Sonia Travaglini, Ph.D., is the learning and success specialist with the UC Berkeley Engineering Student Services team. Sonia specializes in the intersection of engineering and education, and enjoys advancing learning to help future engineers maximize their success. She completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley while working with a variety of Bay Area start-ups on novel natural materials, helping them develop collaborative research projects and achieve entrepreneurial success. Sonia has a background in product design, advanced manufacturing technologies, and sustainability, and completed the UC Berkeley Certificate in Engineering and Business for Sustainability. While pursuing her doctorate, she became passionate about education and achieved the UC Berkeley Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. In 2018, she was awarded the UC Berkeley Teaching Effectiveness Award for her work in teaching and science communication. When not lecturing and learning, Sonia enjoys supporting engineering outreach with local schools, and learning signed languages including British Sign Language and American Sign Language.
How did your career path lead you to your current role?
As a home-educated student, I enjoyed learning through experience and being actively engaged in learning — at the time I didn’t realize I was also learning about learning, but it definitely fueled my later interest in education. During my Ph.D., I connected with teaching and became fascinated with how learning works, especially in engineering. Since then I’ve focused on engineering education and love my work!
How do you contribute to Berkeley Engineering’s equity and inclusion mission?
Inspired by participating in the amazing EMPOWER program, I recently worked with the Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership to lead a training workshop on how to create inclusive classrooms, and hope to continue this work in the future.
Besides your work, what’s something that you’re passionate about?
During my engineering studies in England I enjoyed learning British Sign Language (BSL) for fun. Interestingly, each country has their own signed language, and when I discovered American had a different signed language, I studied American Sign Language (ASL) at Berkeley City College — these days I still enjoy learning ASL and BSL.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot is sitting under the trees by Founders Rock – I love looking down the hill and seeing the Engineering buildings where I studied for my doctorate in mechanical engineering, and musing on the founding principles in the 1800s of a public university to “contribute even more than gold to the glory and happiness of advancing generations” — it helps keep me inspired!