School of Engineering
A Year of Significant Firsts
In its first year, the School of Engineering (SOE) made significant progress. Dietmar Rempfer, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was selected as the inaugural director for the school. Professor Rempfer, who joined PNW from the Illinois Institute of Technology, provides leadership for a distinguished team that includes: Professor George Nnanna, chair of the department of mechanical and civil engineering; Professor Dave Kozel, interim chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering; and a distinguished group of faculty and staff members at both campuses. Collectively, this team provides vision and direction for the school that promises to become a signature program at PNW.
A central focus and point of pride for the SOE have been the hands-on, practical experiences that students greatly benefit from and enjoy. Undergraduate engineering students teamed up with their counterparts from PNW’s College of Technology to participate in various international competitions, including the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, advised by faculty members Harvey Abramowitz and Donald Gray. In 2016, PNW’s teams beat out groups from around the world to win in the university division with the fastest race time of any vehicle participating in the Rover Challenge. They also received the coveted Neil Armstrong Best Design award and a second award for the Rover Sample Retrieval Challenge.
More down to earth, the Formula SAE team, advised by Professor Masoud Mojtahed, spent long hours designing and building a race car for the Formula SAE competition at the Michigan International Speedway. Due in part to redesigning the previous year’s car so that it weighed less than 500 pounds, the team received the Toyota Perseverance Award. Three of the team’s graduating seniors were offered engineering jobs in the automotive industry. Likewise the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Steel Bridge team, advised by Assistant Professor Chien-Chung Chen, placed fourth among universities in the regional competition, and the concrete canoe team performed admirably under inclement weather.
North American energy company Enbridge, through Chicago Regional Director John Gauderman, sponsored the PNW Enbridge Summer Engineering Camp which supports STEM education for middle and high school students in northwest Indiana. PNW hosted the 2017 Materials Camp, which helps provide middle school and high school teachers with the tools and experience to bring materials science into their own classrooms. The event was sponsored by regional chapters of ASM International, a professional organization for material scientists and engineers; Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AIST); and NACE International, a professional organization for the corrosion control industry.
Faculty and Student Scholarship
Sustained levels of scholarship and a steady stream of grants secured by faculty members, such as Chenn Zhou, Chandra Chandramouli, and Li-Zhe Tan, have set a high bar for the school. Also important have been the formation of new collaborations with other scholars both domestically and abroad by faculty members Lucy Yang, Harvey Abramowitz, and Niranjan Desai. For example, undergraduate engineering major Joel Poling from Westville benefited from one such connection when he had the opportunity to spend a summer doing research in Denmark under the supervision of Desai.