Outstanding Educator &
Higher Education Leader
Dr. Mariappan “Jawa” Jawaharlal, Ph.D., is an award-winning, innovative higher education leader who is passionate about teaching. He currently serves as Interim Associate Vice President, Research, Innovation, and Economic Development (ORIED) at California State University, Sacramento. As Chief Research Officer, he oversees research administration and provides strategic leadership to grow research expenditures. Before stepping into the AVP role, he served as Associate Dean of Engineering & Computer Science College at California State University, Sacramento. He has thirty years of experience as an academic administrator, a professor of engineering, a community organizer, and an engineering industry professional and a pioneering entrepreneur in the field.
Dr. Jawa is also a thought leader in the field of engineering education. He is renowned for the innovative, comprehensive pedagogical approach toward engaging students in and beyond the classroom he has developed over the years. His contributions to research and leadership in forging opportunities for young women and underrepresented communities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) have marked him as an exemplary educator and conscientious community member. His achievements in this area include founding the Robotics Education through Active Learning (REAL) program. More than 10,000 elementary-school and middle-school students have pursued REAL. Dr. Jawa has also trained hundreds of schoolteachers to conduct the program in their classrooms. Each year REAL culminates in the Annual Robot Rally, the nation’s largest robotics event.
Dr. Jawa cofounded the Femineer Program, which is devoted to inspiring and empowering K-12 female students to pursue engineering majors and careers. The Femineer program was recognized by the White House for increasing opportunities for Hispanic K-12 students across the country. The program reaches more than 2,000 middle-school and high-school students annually in 124 schools across six states.
Dr. Jawa is a recipient of the California State University System’s highest honor, the Wang Family Excellence Outstanding Faculty Award. Other awards he has earned include California State Polytechnic University’s Provost’s Award, the Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the ASEE Pacific Southwest Award. His TEDx talk, “Becoming a Better Teacher,” has been ranked among the top five talks featuring inspiring educators.
In his role as Associate Dean, Dr. Jawa assisted the Dean in all aspects of operations of the college, which comprises 188 faculty members, 30 staff members, and more than 4,700 students, spread across five academic departments and six undergraduate programs. Dr. Jawa holds the primary responsibilities for faculty development, including orientation, pedagogical training, scholarly activity, external funding, industry partnership, accreditation, and community engagement. He is a hands-on, engaging educator who focuses on building partnerships with the engineering industry and the local engineering community in and beyond the university. In recognition of his work with the community, he has received the Outstanding Community Service Award from both the Pomona Unified School District and the Center for Community Service Learning at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
In addition, Dr. Jawa is a long-standing pioneer of online education. As an entrepreneur, he founded an education company (in 1999) offering math lessons to K-12 students. He also collaborated with Microsoft to develop online education programs, long before online education became mainstream. His visionary approach to teaching, the use of technology in education, and the development of interactive online content have led to numerous successful initiatives that have made innumerable impacts on thousands of students. He has developed hundreds of interactive, engrossing learning modules, online tutorials, and course redesign projects focusing on bottleneck courses, changing their strategy from mere feeders of information to students to fosterers of a holistic, interactive learning experience for students.
Dr. Jawa has published more than fifty papers on a variety of engineering topics, including biomimicry, design, and pedagogy. He has also secured more than $10 million as PI or Co-PI, including funding from public agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Commerce, and private foundations such as Motorola and Time Warner. He has developed a public voice in education as a former columnist for The Huffington Post, writing on topics pertinent to K-12 and higher education, including a defense of STEM education and an explanation of how he found his calling as an engineer through the equivalent of an arranged marriage. His most recent contribution, “Why DEI Initiatives Are Likely to Fail,” was published in Inside Higher Education.
Dr. Jawa received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the People’s Friendship University of Russia, Moscow. He is a father of three daughters and husband to Rita Jawaharlal, who holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and serves as the director of Kumon Claremont. A marathon runner and scuba diver, Dr. Jawa has completed 25 marathons, has run across the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R), and has run several ultramarathons, including two 100-mile races.