Deb Chachra, PhD

Matter, energy, networks, and people.

I’m a Professor of Engineering and the author of How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our World (US/UK).

I write, speak, collaborate, facilitate, and create widely at the intersection of technology and society, with an emphasis on systems, education, design, and materials.

This site is in transition, so please feel free to reach out with inquiries or if you’re looking for something specific (including a bio or a headshot).

Named a ‘Best Book of 2023’ by Publishers Weekly. Our infrastructural networks – water and sewage, electricity, communications, transportation, and more – shape our lives, often in ways we don’t even think about. This is a book about learning to see what they have in common, why they work the way they do, and how they can be better, for everyone. “Revelatory, superbly written, and pulsing with wisdom and humanity, How Infrastructure Works is a masterpiece.” — Ed Yong.
Since joining Olin College of Engineering as one of the earliest faculty, my focus has been on creating student-centered learning experiences to foster motivation and reflective practice. At Olin, I teach foundational, hands-on, design-focused courses that help young technologists think in new ways about the world, and I work with educators across domains to incorporate these ideas and approaches for their own students.
I write about the intersection of technology and culture, from the shapes of medieval pies to appreciating the sociotechnical systems that underpin modern society.
You can find me in the Fediverse, on LinkedIn, and as @debcha on Instagram. For collaborations, speaking engagements (here's a recent short talk), or other inquiries, please contact me directly.