ssmith's picture
Sonya T.


L.K. Downing Room 2020

Faculty Details


Ph.D. University of Virginia, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 1995
Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)


High-speed Aerodynamics; Computational Fluid Dynamics /Heat Transfer'; Biomechanics

Subjects Taught: 

Aerodynamics; Computational Fluid Mechanics; Fluid Mechanics; Heat Transfer;Thermodynamics


High-speed Aerodynamics; Computational Fluid Dynamics /Heat Transfer; Biomechanics

Detailed Information

About Me: 

Dr. Sonya T. Smith joined the Howard University faculty in 1995 and is the first tenured female faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Smith obtained her Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from The University of Virginia (UVA) in 1995 and was also the first African-American woman to do so. In 2010, she became the first woman promoted to the highest academic rank of Professor (full) in this department.

Dr Smith has served as Principal Investigator for over $10 million in externally funded research grants from government and industry. She has established an interdisciplinary theoretical and computational research laboratory entitled the Applied Fluids-Thermal Research Laboratory (@FTERLab). Dr. Smith has been elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). She has also served as an ORISE Fellow at the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Her memberships in other professional societies include the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO), the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

Dr. Smith's individual grants/contracts are numerous, however two interdisciplinary efforts of note are the NSF Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) and the NSF Howard University ADVANCE-IT (HU ADVANCE-IT) awards. Dr. Smith leads the Howard team which is a partner on a new, $18.5 million NSF ERC for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS). POETS’s ambitious, innovative approach to improving the power density of next generation electro-thermal systems involves integrating traditionally separate research efforts in mechanical, electrical, and materials engineering across different technical domains. POETS is a multi-institutional research effort lead by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in partnership with Howard University, Stanford University and the University of Arkansas .

Dr. Smith is Principal Investigator for the Howard University ADVANCE-IT (HU ADVANCE-IT) award from NSF. HU ADVANCE-IT is committed to solving the institutional and national problem of Advancement and Leadership of Women in STEM. This award, funded by the National Science Foundation will enable Howard University to develop an innovative and strategic model for institutional transformation that increases the number of female leaders in the STEM disciplines.

Dr. Smith’s personal goal is to be a mentor and resource to all students and young faculty/professionals, but especially to those underrepresented in STEM.


Meet Bison STEM Scholar Ameen Muhammad

Mon, November 18, 2019

A Baltimore native, Mechanical Engineering Junior Ameen Muhammad developed an interest in mechanical engineering when he was in middle school. At the time, he noticed that the engineers he met during school field trips did not look like him. Muhammad became extremely curious as to why he did not meet any engineers of color. This curiosity later developed into a passion for helping to diversify the field of engineering. Read More >>

Professor Naren Vira Named ASME Fellow

Thu, February 7, 2019

Mechanical Engineering Professor Naren Vira has been elected Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), after nomination by Mechanical Engineering Department Chair Nadir Yilmaz. Read More >>


No Events