It’s hard to believe that it’s already August and that we’re once again starting another school year. I would like to thank you for all your hard work last year and hope you have had a chance to catch your breath this summer.
As you know, we’re seeing a great deal of exciting change in the college as we significantly expand our programs. For example, our School of Design and Construction was recently established through a collaboration between the Architecture and Construction Management and design disciplines of Interior Design and Landscape Architecture in the College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. The re-structured program allows for an interdisciplinary approach to design that is unique in the country.
The Washington State legislature last year directed that $3.8 million currently used to support other programs (both here at WSU and at University of Washington) is spent to grow engineering and computer science enrollments to meet industry demand. With the current fiscal year budget, the legislature has funded additional expansion of computer science and engineering enrollments, with a new allocation of $5.7 M for this biennium. The state recognizes the essential role that our graduates play in growing our economy in a wide range of fields, including in the aerospace and high tech industries, and is responding to those industry needs.
With employers clamoring for our graduates and increased state support, students are now getting the message about the important work that we do in this college. As you are very well aware, more students than ever are coming here. Since 2006, total enrollment in engineering has grown by 49 percent, and the number of new freshmen with an interest in engineering has grown by 67 percent. The number of new transfer students who intend to study engineering has grown by 48 percent since 2008. In particular, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of students interested in computer science.
While we are educating more students, we are also doing more to address industry needs in the state of Washington:
• Seven WSU research groups have recently received support through the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation’s second funding cycle to address technological questions important to the Washington aerospace industry. These faculty members are helping our state’s aerospace industry by pursuing research that is relevant to aerospace companies and by providing industry-focused research opportunities for students.
• We have established a new mechanical engineering program in Everett and have expanded our program in Bremerton in order to serve place bound students. The WSU ME program in Bremerton graduated its first class of 14 students in May, 2012, and the new Everett ME program accepted its first class of 24 students in August, 2012. The graduates of these programs are helping to meet industry need for engineers in their communities. For instance, 75 percent of the May 2013 graduates of the Olympic program had engineering job offers before Thanksgiving.
• We have hired Travis Woodland as our commercialization specialist and are starting to see some exciting developments as we begin focused efforts to commercialize important research. Our researchers have recently received support from the Washington Research Foundation to equip a battery manufacturing laboratory for the building and testing of new lithium battery materials in commercial sizes.
I know you all – faculty and staff – have worked really hard to accommodate all these new students. You, the faculty, have done this while maintaining your research programs. All of your efforts are greatly appreciated. You will be pleased to know that, in order to meet the needs of our growing programs, we will be adding new faculty and staff over the next few years. We have already hired 10 new faculty members in our research focus areas, including environmental research (air and water), smart environments, catalysis, and in advanced materials. I hope you will join me in welcoming our new faculty members who are joining our college in this time of significant growth. In particular, I would like to mention the following, new senior faculty members:
• Mike Kessler will serve as director of the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and comes to us from Iowa State University.
• Norbert Kruse has accepted the Voiland Distinguished Professorship in the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. He joins us from Université Libre de Bruxelles.
• Von Walden joins the Laboratory for Atmospheric Research as a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering this fall. Dr. Walden is very well-known for his contributions to our understanding of climate change and water resources.
We will have a busy year this year as we conduct numerous searches – stay tuned for more information!
I would also like to mention three other individuals that have been providing extraordinary service to the College this summer. Dave Field has been serving as the interim director of the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering AND as the associate dean for research and graduate studies. Max Kirk is serving as the interim director of the School of Design and Construction (and postponed his professional leave to do so!). And Lori Palmer has been serving as both the interim finance budget manager for CEA and as a fiscal analyst (her “normal” position).
Finally, I’d like to share with you some recent news items (see sidebar) from around the college. I hope you enjoy reading about the accomplishments of your colleagues. I also invite you to join us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn where you can keep up with our college news.
Please let us know when you have a great research or student story that we can share. I so appreciate your hard work in building our programs, providing quality education for our students, and conducting research that has a significant impact.
Students will spend their 'redshirt' first year acclimating to university-level courses and workload and preparing to major in an engineering discipline.
Exploring 3D Printing
NASA will send a 3D printer to space, which could put WSU professors’ research on printing with moon rock to work
From moon rock objects to printed ears, WSU team Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose take 3D printing to new levels.
The Smart Grid: Developing a Workforce
Our ongoing partnership with Avista Corp. strengthened recently thanks to a five-year pledge commitment of $325,000. The pledge will support the Energy Systems Innovation Center and WSU’s power engineering curriculum to prepare a workforce for new Smart Grid technologies.
WSU is one of seven colleges and universities around the U.S. who will receive awards from the Department of Energy to better prepare the electricity industry workforce of the future in synchrophasor technology.
Find out how CEA is building partnerships and conducting research to help fill Washington state’s high-tech industry needs.
Impacting the Future of Aerospace
Representatives from WSU attended the 50th International Paris Air Show to promote the university's expertise in developing viable alternative jet fuels.Hands-On: The Outside of Class Experience
Test flights of a battery-powered version of what's intended to be the world's first university-built, liquid hydrogen-powered airplane have been conducted by students at WSU.
Melissa Anderson, who just received a master’s degree in interior design, set out to examine how everyday sensations tied to the classroom’s physical environment impact learning and behaviors in students with autism.
Watch WSU student Nathan Darnall’s video that won judge’s choice award in the competition sponsored by the National Science Foundation
Landscape architecture students led by associate professor Bob Scarfo spearheaded planning for an experimental, self-sustaining community in Spokane’s Hillyard neighborhood.
Congratulations to chemical engineering student Monica Bomber. She is an alternate for a prestigious Boren scholarship and aims to study Swahili this summer, so she can someday do water purification engineering work in East Africa.
While engineers worked to rebuild the Skagit Bridge, WSU students joined universities from around the country to compete in a smaller scale bridge-building race.
"The excitement we have seen on the faces of kids of all ages make this effort worthy,” said Abu-Lail, associate professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering and faculty adviser for WSU's chapter of Society of Women Engineers. "We will do it over again and again.”