College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Gearing up for a new academic year, and reflections on last year

Sarah Rajala

Sarah RajalaSummer seemed to quickly pass by as it does every year. I hope everyone was able to enjoy some relaxation and fun. Many of us in the College of Engineering spent July and August moving out of Marston Hall in preparation for the start of the major renovation project. We have relocated to different buildings on campus while our “home” is under construction until the spring of 2016. The new Marston Hall will be student-focused and serve as a warm welcoming place for all visitors. You can follow the progress at our Marston Hall website (including photos of the process).

September brings the start of a new academic year – an exciting time on campus for students, faculty, staff and the community of Ames. This year brings another record enrollment for our college with a total of 8,789 students this fall. This continued growth is a testament to our academic strength and reputation of our engineering program. We now consistently rank in the top 10 programs across the country in terms of undergraduate enrollment, and are currently ranked eighth.

With this growth, I have made it a priority to expand our resources to enhance the learning environment for our students. During the 2013-14 year we hired 22 tenure/tenure track faculty and added five new lecturer positions. We initiated the development of a new plan for renovation and expansion of college space, and completed the Biorenewables Complex by opening Elings Hall and Sukup Hall that provide a new home for our Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Our fundraising effort was the best in college history with gifts and commitments to support scholarships, fellowships, named faculty positions, building improvements and college programs. We plan to continue our great progress this year and grow our resources even more!

During my recent convocation presentation, I had the honor of giving out 8 medallion awards for named faculty positions, 17 patent awards and 9 faculty and staff awards. One of my highlights as dean is to see how the many people in our college contribute to our success. This also includes our amazing engineering students who make our college proud every day with their national recognition in competitions, scholarship awards, campus leadership positions, achievement awards, athletics and volunteerism. You can check out some of our student success stories on our website.

Also this past academic year, we put an emphasis on expanding and increasing our research portfolio. I’m pleased to say our faculty is continuously succeeding in attracting external funding for impactful research. One recent significant award is the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation grant to develop new tools that allow scientists to study the interaction of plant roots with soil to help increase crop productivity – and in turn, increase the world’s food supply. We were also named a top-tier partner in the new and prestigious Digital Lab for Manufacturing based in Chicago, with affiliated partners across the country. This lab is the country’s flagship research institute for digital manufacturing and design innovation – and our partnership enables our college to have a voice in the operations and funding decisions.

I am excited about this new academic year and delivering a high quality education to all the students who will become our future engineering leaders around the world. As always, I appreciate hearing from you and look forward to your comments.