Christina DiMarino - graduate student | ECE | Virginia Tech

Christina DiMarino ECE graduate student


Portrait photograph of Christina DiMarino
Christina DiMarino

Where were you born?

White Plains, NY

What are your hobbies?

Definitely traveling! I also enjoy running, hiking, and cooking.

What's one interesting fact about you?

I thought that electrical engineering (EE) was the last field that I wanted to be in. I was intimidated by the idea of it and did not think it was very interesting. After just one EE class, which was a requirement for my undergraduate degree, I quickly realized I was wrong; EE has many fascinating areas with a diverse range of applications and is within anyoneâ??s reach if they have the motivation.

What are you researching? How might it impact society?

I am researching how to create a high-density package for 10,000-volt silicon carbide transistors. These unique devices can switch higher voltages faster and with higher efficiency than todayâ??s leading technologies. If we can find a way to package and drive these devices in a way that will not limit their phenomenal characteristics, then they can be used to reduce the size, weight, and cost, as well as increase the efficiency, of medium-voltage power systems. This will aid in the realization of more electric ships and a smart power grid, among other applications.

What influenced you to choose ECE at Virginia Tech?

The Center for Power Electronic Systems (CPES). After touring the lab, which takes up nearly the entire first floor of Whittemore Hall, and learning about the Center, I knew this would be a great experience filled with opportunities that I could not get anywhere else in the world. The professors in CPES are world-renowned and are conducting cutting-edge research in power electronics in applications ranging from consumer electronics (cell-phones, laptops, etc.) to electric transportation (electric vehicles, more electric aircrafts, more electric ships, etc.) to renewable energy integration and power electronics for the utility grid. I also liked the collaboration among the various areas within ECE, as well as with other departments. For instance, on my Ph.D. committee, I have professors from Power Systems, Materials Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. I think this collaboration results in well-rounded research and learning.

How do you like living in Blacksburg and the surrounding area?

Blacksburg was an adjustment for me, as I am used to living just outside of New York City. However, I have come to enjoy the many perks that this small town has to offer. In particular, the strong relationship between the community and the University is very nice. There are also a lot of beautiful hiking trails and scenic drives nearby. It is a lovely and easy-going area with lots of school spirit that I have been proud to call my home for the past five years.

What is your ideal job? Why?

While I do not know specifically what my ideal job would be, I have an idea of what it would entail: I would like to be involved with cutting-edge research in the exciting and rapidly growing field of power electronics. I believe that further developments in this area will greatly improve our quality of life and result in a more sustainable future. Some career options include: remaining in academia, working in the research and development group of a company, or perhaps working for a government research laboratory.

Do you have any comments about the value or challenges of diverse participation in a classroom, research group, or community setting?

I believe that diversity is a valuable attribute, especially when it comes to research. When people with different education, cultures, and backgrounds come together to solve a problem, they are able to look at the issue from various perspectives and work together to come up with the optimal solution. I have personally enjoyed working with a diverse group of students during my time at Virginia Tech. We have learned a great deal from each other, and this learning has enriched both our personal and professional lives.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to think bigger and have more confidence in myself. In high school, when it was time to apply to colleges, I was not reaching too far out of my comfort zone and the thought of graduate school, let alone a Ph.D., never even crossed my mind. I think if I had been more open-minded and had more confidence in my capabilities early on, then I could have had an easier time transitioning into a Ph.D. program in EE. Luckily, I chose a great undergraduate institution (James Madison University), where the teachers truly cared about our future and motivated us to push ourselves beyond what we thought we could achieve. It was through their encouragement and genuine interest that I decided to apply to the direct Ph.D. program in ECE at Virginia Tech. I am forever grateful to those JMU professors for all of their help and support.