David Sanders joins Iowa State Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering as department chair

New leadership to focus on providing exceptional undergraduate and graduate education, expanding research with state and global impact as top priorities

David Sanders has been named the Greenwood Department Chair in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University. His appointment began July 1, 2018.

“Engineering is about problem-solving and people,” Sanders says. “Civil, construction and environmental engineers are uniquely positioned because the systems we design and the problems we solve directly impact people.”

Sanders previously held a university foundation professorship at the University of Nevada Reno’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is a fellow in the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the Structural Engineering Institute and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He has been active in teaching, research, university service and professional organizations, including being a member of the Structural Concrete Building Code Committee and a chair of one of its subcommittees.

David Sanders, incoming Greenwood Department Chair in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
David Sanders, incoming Greenwood Department Chair in Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering

Sanders is a 1984 civil engineering alumnus of Iowa State University. He went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in structural engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

“I have a deep affection for this department and this institution and am excited about what it can offer students and the communities we serve,” he says of Iowa State. “It satisfies a desire to reorient my career from one where I was doing the research and teaching to a career where I’m helping others excel in their research and teaching.”

Sanders’ research has centered on the behavior and design of structural concrete with an emphasis in the seismic design of bridges. He has earned over $15 million in research as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator. He has published more than 300 research publications and given more than 200 technical presentations. He is an active teacher and has mentored 57 successful doctoral and master’s students as an adviser or co-adviser. Learn more about his research by watching the short video below.

In his first months at Iowa State, Sanders wants to take on long-term strategic planning. This will include engaging department leadership, faculty, staff, alumni and departmental friends to formulate a vision of where the department wants to be in the coming years.

An important aspect of the strategic plan is developing methods for advanced teaching, increasing research and expanding global impact. In 2017, ISU CCEE conducted over $16 million dollars in sponsored research. The department has more than 1,000 undergraduates in its two degree programs (civil engineering and construction engineering) and 200 graduate students in the focus areas of construction, environmental and water resources, geotechnical and materials, structures, and transportation.

“The department is already engaged in innovative teaching and cutting-edge research,” Sanders says. “I am excited about sharing that story with others. My role as department chair is to help get the resources and tools in the hands of our faculty and students to make this department even better.”

“Sanders is passionate about providing students the highest quality education, and we look forward to his contributions in this leadership role,” says Sarah Rajala, dean of the College of Engineering. “He will continue the positive and collaborative atmosphere in the department and has strong support from the faculty and staff.”


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