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Blue ribbon committee to assess establishment of new engineering program at IU Bloomington

  • Nov. 17, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University announced it has formed a blue ribbon committee to provide recommendations about the proposed establishment of an engineering program on the Bloomington campus.

An outside committee of experts will assess the feasibility of a program in information-technology-based engineering -- proposed last month by IU President Michael A. McRobbie in his annual State of the University address -- that would enable the campus to contribute more extensively to Indiana’s economic development and a state and national need for more graduates educated in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“An engineering program at Indiana University Bloomington is vital if the campus is to reach its fullest potential in providing students with relevant and rewarding educational opportunities,” McRobbie said. “Such a program, based on our strong traditions of critical analysis, creativity, innovation and exploration, will substantially enhance our ability to increase Indiana’s economic competitiveness and support a culture of entrepreneurism all across the state. 

“Hence I am delighted that three such renowned figures in engineering and higher education have agreed to serve on the blue ribbon committee to assess the feasibility of IU Bloomington’s plans for establishing an engineering program.”

The Blue Ribbon Committee on Establishing an Engineering Program at IU Bloomington will be chaired by James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus and university professor of science and engineering at the University of Michigan.

Duderstadt served as University of Michigan president from 1988 to 1996. At Michigan, he was also provost and vice president for academic affairs from 1986 to 1988 and dean of the College of Engineering from 1981 to 1986.

He has received numerous national awards for his research, teaching and service activities, including the E.O. Lawrence Award for excellence in nuclear research, the Arthur Holly Compton Prize for outstanding teaching, the Reginald Wilson Award for national leadership in achieving diversity and the National Medal of Technology for exemplary service to the nation. He has also been elected to numerous honorific societies including the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi.

Joining Duderstadt on the committee will be Anita Jones, professor emerita of computer science and engineering at the University of Virginia, and Eric Grimson, Bernard Gordon Professor of medical engineering and chancellor for academic advancement at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From 1993 to 1997, Jones served as director of defense research and engineering in the U.S. Department of Defense, where she oversaw the department's science and technology programs, research laboratories and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

She served as vice chair of the National Science Board and a member of the Defense Science Board. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Jones received the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association for Women in Computing in 2004.

Grimson, who served as chancellor of MIT from 2011 to 2014, is a member of MIT’s renowned Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and also holds a joint appointment in the Harvard Medical School. He is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and he was awarded the Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching in the School of Engineering at MIT.

The committee will bring an external perspective to the report of a task force of IU Bloomington faculty, which has been convened to develop an internal self-study report on the establishment of an engineering program. Chaired by IU School of Informatics and Computing Dean Bobby Schnabel, it includes the following faculty members: 

  • Esfan Haghverdi, School of Informatics and Computing
  • Mark Janis, Maurer School of Law 
  • Andrew Lumsdaine, School of Informatics and Computing
  • Flynn Picardal, School of Public and Environmental Affairs
  • Rob de Ruyter, Department of Physics, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Sara Skrabalak, Department of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Linda Smith, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Ash Soni, Kelley School of Business
  • Erik Stolterman, School of Informatics and Computing

The report from the internal IU task force, to be delivered by the end of the year, will form the basis of the deliberations and recommendations of the blue ribbon committee. The blue ribbon committee will also meet with faculty and administrators in the university involved in this area.

As McRobbie indicated in his State of the University address, of the 62-member research universities of the Association of American Universities, only four do not have programs in engineering. Of those four, two have joint programs with other institutions. IU Bloomington is one of only two AAU institutions that do not teach engineering.

A new engineering program at IU Bloomington would build upon existing resources in the School of Informatics and Computing, the first such school in the nation. It would also leverage IU’s existing strengths in areas such as chemistry and physics but would not be designed to compete with well-established programs in fields such as aeronautical, chemical, industrial and mechanical engineering at other universities.

More than 100 current faculty on the Bloomington campus possess engineering or comparable qualifications. 

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