College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Iowa State University engineering dean receives national award for women with exceptional contributions to engineering education

Engineering Dean, Sarah RajalaSarah Rajala, dean of the Iowa State University College of Engineering, is the 2015 recipient of the Harriett B. Rigas Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Education Society.

Rajala received the national award that recognizes outstanding female faculty for exceptional contributions to electrical and computer engineering education and the global engineering community through student and faculty development, transformational and inclusive institutional and professional leadership, and engineering accreditation service.

Rajala was appointed the 12th dean of the Iowa State College of Engineering in April 2013 and is the first female to hold this position. She has consistently broken new ground in the engineering field throughout her career and serves as a role model for young women.

Diane Rover, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Iowa State, nominated Rajala for this award. “Dr. Rajala has been a trailblazer for women in engineering throughout her career, often being the first woman to attain some significant milestone,” Rover said. Consider these milestones regarding Rajala’s career:

  • Only the third woman to earn an electrical engineering degree from Michigan Tech in 1974.
  • First female professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University.
  • Established the “Women in Engineering” program at North Carolina State University.
  • Created programs to improve retention of minority engineering students at Mississippi State University.
  • First female engineering dean at Iowa State University.

Rajala had a distinguished career as a professor and center director prior to moving into administrative leadership positions. She joined Iowa State from Mississippi State University where she was dean of the Bagley College of Engineering. She is active in many national and international organizations including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, who awarded her this honor.

The Iowa State College of Engineering is the largest college on campus with 9,312 total students – and the undergraduate enrollment ranks 8th largest in the country. The college offers 12 majors and five minors and is consistently ranked a top 25 engineering program at public universities.

This story was also featured on BusinessRecord.