College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Iowa State professor to head agricultural and biosystems engineering department

Steve Mickelson

Steve MickelsonSteve Mickelson, professor in the Iowa State University Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), will become the next chair of the department effective Aug. 1.

He will also be the inaugural recipient of the Charles R. and Jane F. Olsen Professorship in Engineering. The gift was recently made possible through the generosity of Charles and Jane Olsen of Leawood, Kansas, to retain and recognize an outstanding faculty member with research and teaching emphasis in the areas of sustainability, clean water, and the environment.

Mickelson, an Iowa State alumnus who currently serves as director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, co-director of ABE’s learning communities, and associate chair for ABE, will step down from these posts when he takes over for Rameshwar Kanwar this fall. Kanwar has served as department chair since 2001 and will return to the faculty.

The ABE department ranks in the top five graduate and undergraduate programs in the nation, conducts interdisciplinary research, and provides comprehensive extension and outreach programs. It is administered by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and of Engineering.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Mickelson has accepted our offer to serve as the ABE department chair,” said Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “He brings an extraordinary set of experiences in research, teaching, service, and administration that will serve him well in this position. In addition, he has a great vision for the department’s role in implementing the university’s new strategic plan.”

“With six years of experience as ABE’s associate department chair, Professor Mickelson is exceptionally prepared to take on this new leadership role,” said Jonathan Wickert, dean of the College of Engineering. “Adding to that, he is actively involved in the professional community and has had many successes as a strong research collaborator. These accomplishments position him well to promote excellence within the department’s nationally recognized program.”

Mickelson earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in agricultural engineering at Iowa State in 1982, 1984, and 1991, respectively. He joined Iowa State as a faculty member in the College of Engineering in 1982 and joined the ABE department in 1997.

He served as director of assessment in the engineering college for three years, spearheading the successful accreditation of the engineering college’s degree programs. Mickelson is also active in the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education.

He is the author of 60 peer reviewed journal and conference publications.

”I am honored to take over the leadership of a program that already has a very strong local, national, and international reputation,” Mickelson said. “It will be my goal to partner with the ABE faculty, staff, students, and constituents to make our department the premier ABE department in the nation.”

The department educates about 600 graduate and undergraduate students, offering master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural engineering and industrial and agricultural technology. Research, teaching, and extension programs encompass five focus areas: advanced machinery engineering and manufacturing systems, animal production systems engineering, biological and process engineering, occupational safety engineering, and water and environmental stewardship engineering.


Steve Mickelson, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-2402,

Ed Adcock, Agriculture and Life Sciences Communication Service, (515) 294-2314,