Professor Spotlight: Christine Delahanty, STEM Dept.
Since 2009, Delahanty has been inspiring students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Department to reach for high goals
You might think that Christine Delahanty was a chemist, the way she can match students who have just the right chemistry to make a winning team. The associate professor of engineering and physics has constructed teams who went to the finals of the National Science Foundation’s Community College Innovation Challenge two years in a row, competing at the national level and presenting their proposals on Capitol Hill.
Still, the high-energy educator won’t take credit for her students’ success. “The students were the ones to make this all happen,” said Delahanty, who oversees the engineering program at Bucks.” I was very impressed with their intense dedication to this true engineering effort. They just took off with it.”
From Satellite Systems to Higher Education
Since 2009, Delahanty has been inspiring students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Department to reach for such high goals. In fact, she developed the engineering technology program of study after securing a $152,000 National Science Foundation grant in 2011. This included curriculum enhancements to engineering, equipment and laboratory upgrades, facilities assessment, and marketing efforts. She also organized an Industry Advisory Board to get real-world guidance for the curriculum.
Such industry partnerships are second-nature to Delahanty, who began her career as an engineer before becoming an educator. She earned her bachelor of science in physics from Villanova University and her master of science in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. For nine years, she worked on communication satellite systems for General Electric’s Aerospace Division, and was an independent engineering consultant for several years after that.
Among other initiatives Delahanty started at Bucks is the Society of Bucks Engineers, a club that allows students to plan engineering projects outside of the classroom, including community outreach involving groups such as STEMGirlz, and the Cub Scouts. They also planned a “Tiny Pumpkin Chuckin’ Competition” to benefit hurricane victims.
Back-to-Back NSF Finalists
It was from this club that Delahanty drew members of the first team that made it to the NSF finals in 2016 for the Wind Catcher Max, a new design for a wind turbine that caught the attention of PECO. The energy company was so impressed, it granted the college $10,000 to conduct a feasibility study of the project.
In 2017, another team went to the NSF finals for Simply Secure, a low-cost, portable device that small businesses and consumers can use to connect securely to any wireless network, regardless of whether that network has been compromised. Students from both teams have since gone on to continue their studies at prestigious universities such as Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, U.C. Berkley, Purdue, and Drexel.
“I love working with my wonderful students at Bucks. I learn just as much from them as they do from me,” said Delahanty. “What’s more, my colleagues at Bucks are excellent. We share a common interest in the success of the students, and often discuss strategies regarding students we have in common, to make the experience for them as valuable as possible. Bucks is ready for the future, and I am very proud to be a part of that.”
Other programs Delahanty is proud of include securing a $20,000 Dow Chemical grant to develop quadrator technology, which allowed the Bucks County Technical High School quadrotor club to purchase equipment, seek consulting from Bucks students and participate in community college competition. She also secured $10,000 in funds from Dow Chemical to conduct 3D printing workshops and demonstrations in the Bristol area school districts to encourage students to enter STEM careers.
In addition to engineering courses, Delahanty teaches physics and math courses. She’s just one more example of the quality professors at Bucks.