Bio


Barbara A. Karanian, Ph.D. Lecturer, previously visiting Professor----Barbara's research focuses on four areas: 1) grounding a blend of theories from social-cognitive psychology, engineering design and art to show how cognition affects design decisions; 2) changing the way people understand the emotion behind their work with the intent to do something new; 3) shifting norms of leaders involved in entrepreneurial minded action; 4) developing teaching methods with a storytelling focus in engineering education.

Barbara teaches and studies how a person’s behavior at work is framed around a blend of applied theoretical perspectives from social psychology and cognitive psychology; engineering design thinking and art. Her storytelling methods provides a form for students to explore and discover the practices of inquiry from the class and apply them to how individuals behave within organizations, and the ways organizations face challenges. Active storytelling and self-reflective observation helps student and industry leaders to iterate and progress from the early idea phases of projects to reality. Founder of the Design Entrepreneuring Studio, she is the author of, "Working Connection: The Relational Art of Leadership;" "Entrepreneurial Leadership: A Balancing Act in Engineering and Science;" and "Designing for Social Participation in the Virtual Universe." In ME 378, Tell/Make/Engage - action stories for entrepreneuring class, 'Story' is defined two ways: 1) a story is a form or idea for creating successful engagement strategies and alignment; and 2) storytelling as rapid prototyping - proven methods for iterative development across the developmental stages of a research project, a dissertation, career path change, or a start-up company. With her students, she co-authored, "The Power of First Moments in Entrepreneurial Storytelling." Findings show that the characteristic of vulnerability amplifies engagement. In another class, ME 236 - Tales to Design Cars By- the opportunity to investigate a person’s relationship with cars through the application of research, design thinking, and with a generative storytelling focus-students find the inspiration for designing a new automotive experience.

Barbara makes productive partnerships with industry and creates collaborative teams with members from the areas of engineering, design, psychology, business, communication, and medicine. Her recent work examines: ways to generate creative work environments; motivators for modes of transportation; leader problem-solving for group effectiveness by iterating on an intelligent wall; and perceived differences in on-line and off-line lives. She also bridges the intersection of Silicon Valley and Hollywood in an initiative for building a predictive model of success. Barbara received her B.A. in the double major of Experimental Psychology and Fine Arts from the College of the Holy Cross, her M.A. in Art Therapy from Lesley University, and her Ph.D. in Educational Studies in Organizational Behavior from Lesley University. She was a Teaching Fellow 1990-1991 at Harvard University's GSE; and in 2013 awarded best Teaching Strategies paper by ASEE's Entrepreneurship & Innovation division.

Academic Appointments


  • Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering

Honors & Awards


  • 1st Place Research Paper: "Provoked Emotion in Stories of Motivation Reveal...of Innovation", Entrepreneurship and Innovation Division for The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) (June, 2019)
  • Best Teaching Strategies Paper Award for- "Open Process for Entrepreneuring Team Collaboration...", The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), Entrepreneurship and Innovation Division (June, 2012)

All Publications


  • O-CDIO: Emphasizing Design Thinking in CDIO Engineering Cycle INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION Taajamaa, V., Eskandari, M., Karanian, B., Airola, A., Pahikkala, T., Salakoski, T. 2016; 32 (3): 1530-1539