Joe Cecil

Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK | 2020

Joe Cecil Portrait Photo

I feel humbled and honored to receive this award on behalf of my students, their parents, and my mentors. It is a testament to my K–12 and university collaborators, who have inspired and worked with me in helping minority, autistic, and physically disabled students soar high and realize their dreams of becoming engineers and scientists. The support from NSF, NASA, and others underscores our nation’s commitment to foster an inclusive culture, encouraging all students to pursue careers in STEM.

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. Awardees may choose to provide their latest biographical information on their profile page.

J. Cecil is a Professor of Computer Science at Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater since 2016; he was in industrial engineering from 2009 to 2016. Cecil’s mentoring, which began at New Mexico State University in 2001, focuses on both K–12 and university students. To date, nearly 800 students grades 1–12 have participated in the Soaring Eagle program. Through this program, he pioneered a new way to provide exciting introductions to STEM by designing Virtual Reality (VR) based Learning Environments (VLEs). This program encourages minority students, women, autistic students, those with physical disabilities, and others towards STEM careers. Cecil is exploring the design of VLEs to help autistic students learn STEM. VLEs (with haptic and 3D immersive interfaces) have also been created for university students to learn engineering concepts (ranging from robotics to genetic algorithms). Through the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs, he has encouraged underrepresented students to pursue graduate degrees in STEM. His university mentees have explored the design of VR simulators for surgery, NASA's Moon Mission, and other contexts, which has resulted in more than 80 peer reviewed conference and journal papers. Cecil has a Bachelor of Engineering in mechanical engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy - Anna University (India), an M.S. in industrial engineering from State University of New York, and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University. He is the recipient of OSU’s Outstanding Faculty Award, the Institute of Industrial Engineers’ Technical Innovation Award, and the OK-LSAMP Outstanding Mentor award.