College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

College appoints Akinc to leadership role for international programs

Mufit Akinc, professor of materials science and engineering, has been named as the College of Engineering’s professor-in-charge of international engagement.

“Professor Akinc’s leadership role will be directed at educating students about the global nature of the engineering business enterprise,” said Jonathan Wickert, dean of the college. “The college will benefit greatly from his extensive experience and his dedication to student success.”
The appointment reflects the college’s move toward a more collaborative administrative structure that focuses on the needs of academic departments. While some college-level staff will continue to provide international programs support, each of the college’s eight departments will develop its own approach to student study and work abroad, as well as research collaborations with overseas institutions, under the guidance of Akinc. A similar professor-in-charge model is already in place for diversity affairs.

Akinc describes his new role as being “somewhere between consultant, mentor, promoter, and advocate. I will help develop new programs and new relationships, and facilitate interaction between faculty, staff, and students in all the academic departments.”

International programs will be part of a cross-functional approach, said Akinc, which will provide improved outreach and transparency to students. “Academics, diversity, recruitment, retention, international programs—all of them are really one piece in taking high school students and making them productive professionals and beyond,” he said.

Although the importance of international experience is recognized at the university level—as Akinc points out, there is a university requirement for students to have an “international perspective”—engineering in particular has been influenced by increasing globalization. He cited the example of a single component produced by Boeing that involves 17 facilities across the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

In addition, Akinc said, U.S. companies are increasingly staffed by engineers from India, China, and elsewhere. Success on the job requires positive interactions across cultures. The implications are clear, even for students who intend to spend their careers in this country.

“There is no way out of it, in my view,” Akinc said. “We cannot afford to produce engineers who do not have an international perspective.”

The Fulbright scholar, who is originally from Turkey, has extensive international experience of his own. He interviewed researchers throughout Europe for a year on behalf of the Office of Naval Research in London, spent four months on collaborative research in Istanbul, worked in Singapore for two extended periods, and still serves on the international advisory board of the National Institute of Materials in Japan. In 2009, he was recognized with Iowa State University’s International Service Award.

Akinc earned his PhD in ceramic engineering from Iowa State in 1977 after completing a BS and MS in chemistry at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.

“I came to Iowa State in 1974 as a graduate student and since then I’ve been in Ames for all but four years,” he said. “I have a huge passion for what happens at Iowa State and especially in the College of Engineering.”

Jonathan Wickert, College of Engineering, (515) 294-9988
Mufit Akinc, College of Engineering (515) 294-0738
Eric Dieterle, Engineering Communications, (515) 294-4881