If there are any facts on engineering that are really important and you would like to share please I'm always open for more info.
    Related to Choosing a Degree
    Answers 1
    Jennifer Bernhard, University of Illinois
    Answered Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 6:26 PM

    Dear Kathryn,

    I decided to become a professor because I love learning, I love teaching, and I love being able to work on the kinds of technical problems that I find interesting and that make a difference in the way people communicate – I study ...

    Read More
  • Saw Zi, Butterworth asked Jennifer Bernhard, University of Illinois

    Added Monday, January 4, 2016 at 12:08 AM

    Hi, I just graduated from my secondary school. I'm good in science and math. However I'm struggling in making decision, is mechatronic engineering same as EE? And what kind of job can I apply after I finish my diploma in mechatronis or EE?
    Related to Choosing a Degree, Special fields and Interdisciplinary
    Answers 1
    Jennifer Bernhard, University of Illinois
    Answered Monday, January 4, 2016 at 12:08 AM
    Dear Saw Zi,
     
    Mechatronic engineering has a variety of definitions, but in general, it is the combination of using electrical engineering and mechanical engineering to develop robots, tools, or other devices that achieve a goal, whether that is ...
    Read More
View More