Sarah Rajala


Professor Emeritus [E CPE]

James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering


4100 Marston
533 Morrill Rd.
Ames, IA 500112103


Sarah Rajala (Rye-ah-lah) became the 12th dean of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University on April 1, 2013. She leads the largest college on campus and is responsible for more than 9,600 students, 500 faculty and staff, 12 academic majors, multiple research centers and programs, and 11 buildings that comprise the engineering complex.

Rajala is an internationally known leader who has served on many academic and association boards. She is a past president of the American Society for Engineering Education and past chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council. In 2016 she was awarded national engineer of the year award by the American Association of Engineering Societies; and received the 2015 national Harriett B. Rigas Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Education Society honoring outstanding female faculty.

Rajala’s previous leadership positions were at Mississippi State University as dean of engineering from 2008-13, and chair of the electrical and computer engineering department prior to being named dean. She also served at North Carolina State University as associate dean for research and graduate programs and associate dean for academic affairs in the college of engineering. She had a distinguished career as a professor and center director prior to moving into administrative positions.

Rajala has consistently broken new ground for women in engineering and serves as a role model for young women. She is passionate about diversity of thought and culture, especially as it relates to the college environment.

Rajala earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Rice University. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ABET, American Society for Engineering Education and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.


B.S., Michigan Technological University

M.S., Rice University

Ph.D., Rice University