Nicholas P. Tillinghast Award
Dr. Kris Jaeger-Helton, ’84
Professor, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering
Capstone Design Program Director, Industrial Engineering
Founding Director, Galante Engineering Business Program
Dr. Beverly Kristenson Jaeger-Helton (‘Kris’) earned her undergraduate degree at Bridgewater, focusing on Cardiopulmonary Science/Exercise Physiology with a Minor in Healthcare Administration. She completed her fieldwork at Rhode Island Hospital in the Department of Orthopaedics and graduated summa cum laude from BSU. Kris went on to earn her Masters degree in Biomechanics with a focus on Neuroscience at Northeastern University (NU) in Boston in the Bouvé College of Human Development Professions. She then earned her PhD in Human-Machine Systems Engineering at Northeastern, minoring in Cognitive Psychology. Having spent some time in industry and consulting, Dr. Jaeger-Helton is currently a Full Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) at NU.
While earning her doctorate in Engineering, Kris applied her Biomechanics and Neuroscience background by joining the faculty in the Department of Physical Therapy teaching in Neuroanatomy, Clinical Kinesiology, and Biostatistics as well as teaching in the Cardiopulmonary Science program.
For her doctoral dissertation, Kris developed and constructed a computer-generated 3D training simulator for the Department of Defense, funded by a Fellowship through the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), the world's largest modeling, simulation and training event. Dr. Jaeger-Helton has worked in industry leading human factors engineering audits, consulting on facilities planning and work design, and providing expertise to facilitate workforce training and improve industrial conditions. She also has consulted in process optimization, interface analysis, and product design.
At Northeastern, Kris also served as Associate Director of the Virtual Environments Laboratory in MIE, where she conducted research and advised graduate students, with a focus on human factors engineering, driving simulation, and traffic engineering. She also worked as an intern at Reebok International as a Biomechanical Engineer, conducting both mechanical testing as well as human performance research.
In the College of Engineering at NU, Kris has taught Engineering Design, Engineering Problem Solving & Computation, Simulation Modeling & Analysis, Facilities Planning & Material Handling, and Human-Machine Systems, and is now the Director of Capstone Design in Industrial Engineering, overseeing up to 90 engineering seniors, a dozen faculty members and 20 year-long industry, research, and innovation projects. At Northeastern, Kris has also developed, advised and consulted for several Capstone Design projects across Industrial, Mechanical, and Civil Engineering. In this capacity, she also has functioned as the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering liaison with the Office of Human Subjects Protection in Research with Northeastern’s IRB/DRI.
During her 20 years at NU, Dr. Jaeger-Helton has been voted Professor of the Year by students 15 times, 3 for First-year Engineering, 11 times in Industrial Engineering and once in Mechanical Engineering as well as being featured in “The Students Speak” selections in the College of Engineering. In addition, she was awarded the All-College Engineering Teaching Award as well the Mentoring Award in the College of Engineering. She credits Bridgewater for laying the teaching groundwork beyond engineering practice, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the ExCEEd Teaching program at West Point Military Academy for building on this foundation, along with countless mentors and inspirational students.
While at NU, Dr. Jaeger-Helton became the founding Director of the Galante Engineering Business Program, a BS/MS program based on the three pillars of Academics, Professional Development, and Fellowship. She generated 11 new academic BS/MS program paths through that Directorship and the Galante program is going strong today. Recently, Dr. Jaeger-Helton founded and developed the Teaching Faculty Connection in the College of Engineering at Northeastern, seeing a need for mentorship and support.
Kris’ grandmother, Elinor Meyer McGee ’33 was a graduate of the Bridgewater Normal School and Kris is the now proud owner and keeper of her grandmother’s Bridgewater yearbook as well as her class ring inscribed “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister” which was a gift from her grandmother, along with an official Bridgewater Chair.
On multiple occasions, Kris been the Keynote Speaker at the Invention Convention hosted here at BSU. She has served as a Judge many times as well has Head Judge for this event that spotlights STEM innovation.
Kris Jaeger-Helton is a member of ASCE, ASME, HFES, IISE, SAE, and American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) where she served as Program Chair and Division Chair for the New Engineering Educators Division and is now a Director in the Design in Engineering Education Division. Kris has a particular focus on human performance engineering and compassionate design as well as seeking out best practices for engineering education and application of those skills. She has published much of her research through ASEE and her scholarly work with colleagues has won several Best Paper and Best Presentation Awards at ASEE, most notably Best Overall Conference Paper over 2,000+ accepted publications with the research paper “Successful Students: Smart or Tough?”. Kris also has co-authored a volume of work on studying and detecting Parkinson’s disease through engineering methods and interventions and is currently working with, publishing, and advising a team of engineers in the area of Artificial Intelligence in Biopharmaceutical process training and education.
Outside the university, Kris Jaeger-Helton is a Forensic Engineer and Expert Witness in Biomechanical Engineering, Safety, and Human Factors Engineering. She holds certifications in Motor Vehicle Collision Reconstruction and Forensic Analysis of Medical Records.
Kris lives in Foxborough, MA with her husband Thearon. They are proud of son Zach Helton and daughter Kaitlyn Helton who each live out of state. Thearon has his private pilot’s license and is working on rebuilding an airplane he owns with colleagues. Likewise, Kris is working on her pilot’s license. She is also professional tennis umpire, certified as an international Chair Umpire and Review Official with the International Tennis Federation. She has worked all 4 grand Slams (Wimbledon, Australian Open, French Open, and US Open), 3 Olympic Games and many other tennis events around the world as an official. In 2020 Kris was selected as a chair umpire for the Paralympics in Tokyo and as a Review Official for Wimbledon, both now planned for 2021. Kris is passionate about connections, lifelong learning, merging work with life interests and inspirations, and giving back in all of these areas.