portrait of Sirena Hargrove-LeakA visionary professor in Elon’s flourishing engineering program, Sirena Hargrove-Leak stands out for her student-centered teaching methods that blend engineering principles with real-world community needs.

Her leadership in and out of the classroom ensures Elon’s Department of Engineering generates leaders who are passionate about using their knowledge and skills to help meet humanity’s needs in their local communities and beyond. She developed the Engineering Design for Service course, required of all engineering graduates, to connect students with clients in the community to prototype solutions that improve their quality of life. Collaborations with colleagues in the Department of Physical Therapy Education have been particularly fulfilling because of immersive experiences to sharpen communication with clients and opportunities to engage with DPT students.

Hargrove-Leak pioneers approaches to STEM teaching that enhance access and success in STEM fields among underrepresented populations, receiving national recognition for her work in 2021 as a Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network Engineering Unleashed Fellow and as part of an Elon team partnering with other institutions through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“She helped me see how I can find my place and have success in a very male-dominated career. I can’t imagine approaching projects and problems without the mindset she emphasized in our courses.”

– Mallory Poff ’23, currently a graduate student in Duke University’s Mechanical Engineering and Material Science Program

Promoting inclusivity, she integrates diverse perspectives in engineering courses, serves as a role model for underrepresented students in STEM, particularly women and students of color, at Elon University. ”I firmly believe that each student has the potential to use creative problem-solving to enact positive change. By using a variety of innovative teaching and learning techniques, I challenge students to nurture and grow their potential.”