College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

New leadership positions lead advancement in key undergraduate education outcomes

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Two Cyclone Engineering faculty members have been appointed to new leadership roles aimed at advancing critical aspects of undergraduate engineering education.

Cris Schwartz, professor of mechanical engineering and director of ME’s undergraduate education, has been appointed professor in charge of foundational mechanics course experience, and Jennifer Heinen, teaching professor of chemical and biological engineering and CBE’s director of undergraduate education, has been named professor in charge of continuous improvement and accreditation.

Both Schwartz and Heinen report to and collaborate closely with Sriram Sundararajan, associate dean for academic affairs.

Strong foundations in mechanics

Cris SchwartzSchwartz will lead efforts to enhance the teaching and learning experience in the foundational mechanics course sequence of engineering statics, mechanics of materials, and engineering dynamics.

“Cris will bring his significant skills in engineering instruction and research to facilitate new innovations in foundational course outcomes,” said Sundararajan. “Each of these are large enrollment, cross-disciplinary courses serve as prerequisites for other foundational and core courses in multiple engineering majors, so enhancing student success in these courses will have a far-reaching impact on students across the entire college.”

Schwartz will work collaboratively with the course instructors and departments to collect data for assessment.

“I am looking forward to this new role because, for many of our students, these courses are their first experience with applying fundamental engineering concepts to the world around them. Understanding how well students learn these topics is a first step in making sure these students can be successful – and fully engaged – in their majors,” said Schwartz.

Continuous improvement, accreditation

Jennifer HeinenHeinen will lead the college’s efforts in continuous improvement and ABET accreditation preparation.

“Both continuous improvement and accreditation are at the heart of our assuring that Cyclone Engineers are well prepared for their future careers as engineering leaders, and the experience and expertise Jen brings to this new role will bolster our ongoing commitments to evidence-based program advancement,” said Sundararajan.

Heinen will collaborate closely with department chairs, the ABET committee and other faculty and staff in the college.

“I’m eager to work with my colleagues across the college to develop data-driven recommendations for continuous improvement in the crucial areas of student success, accreditation, and employer demand for Cyclone Engineers,” said Heinen.

Rising leaders in undergraduate engineering education 

These professor-in-charge positions also represent new pathways for engineering faculty leadership development.

“Cris and Jen are both outstanding Cyclone Engineering faculty members ­– and already departmental leaders focusing on undergraduate programs. The new professor-in-charge positions are exciting next steps so Cris’ and Jen’s impact and leadership reach across the college in critical aspects of the quality of our undergrad student experience,” said Sundararajan.