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Sara Arena

Photo of Sara Arena in a classroom, surrounded by students, all masked due to COVID-19

Sara Arena started teaching at Virginia Tech when she was a post-doctoral researcher (2012-2013) in Dynamics.  She then became an Assistant Professor at High Point University in the Department of Exercise Science (2013-2017), before returning to Virginia Tech as a Collegiate Assistant Professor in BEAM (2017-2020).  She was promoted to Collegiate Associate Professor in the Summer of 2020, and served as the Interim Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Program Chair during Spring 2021.  She officially became the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Program Chair in Summer 2021.

Courses taught:

BMES 2104 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering: (BME majors and minors)

ESM 2304 Dynamics: Required course for the BME majors, typically in their second year.  It is also a service course for the College of Engineering, so many other engineering majors are often in Dynamics. 

ESM 4204 Musculoskeletal Biomechanics: (BME majors and minors) This is a technical course, focusing on the biomechanics of human movement and human subject testing

ESM 4224 Biodynamics and Control: (BME majors and minors) This is a technical course, focusing on mathematical modeling of human movement.

Teaching philosophy: 

Sara Arena's teaching philosophy centers on active learning. She believes in engaging students as active participants in learning. This includes cooperative learning (using groups to encourage students to work collectively towards a goal), hands-on minds-on learning (using “hands on” experience to engage the learner towards real-world applications for integration of information), and problem-based learning (using open-ended real-world problems to promote student-directed learning and development of critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and teamwork skills).  

Favorite thing about teaching:

The "ah-ha" lightbulb moment is one of her favorites! She loves seeing a student put the pieces together and understanding a concept; she really enjoys seeing students engage in the material, and develop a passion for a topic that they may not have thought about before; and she loves hearing from students on how they are doing after they have graduated!