College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Alumnus is the new ECE chair at Rowan University

Robi Polikar
Photo by: Craig Terry

Iowa State University alumnus Robi Polikar knows from experience that the old saying good things come in threes is true. Polikar, who received both his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering at Iowa State, has had a lot to celebrate this year. Not only did he reach the milestone of 10 years of teaching at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, he also was selected as chair of Rowan’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and promoted to full professor.

Polikar’s selection as chair of ECE was a unanimous decision, with all nine voting members choosing him. He was thrilled when Steven Chin, interim dean of the engineering college, appointed him, and he looks forward to fulfilling his duties as chair.

“The chair is responsible for virtually all aspects of running the department,” explains Polikar. He will be busy keeping communication lines among students, faculty, alumni, and the dean in good standing, as well as ensuring the department is operating efficiently in terms of budget and academics.

To add to his excitement, Polikar learned shortly after his appointment to chair that he was also being promoted to full professor. He says the process of the promotion was a long journey that began when he first set foot on campus.

After ten years of being a dedicated researcher and teacher, he was promoted on the basis of sustained excellence and productivity in the college. “Selection requires a record of steady external funding, publishing in prestigious journals, and presenting at conferences; excellent student evaluations; and a distinguished service record, such as serving as an associate editor for journals, organizing conferences, or serving in university committees,” Polikar explains.

He feels the time he spent at Iowa State was an influential stepping-stone for his career. Teaching traditional engineering classes along with a few distance courses gave him invaluable experience in managing classes of various sizes, something he says helped him obtain a faculty position at Rowan. “I was one of a few grad students who was allowed to teach courses independently at Iowa State, not just as a teaching assistant but as the course instructor,” says Polikar. In 2000, he was honored for his service at Iowa State with the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Polikar with student during a brain-computer interface experiment (Photo by: Craig Terry)

He says his time at Iowa State will continue to benefit him as he takes on his new position as chair. “With the exception of budget related responsibilities, much of the chair’s job involves people and communications, and my teachings at Iowa State provided the definitive seed for that experience,” says Polikar.

Excited to begin his full professorship in September, Polikar anxiously awaits the end of summer. He is enthused by the new opportunities ahead of him and hopes to serve the ECE department to the best of his abilities.