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Steve O’Brien

Steve O’Brien

Professor and Interim Dean of Engineering

Phone: (609) 771-2538
Office Location: AR 165

Dr. Steve O’Brien is Professor in the Department of Integrative STEM (i-STEM) Education and the former director of the Center for Excellence in STEM Education.  Dr. O’Brien received B.S. degrees in Mathematics and Physics from Western Washington University and a Masters and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. His career in industry included positions at AT&T Bell Laboratories, SDL, Inc., Lucent Technologies and T-Networks, a company he co-founded in 2000. His work in industry was primarily in the area of optoelectronic devices, specializing in high power and high speed semiconductor lasers. His scholarly work includes over 40 publications and 15 patents.

In 2005 Dr. O’Brien changed his career focus on STEM education, resulting in his current faculty position at TCNJ. He coordinates the electrical engineering design strand in the Department. In his courses Dr. O’Brien tries to bring real-world technical, business and education experiences into the classroom with the intention of making STEM (and non-STEM) “real” to the future teachers. His scholarship work at TCNJ has focused on integrative-STEM, curriculum definition and interdisciplinary work, including papers and/or presentations with Journal of Technology Education, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), National Academy of Engineering / National Research Council (NAE/NRC), New Jersey Technology and Engineering Educators Association (NJTEEA) and Association for General & Liberal Studies (AGLS). Dr. O’Brien has also co-authored a textbook “Engineering Design: An Introduction (2nd edition).” One of his research focus areas is on the efficacy of TCNJ’s unique elementary education i-STEM program. This elementary education program is a comprehensive i-STEM teacher preparation program, started in 1998 at TCNJ, making it likely the oldest integrative-STEM teacher preparation program in the USA. This program has grown to be one of the largest elementary education programs at TCNJ.

Courses taught include: ETE281 Analog Electronics, ETE381 Digital Electronics, ETE385 Controls & Robotics, ETE131 Engineering Math, ETE395 Sr. Design Proposal, ETE495 Sr. Design, ETE271 Structures & Mechanisms, ENG212 Circuits Analysis and ENG214 Circuits Laboratory, ETE365 Prototyping, STEM510 Foundations of i-STEM, STEM520 i-STEM PEdagogy, STEM530 i-STEM Curriculum, STEM631 Engineering Math for Teachers and STEM660 Systems and Critical Thinking



  • Engineering Design: An Introduction, 2nd Edition, Drs. John Karsnitz, Steve O’Brien and John Hutchinson. Delmar Cengage Learning. Albany, NY. (2013)

Selected Articles / Conference papers:

  • Characterization of a Unique Undergraduate Multidisciplinary STEM K-5 Teacher Preparation Program, S. O’Brien, Journal of Technology Education, 21 (2), 35-51 (2010).
  • A unique multidisciplinary STEM K-5 teacher preparation program, S. O’Brien, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, June (2010).
  • Math Anxiety and Math Teaching Beliefs of a K-5 integrated-STEM Major Compared to other Teacher Preparation Majors, S. O’Brien, S. Vandersandt and E. Johnson, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, June (2011).
  • Development of a Teacher Education Curriculum Based on Engineering Principles and Concepts, D. Sullivan, S. O’Brien and J. Karsnitz, American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, June (2007).
  • The M/S/T Education Major at TCNJ, J. Karsnitz, S. O’Brien and S. Sherman, National Academy of Engineering / National Research Council, Committee on K-12 Engineering Education Workshop, Washington, DC, (October-2007).
  • Math/Science/Technology (M/S/T) K-5 Teacher Preparation Program at TCNJ, S. O’Brien and J. Karsnitz, National Academy of Engineering / National Research Council, Committee on Integrated STEM Education Workshop, Washington, DC, (Jan-2012).
  • Impact of Instructor Teaching Style and Content Courses on Mathematics Anxiety of Pre-service Teachers, S. Van der Sandt, S. O’Brien, accepted for publication in Journal of Technology Education (2017).