Rollins named 2012 TBP McDonald Mentor

Derrick K. Rollins, professor of chemical and biological engineering and professor-in-charge of community-based recruitment and transition at Iowa State University, is the 2012 Tau Beta Pi (TBP)-McDonald Mentor.

Established in 2005 by Marion and Capers W. McDonald and the Association, the McDonald Mentor Award recognizes engineering educators or professionals in industry, government, or service organizations who have shown true concern for the individual by supporting an environment for developing talents, and who have earned respect and recognition for their contributions to their field and to the greater community.

A tireless adviser, Rollins was recognized for his outstanding success in mentoring engineering students. He has proven that with a constant, driving motivation one can succeed in making a difference professionally, academically, and socially where others have not.

Rollins will be honored  September 29, 2012, at the 107th annual convention to be held in Lexington, Kentucky. TBP President Larry A. Simons, P.E., will present $1,000 and an engraved medallion to Rollins. Another $1,000 grant will be presented to the Iowa Alpha Chapter of TBP for nominating him. Rollins has been a member of Iowa Alpha since 1979.

He received his BS in chemical engineering from the University of Kansas, two master’s degrees in chemical engineering and statistics, respectively, from The Ohio State University, and a PhD in chemical engineering from The Ohio State University. He spent time working in industry for DuPont before joining academia.

Rollins joined the faculty at Iowa State in 1990. He is an outstanding teacher, educator, and researcher. His research focus is on bridging the gap between chemical engineering and statistics to emphasize statistical methods of quality control of practicing engineers.

As an adviser, he has served 35 graduate students, more than 130 undergraduate research students, and 50 summer interns, and as a faculty adviser to 11 campus organizations. A particular focus of his work has been encouraging and empowering women, minorities, and youth from underrepresented groups to pursue and succeed in careers related to engineering and science.

His nomination statement declared: “Professor Rollins has consistently supported the personal and professional development of students, including Iowa Alpha members through the Iowa Alpha Scholars Program. He has given back to the community through his tireless efforts to help others in disadvantaged situations overcome the odds and succeed in life through education.”

Rollins has founded or co-founded several programs at Iowa State, including the LEAD program to promote the retention of minorities through pairing up with faculty members; the SPEED summer bridge program to help incoming underrepresented freshmen students become acclimated to life on campus and the rigors of engineering study; and a chapter for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

His life of service has been recognized through several awards, including the prestigious mentor award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellows Award. He has also served as diversity adviser to the President’s cabinet at Iowa State.

At home, Rollins is the proud father of five children: Adina, Cherise, Derrick, Diandra, and Janielle, and husband to wife Anita.

The chapter nomination concludes, “We believe that Dr. Rollins’ leadership and commitment to assisting minority youth to pursue the study of science and engineering, his counseling and mentoring of engineering students both academically and personally, and his caring and unselfish devotion to helping students, friends, and associates makes him an outstanding candidate for this award.”