Former Student-Athlete and ME Professor Cola Named Faculty Athletics Representative

Baratunde Cola HeadshotPresident Ángel Cabrera has named Baratunde Cola, professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering, as the next faculty athletics representative (FAR) to the Georgia Tech Athletic Association.

The FAR serves as the liaison between the Institute and the Athletic Association on issues regarding rules compliance activities, new developments at the NCAA, and activities related to Atlantic Coast Conference membership. This is a part-time administrative position appointed for a term of three years. Cola will replace Charles Isbell, dean of the College of Computing and John P. Imlay Jr. Chair.

“Over the past decade at Georgia Tech, Bara Cola has worked to encourage students to take advantage of growth opportunities in leadership and in developing entrepreneurial confidence,” said Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera.  “His background as a student-athlete mixed with his accomplishments in teaching, research and service uniquely position him to serve as Georgia Tech’s Faculty Athletics Representative.”

Cola has been a faculty member at Georgia Tech since 2009. His work in advanced materials for energy and electronics packaging has brought numerous accolades, including the National Science Foundation’s Alan T. Waterman Award in 2017. After spending six years at Vanderbilt University as a student and a fullback on the football team, he conducted research on thermal applications of carbon nanotubes at Purdue University. He interned as a test research and development engineer at Intel Corporation and was a visiting scholar at the University of Texas at Dallas before joining Georgia Tech.  Cola holds a Ph.D. from Purdue, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Vanderbilt University.

“I thought that this was a great opportunity for me to build relationships, serve, and lead in areas of need,” he said. “I want to help student-athletes see who they are fully and leverage the unique opportunities of Georgia Tech to become their best self.”

Cola in especially interested in enhancing student-athletes’ entrepreneurial confidence by encouraging their participation in programs like CREATE-X.

“Georgia Tech has a strong tradition in athletics and academics, and our goal should always be to set a strong example to the NCAA on what a student-athlete should be and how to treat them well in our care,” he said. “Our shared responsibility is to develop these exceptional young people into the best citizens they can be.”

Cola’s teaching and research focus on the commercialization of nanotechnology and advanced materials. To date, he has produced — with his students — two operating companies from his lab. He is a co-founder of the Academic Research and Leadership Network, which assists underrepresented engineering Ph.D.’s in pursuing careers in academia. He is also one of the faculty leaders of Georgia Tech’s new CREATE-X Capstone design course, which has helped several undergraduates start their own companies after graduation.

His three-year term as FAR begins July 1.