Theda Daniels-Race

Theda Daniels-Race

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Louisiana State University

Milestones

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
My mom was an elementary schoolteacher and gave me my first science book. I loved it!
At age 5, I asked my dad to explain "PhD". I figured to "do science," I'd need a "doctor title."
As a high school teacher/guidance counselor, my dad gave me a "women in engineering" brochure.
I joined my high school's speech and debate team to be "well-rounded" as my mom always taught.
I found that I liked to know "why"; why things worked in the ways that they did.
My grandmother let me tear apart her old radios; an uncle gave me his Army electronics books.
For college I looked for a school with strong science and engineering programs.
From there, I just kept going. I briefly considered an MBA, but the desire for a PhD stuck with me.
Keep following my journey
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
Electrical Engineering
Rice University
graduate
Graduate
Electrical Engineering
Stanford University
doctorate
Doctorate
Electrical Engineering
Cornell University
Career

Career

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

I conduct research, teach, and mentor students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Science
Science
Education
Education
Learning / Being Challenged
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

When most people think of a professor they think "teacher," and that is true. However, my work entails the two other "pillars of professorship"--research and service. On any given day, my research involves everything from grant writing, to presenting experimental results at conferences, to guiding students through their own masters and PhD programs. My service consists of working with an array of university committees that make decisions affecting both faculty and students.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

I tell my students to hone their communication skills, both oral and written. It's no secret that we engineers and scientists are often guilty of being poor communicators, but being able to communicate, especially to the general public, is essential. I love that show "Big Bang Theory," but we're not all that bad! The other thing needed is imagination. You must be willing to step into the unknown because in STEM you won't be hired to solve problems for which the answers are already known!

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for middle school students

I think it's important to get started as soon as you can. In one sense, I decided I wanted to get a doctorate when I was 5 years old, but I didn't know that I wanted to be a professor until many years later. These fine-tuned decisions can come as "late" as undergraduate or graduate school. So I think what you need to do early on is identify whether or not you have the patience for this field—it takes a lot of education, a lot of research into which direction to go...it can be a slow process!

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:

undergrad
Bachelor
Electrical Engineering
graduate
Graduate
Electrical Engineering
doctorate
Doctorate
Electrical Engineering
Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

""Going to college? I bet you're looking for an "Mrs. degree!""

Once my mom told a shop owner I was going to college next year. He laughed and asked if I wanted an "Mrs. degree". Even as a teenager, I was ticked off! There are people who can't fathom women in STEM—especially women of color. Oftentimes as the only African-American and/or female in situations, I STILL run into those subtle doubts or even insults at times. However, I've found that a tough skin, a determined mind, and a prayerful heart can take you through any challenge and to any goal.

Challenges I Overcame

Being an African-American female in STEM,
Being an African-American female in STEM,

I laugh when I hear, "Race relations are fine—we have a black president!" There's definitely still a distinct lack of WOC in my field. So I've just worked my guts out, found supportive mentors, and I strive to lead in all that I do.