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Z. Maria Oden

Maria OdenProfessor in the Practice of Engineering Education
Director, Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School (1994-1997)
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Tulane University (1994)
M.S., Biomedical Engineering,Tulane University (1991)
B.S.E., Biomedical Engineering, Tulane University (1989)

Bio Sketch

Maria Oden has more than 15 years of combined academic, research, clinical experience in biomedical engineering with an emphasis in orthopaedic bioemechanics and computational modeling. This work is also supported by three years of experience in computational modeling working with engineering consultants at Sage-Crisp Engineering in Houston, TX.

Since joining the Department of Bioengineering as a lecturer and laboratory coordinator in 2004, Oden has collaborated with Rice faculty members to develop capstone engineering design programs for undergraduate students in both the bioengineering and  Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB) programs. In 2012, the BTB program was chosen as a model program by Science magazine and awarded the Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction; and in 2013, the hands-on engineering education program was awarded the Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation for bringing life-saving health solutions to the developing world.

As director of Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, an appointment received in 2008, Oden orchestrates engineering education initiatives in the school of engineering that provide students from multiple departments in the George R. Brown School of Engineering, Wiess School of Natural Sciences, and the School of Humanities with unique hands-on design experience and opportunities to test and carry ideas to their intended point of application. She has also developed several core undergraduate laboratory courses where she emphasizes open-ended problem solving as part of the laboratory exercises.

While at Rice, Oden has inspired thousands of students to work in design teams of four to five individuals to log countless hours to complete a design challenge project. Fifteen of these teams have won regional and national awards at design competitions, several devices are currently being tested for application in the U.S. and abroad, and over 45 students have left Rice with a patent application on their resume.

Since 2006, Oden has actively collaborated with Rice faculty to oversee the Rice/Texas Medical Center (TMC) Design Technology Forum - a quarterly series in which more than 20 surgeons from the TMC work with researchers/students at Rice to form technologic solutions to medical problems. She also leads regional design challenge opportunities for the annual Design Showcase competition at the Houston Society for Engineering in Medicine and Biology’s (HSEMB) Houston Conference on Biomedical Engineering Research.

In addition to her professional and teaching responsibilities at Rice, Oden collaborates with colleagues around the nation to foster growth in undergraduate design education. Several of these efforts have been conducted through the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance and the Biomedical Engineering - Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Alliance (BME-IDEA.)

Awards Oden has received for her engineering education initiatives include: the 2012 Fred Merryfield Design Award by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the 2012 George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching from Rice University. She was also selected to participate in the 2012 National Academy of Engineering's (NAE) Frontiers of Engineering Education (FOEE) Symposium.