Dear Colleagues, Alumni and Friends,
As you may have heard, with Pradeep Agrawal’s retirement in June, I stepped in to fill the department chair role (for the 3rd time) until we can complete a national search for a new chair. When I was asked to return as chair earlier this summer, I was happy to come back to the department I have spent over 35 years helping to build. I was able to come up to speed quickly and get the department on track for fall semester. With all the truly major department changes happening since then, I’d like to take this opportunity to bring you up to date.
I would not be overstating the case to say this is a pivotal time in the history of Michigan Tech’s Department of Chemical Engineering. In addition to Pradeep’s retirement, our long-time colleague Tony Rogers decided to retire after leading our nationally-recognized senior capstone design course for over 30 years—and serving as mentor and advisor for our Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) Enterprise for over 25 years. Professor of Practice Kurt Rickard also retired after helping to rebuild our process control course and co-teaching our UO lab over the past 4 years. (He has now taken the job as mayor of Hancock!). In the previous year, Drs. Tom Co, Faith Morrison and Komar Kawatra, who had over 100 years of dedication to MTU between them, also retired!
We are now faced with a 2 to 3-year rebuilding phase. We will be looking to add several new faculty members, and we’ve already begun the search for rising stars to join the department.
Our longtime academic advisor, Katie Torey, is moving to another position in the university. I originally hired Katie when I was chair 18 years ago, and she has been an invaluable resource for the students and our entire department. Katie will be greatly missed, but we have lured Judy Burl out of retirement to serve as academic advisor until we find a permanent replacement.
On a very positive note, due to the generosity of our alumni, we have a wonderful new Student Learning Center and Department Conference Room. Both are heavily used by students and faculty. We finished a complete renovation of all the classrooms and public areas of the ChemSci Building. Michigan Tech’s new $53M HSTEM addition will be ready for move in by late March 2024. I think you would be very impressed by what we have done over the past few months. Please come for a visit!
Going forward, we are initiating 2 projects that will have a huge impact on our students: a new Senior Capstone Design Lab and a new Maker’s Space for the Enterprise Programs centered in Chemical Engineering. Matching funds for our anticipated infrastructure improvements are also likely to be available for these important projects.
As a former (and now current) department chair, I know how important our alumni supporters and friends like you are to the success of our program. The resources we receive from the state and from tuition dollars are just enough to cover the basic salaries of the chemical engineering program, and little else. It is the generosity of our alumni and industry friends that allows our program to truly excel. If you would like to be a part of this exciting time for our department, be sure to reach out to me, anytime, at email@example.com
Professor and Chair
Department of Chemical Engineering