College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Former dean of engineering Sarah Rajala elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Sarah Rajala

Sarah RajalaSarah A. Rajala, former dean of the Iowa State University College of Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional recognitions in engineering.

Rajala is being honored for “innovations in engineering education: outcomes assessment, greater participation and retention of women in engineering, and an enhanced global community.” New members of the NAE will be formally inducted in October at the NAE’s annual meeting.

As the James L. and Katherine S. Melsa Dean of Engineering from 2013-2019, Rajala enhanced the breadth and quality of the college’s educational offerings, expanded its research portfolio, renovated and built new facilities, and raised more than $185 million in philanthropic support.

Rajala, now an Iowa State professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering, continues to be an internationally known leader in engineering.

She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ABET, American Society for Engineering Education and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Rajala has also received numerous other top awards including national engineer of the year award by the American Association of Engineering Societies and the national Harriett B. Rigas Award from the IEEE honoring outstanding female faculty.

Her extensive professional leadership in the field of engineering education has included serving as president of the American Society for Engineering Education and chair of the Global Engineering Deans Council.

Before coming to Iowa State, Rajala’s previous administrative positions were at Mississippi State University as dean of engineering from 2008-13, and chair of the electrical and computer engineering department prior to being named dean. She also served at North Carolina State University as associate dean for research and graduate programs and associate dean for academic affairs in the college of engineering. 

Rajala earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Rice University.