By Anita Todd
The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.
At 5 years old, Christina Drake conducted her first scientific experiment and made two conclusions.
First, the experiment allowed her to quickly deduct that Barbie dolls don’t tan in microwave ovens; second, the desire to discover was planted.
Drake was recently selected as an assistant professor of mechanical, industrial and electrical engineering in the College of Engineering at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland.
She said in addition to being interested in science at a young age, television helped create an interest in engineering.
“I was a really big ‘Star Trek’ fan and was always interested in the engineering character in ‘The Next Generation,'” she said.
“I knew that when things went really, really bad he’d climb down into the engineering compartment and fix things.”
But even though she had fostered those interests throughout her childhood and high school, she had planned on majoring in music in college.
“I changed my mind at the last minute and majored in materials science and engineering,” she said. “If my future self would have told me when I was 17 that I’d be where I am today, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
After graduating from the University of Florida, she got married and began looking for jobs.
“I didn’t really like any of the jobs that I was interviewing for,” she said. She and her husband moved to Orlando and after one try at graduate school, she decided to try one more time.
More than successful this time, she finished her master’s degree and doctorate in two and a half years at the University of Central Florida.
“Dr. Drake received her Ph.D. under my guidance. She is a bright, intelligent, talented individual who makes things happen,” said Sudipta Seal, the University of Central Florida’s director of the Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center. “She developed an innovative technique to evaluate nanosensors in a cost-effective way. Her work is well cited in the literature.”