Turning fungus into animal feed

People around the world, especially Americans in the Midwest, should be familiar with the term ethanol. Record volumes of this biofuel are being produced in the United States, to the sum of 13.9 billion gallons in 2011. As the country continues to diversify its energy portfolio, ethanol bio refineries will play a vital role in [Continue Reading…]

Sharing is caring

This post is the first in a series of guest blog posts that will appear in the Dean’s Blog over the next year. The author is Travis Ballstadt, digital media coordinator for the Iowa State University College of Engineering They say you should never assume, but I’m going to make an assumption. I’m going to [Continue Reading…]

Building on success

As I began preparing for when I would take the College of Engineering’s reins from Jonathan Wickert, who is now the senior vice president and provost at Iowa State, I knew the college was in great shape. Each day on the job of interim dean, I realize just how true this is. Our research funding [Continue Reading…]

Advanced manufacturing important for Iowa

Iowa State recently hosted Vice President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who came to campus March 1 to highlight the importance of innovation and advanced manufacturing to the American economy. Vice President Biden’s visit to Howe Hall also included a tour of aerospace engineering’s Make to Innovate lab, where Iowa State President Steven [Continue Reading…]

Making the most of the freshman year

The freshman year at any university, and particularly in a rigorous engineering program, can be challenging – a new place, new social connections, and new academic expectations. One of the trends we’ve seen nationwide since the 1990s is a renewed emphasis of offering more engineering courses up-front in the curriculum, including during the freshman year. [Continue Reading…]

Nobel Laureates, today and yesterday

Early in the morning on October 5, we learned that Dan Shechtman received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the discovery of quasicrystals.” Professor Shechtman is a faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, a research scientist in the Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory on our campus, and a professor at the [Continue Reading…]

National workforce needs in engineering

Wie, Bong webLast year at this time, I blogged about how high-tech industries are experiencing significant growth, particularly in sectors at the boundaries of traditional engineering disciplines and fields such as biology, medicine, and product design. Coupled with that surge of career opportunities is an approaching demographic crunch in the engineering workforce as more baby boomers retire. [Continue Reading…]

A promising year

A university campus is a great place to be in the fall, and that certainly is the case at Iowa State. Ames has been bustling with activity the past two weeks with the presidential candidate debate, the Straw Poll, and the arrival of students at the start of the academic year. Summer proved to be [Continue Reading…]

There’s an App for us

Hu, HuiThe engineering college has a very broad constituency – current and prospective students and their families, employers in business and industry, Iowans, government entities, other educational institutions, and alumni – to mention just a few. While our daily energy is focused on educating students and engineering innovation, we know that you are interested in staying [Continue Reading…]

Our vision, our plan

I was recently at a national meeting of engineering deans, and in conversations with my colleagues, it’s clear that the Great Recession and the pullback in support from state legislatures have placed created significant pressures for engineering education in the United States. At the same time, our corporate partners have challenged us in two ways: [Continue Reading…]

Time to listen

For all the incredible work that engineers perform each day to make our lives better, it seems that we often don’t hear much about them unless we’re faced head-on with a crisis. We hear of “scientific discoveries” and “engineering disasters.”  The general public’s knowledge of what engineers do is limited. We just know that our [Continue Reading…]

Iowa State’s engineering brand

Especially in the digital age of marketing, it has become increasingly true that brand is determined by audience perception. Sure, you can try to influence that perception, but what people think of you—and what they tell others—carries the most weight. In the College of Engineering, we like what people are saying about us. A few [Continue Reading…]

More than lab work

Two themes that I’ve emphasized as dean are collaboration and sustainability. While it’s not difficult to imagine that those two concepts are closely related, to see them resonate well in a single project is truly gratifying. The project, in this case, is a $2 million renovation of research labs in the 1964 wing of Sweeney [Continue Reading…]

Back from break

Wind chill aside, it’s always invigorating to see the rise in energy levels on campus when classes begin after winter break. The new semester reminds me of what a complex enterprise the college is, with thousands of students, and hundreds of faculty and staff. When I think of the intense coursework, innovative research, and valuable [Continue Reading…]

Always an engineer

At the start of the fall semester, I was asked to speak to a large freshman class of undeclared students along with my colleagues—the deans of the other colleges on campus. Our charge was to outline our personal career paths, and to convey a bit of what we were thinking as 18-year-old new arrivals on [Continue Reading…]

Sustainable expectations

While on travel in California, I drove past a car dealership with signage advertising a solar powered station for recharging the batteries of electric cars. Parked in the dealer’s lot was a trailer unit that evidently could be moved from location to location and contained the recharging equipment. The trailer held a large flat panel [Continue Reading…]

The engineering experience

Recently, a colleague and I were speaking about the “Iowa State experience” and why practical knowledge and leadership opportunities are such an important part of our institutional identity. What he said about Iowa State’s tradition of student engagement reflects what I see every day: that with more than 800 student clubs and organizations, a strong [Continue Reading…]

More than numbers

When asked about the difference between scientists and engineers, Albert Einstein is said to have remarked, “Scientists investigate that which already is. Engineers create that which has never existed.” I like to make that point to young people when I speak of the engineering profession and its rewards. Engineers put science to work and literally [Continue Reading…]

Face-to-face with tech job growth

When the US Department of Labor predicts that technology careers—including engineering—are among the fastest growing, the news doesn’t seem surprising. Even in today’s economy, engineering jobs figure prominently in the national top-ten lists of career choices. And the College of Engineering’s success rate in placing graduates has remained excellent. Two items caught my eye in [Continue Reading…]