PNW Pioneer

Chenn Q. Zhou created with engineering and passion

Chenn Q. Zhou, professor of mechanical engineering, plans for her classes.

Chenn Q. Zhou, professor of mechanical engineering, plans for her classes.

Ashley Granados

Ashley Granados

Chenn Q. Zhou, professor of mechanical engineering, plans for her classes.

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Chenn Q. Zhou, professor of mechanical engineering, won the Outstanding Faculty Engagement Award in 2017. The award is given to candidates who show leadership and have a significant impact on the university, community and professional society.

“I felt deeply honored and humbled. I started to think about how many people I needed to thank. It is countless,” Zhou said. “I am very grateful to all the people who have supported me since I joined PNW 23 years ago.”

Zhou is also the director of the Center for Innovation Through Visualization and Simulation and the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization center.

Zhou knew she wanted to become a teacher at a young age. She grew up in a family of educators and was motivated by teachers and professors to pursue her dreams and become a university professor.

She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in power engineering at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in China. Zhou received her doctorate degree in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Zhou said she was motivated to pursue a degree in engineering so that she can make an impact on people and the world. One of the ways she has been able to live up to that goal was by establishing CIVS and SMSVC.

The CIVS and SMSVC are research facilities located at the Hammond campus. CIVS, which was established in 2009, combines advanced simulation techniques with 3-D visualization and virtual reality technologies. SMSVC was established in 2016 and addresses major technological issues and related barriers that inhibit the growth of advanced manufacturing in the steel industry.

Zhou, who has benefited from organizations since grade school, believes that organizations help young professionals grow and provide great networking opportunities and platforms for promoting positive culture, technologies and technical knowledge.

Bethany Whitaker, senior mechanical engineering major, was one of the individuals who nominated Zhou for the award. 

“She encourages her students to strive for his or her best and to recognize the importance of his or her work as a college student and the impact that work can have on their career and future,” Whitaker said. “I have had only one female teacher at PNW in my undergraduate studies of mechanical engineering. It was inspiring to see another woman in a leadership position within PNW.”

Zhou takes pleasure in working with her students and seeing them succeed. She hopes that her students can take away three things from her teaching: a deep understanding of fundamental knowledge and its applications, problem-solving and communication skills and life-long learning skills.

Zhou enjoys her career as a college professor because she gets to work with students who are interested in her field of study and see their progress.

“I love to see how students grow. It always makes my day when I hear high praise of our students from my collaborators and when students tell me how much they learned and how their research experience has helped them with jobs and graduate school,” Zhou said.

Zhou’s advice to college students is to get a very good foundation of knowledge relating to your major, conduct student research projects and participate in one or two student organizations.

Apart from teaching and helping students, Zhou enjoys traveling, music, karaoke, reading, art, photography, table tennis, yoga and Zumba.

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