October roundup

From opening to close, the month of October brought a rush of activity to the College of Engineering and across campus. Family Weekend (October 1–2) hinted of the flurry to come as the college’s tailgating tents overflowed with guests—and a big win over Texas Tech didn’t hurt, either. What followed was a series of events on and off campus that ran the gamut from STEM awareness, to diversity, to medallions and alumni awards.

Here’s a review of just some of October’s events in the college.

Moms Night Out for STEM

On Tuesday, October 18, in 21 locations across Iowa, more than 600 moms—and dads and kids—got together to focus on one thing: STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

“They had a night out to learn about how their kids, and maybe themselves, could get engaged, become more involved, and ask ‘why?’ a little more,” said Camille Schroeder, assistant director of undergraduate student recruitment, who helped organize the event.

The College of Engineering was one of the 21 hosts of Moms Night Out for STEM, which was coordinated by the Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership (IMSEP). The event was Iowa’s unique contribution to the first USA Science and Engineering Festival. The “night out” approach was brainstormed by IMSEP and the College of Engineering to inspire primary caretakers, particularly moms, to get hands-on with their children’s math and science education.

College diversity fair

The college’s 2nd Annual Diversity Fair was held October 21, featuring faculty workshops and a prominent keynote speaker. The focus was on faculty diversity, with the format including interactive sessions on faculty searches and Pathways to Advancement—the Role of Mentoring.

Scott Page, director of the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan, delivered the keynote presentation, “A Business Case for Diversity.” Page discussed how diversity improves performance and decision making. He is the author of “The Difference: How the Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies,” which addresses how we think in groups and discusses the benefit of collective wisdom.

Palmer medallion ceremony

Seven months after the Palmer Departmental Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering was publicly announced, and four months after David Jiles was named as the first recipient, the medallion ceremony was held. Speakers at the October 22 event included College of Engineering Dean Jonathan Wickert.

The chair was created through additional earnings from an endowed faculty position established by Iowa State alumni Barbara R. and James R. Palmer in 1986.

Jiles officially became chair of ECpE on October 1 after having accepted the appointment in June.

ECIAC (Engineering College Industrial Advisory Council)

Each fall and spring, the college hosts its industrial advisory council. The October 22 meeting included panel discussions about corporate and student engagement, as well as a state of the college presentation by Jonathan Wickert, dean of the college. Feedback from ECIAC members provides the college with valuable insights that can be applied to strategic planning and operational decision making.

Homecoming awards

Mike Steffenson (BSChemE’59), this year’s recipient of the Anson Marston Medal, topped a list of College of Engineering alumni who received awards as part of Iowa State’s 2010 Homecoming activities.

Umit Ozkan (PhDChemE’84) received the college’s Professional Achievement Citation in Engineering (PACE) award. Benjamin C. Bruns (BSConE’01) and Francis L. de los Reyes III (MSCE’94) each receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

All of the awards were presented at the 79th Annual Honors & Awards Ceremony on October 29.

Steffenson medallion ceremony

Mike Steffenson

October 29 was a busy day for Mike Steffenson and his wife, Jean, as they also appeared at the medallion ceremony for the Steffenson Professorship in Chemical Engineering.

The professorship was formally bestowed upon Brent Shanks, professor of chemical and biological engineering (CBE) who also serves as the director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals at Iowa State.

In addition to funding the professorship, the Steffensons committed $25,000 to provide up to five $5,000 scholarships in CBE for the next academic year. Recipients will be chemical and biological engineering students who are involved in major leadership roles within the college and Iowa State. Another $50,000 has been gifted by the couple to the College of Engineering for a use to be determined at a later date.