In August 2013, Time magazine published an article expressing optimism that the U.S. economy was poised for growth. Part of the reasoning is based on increased consumer spending and bank lending, but a significant factor is American technology and innovation - including the lead role of our research-focused universities.
The past year has seen a high level of innovation in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, arguably more than in any other of the 12 years I have served as dean. A few examples of innovation are cited below and described more fully in this issue of CUEngineering.
Research: One area of research innovation relates to understanding and improving the natural and built environments. In the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Professor Kristine Larson and her colleagues are using a Global Positioning System (GPS) to measure volcanic plumes, snow depth and soil moisture, producing new data that will ultimately help us understand climate change and weather patterns. In the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, Professor Abbie Liel and her team are developing computer models of building damage due to earthquakes, to determine cost-effective means to implement safety improvements.
Another area of global importance is energy. Professor Alan Weimer and his students in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering are developing a novel solar technology to form hydrogen by splitting water at high temperature, while professors Sehee Lee and Conrad Stoldt in the Department of Mechanical Engineering are creating solid-state batteries for more effective electric cars.
Education: Our college has a long history of innovation in hands-on engineering education, as exempliﬁed in our award-winning Integrated Teaching and Learning Program and Discovery Learning Center. Our faculty is also making innovative advances in health and wellness, including 3D printing for visually impaired students and the use of nanophotonics to diagnose and treat cancer. Our faculty has also developed several new degree programs in the past few years, with the most recent being the General Engineering Plus program launched this past fall. Students in “GE+” earn an undergraduate engineering degree with a disciplinary emphasis and a “plus” concentration that prepares them to teach math or science in secondary schools or pursue business, medicine or other careers beyond traditional engineering.
Facilities: Furthering our core value of hands-on learning is the Idea Forge. Currently under construction in the former law library, it will provide 22,000 square feet of open, ﬂexible “makerspace” for student design projects. Its location is adjacent to our newest Residential Academic Program (RAP), the Spanish-speaking Global Engineering RAP, in the newly renovated Kittredge Central residence hall.
It is an honor to serve as the engineering dean at CU-Boulder and to work with our innovative faculty, staff, students and supporters as we advance at the forefront of modern engineering research and education. I hope that you will enjoy reading more in this issue and supporting our efforts.
Robert H. Davis
Dean and Tisone Endowed Chair