Message from the Dean
Dear colleagues and students,
First, I’d like to welcome all of our new students to campus. We are excited to have you here!
For our faculty, staff and students who have been here this summer, and for those who are returning to campus after a summer away doing research, internships or taking a much-needed break, welcome back. Please be sure to introduce yourselves to the new faces you see on campus.
As we all prepare for what I hope will be the start of another excellent academic year next week, I thought I’d highlight some of what we’ve accomplished together during the last five years.
Celebrating milestones, welcoming new faces
We are celebrating three different anniversaries this year — 25 years for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 50 years for the Center for Composite Materials (CCM) and 60 years for the Department of Computer and Information Sciences. On behalf of the College of Engineering, I extend my congratulations to the faculty, staff, students and alumni in these units on reaching these milestones.
Our college continues the strong enrollment patterns established over the past five years with an expected incoming first-year class of 663 and 255 new graduate students. We are proud that all of our new students have chosen to attend the University of Delaware.
We are also welcoming 13 new faculty members, including Srikanth Pilla, who will serve as director of CCM.
Srikanth comes to UD from Clemson University, where he most recently served as the ExxonMobil Employees Endowed Chair for the Department of Automotive Engineering and was the founding director of the Clemson Composite Center. Here in the college he will also hold appointments in the departments of mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering.
Welcome also to the new staff who have started over the past year. Staff fulfill critical functions including student advising, grants administration, human resources, safety and ensuring that our offices run smoothly.
With a commitment to our strategic plan and dedication through a turbulent period over the past few years, we have accomplished so much together. Total enrollment has grown by 6% since Fall 2018, and even more exciting is that the number of students from historically underrepresented groups has grown by 31% in the same time period.
Earlier this summer, we reaffirmed the college’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice by hiring a new full-time director, Noelle-Erin Romero, for the Resources to Inspire Successful Engineers (RISE) program. This program supports our students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to succeed at the highest levels within our programs and beyond in their careers as engineers and computer scientists. We’ve also revived the RISE Academy, an acclimation program for incoming students. I want to thank Marianne Johnson for her tireless and impactful efforts on behalf of the RISE program.
New bachelor’s degree programs in cybersecurity engineering, materials science and engineering and construction engineering and management have been established as well as a dual degree program with Delaware State University. Two of these new programs — materials science and engineering and construction engineering and management — also saw their first undergraduate cohorts graduate in 2023 and 2021, respectively.
In addition to the MS Robotics program launched in 2019, the college is offering a graduate certificate in artificial intelligence starting this fall. These new degree offerings provide a needed workforce for our rapidly changing world. Nearly all of our graduates are employed or pursuing advanced degrees.
Growing our impact
Not only have our annual research expenditures doubled since 2018, our most recent look at this year’s data indicates that research expenditures continue to grow. Through a strong research portfolio, we’ve established several high profile research centers that are having immediate impact in the areas of human health, sustainability, manufacturing and green energy. These centers include the Center for Clean Hydrogen, led by Yushan Yan, the Center for Hybrid, Active, and Responsive Materials, led by Thomas H. Epps, III, the Center for Plastics Innovation, led by LaShanda Korley, the Coastal Hazards, Equity, Economic Prosperity and Resilience Hub, led by Rachel Davidson, the Delaware Center for Musculoskeletal Research, led by Dawn Elliott, and the Institute for Engineering Driven Health, led by Jill Higginson.
Our U.S. News and World Report rankings are improving as well. In the 2024 Best Graduate School Rankings, the college is No. 42 (24 among public universities), and four of our programs moved up in the rankings with chemical engineering reaching No. 7. The chemical engineering undergraduate program was ranked No. 2.
And college fundraising hit a record of more than $20M last year, contributing to the University’s total of $93M. The gifts from our alumni and friends fund scholarships, facilities, research and experiential learning and demonstrate the lifelong relationship between the college and our alumni.
This academic year, we will continue the Power of Applied Chemistry Seminar Series, co-sponsored by Chemours and the University of Delaware, building off the momentum from last spring’s inaugural lecture by Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock.
In the spring we look forward to the inaugural lecture honoring our former dean, Babatunde Ogunnaike, during the Ogunnaike Lecture. Through generous individual and corporate donations, this college-wide lecture will reflect Tunde’s lifelong commitment of bridging academics and industry.
And for students who use the Spencer Lab Design Studio, our college’s academic makerspace designed for engineering education, this fall will be an exciting time as the space’s renovations take shape. With a new, open concept floor plan optimized for student project workflow, and nearly 2,000 square feet of additional space, these renovations will enable students from more than 20 undergraduate and graduate courses to learn how to design, iterate and bring their creativity and new ideas to life.
The college continues to expand its footprint on UD’s STAR campus. Adding to the biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering, and mechanical engineering presence in the Ammon Pinizzotto Biopharmaceutical Innovation Center, faculty from the Computer and Information Sciences and Electrical and Computer Engineering department have moved into the FinTech Innovation Hub. This move enables close research partnerships with industry.
I’d like to leave you with a glimpse into what our future may hold. The University has been working with HGA, a national interdisciplinary design firm, to create a vision for a new building for the college, dedicated to collaborative and interdisciplinary research. This vision includes both the building and plan to revitalize our facilities on central campus. You can learn more about the vision through this video and these images.
It’s been an amazing journey! I am confident that with our continued efforts the future will be brighter.
Levi T. Thompson
Elizabeth Inez Kelley Professor of Chemical Engineering
Levi T. Thompson, Dean
Tradition of Excellence
The University of Delaware (UD) has a tradition of excellence, from the founding of Alison’s academy in 1743 to our research-intensive, technologically advanced institution of today. UD offers a broad range of degree programs in its ten colleges.
The College of Engineering is home to seven academic departments devoted to building a community of problem-solvers focused on challenges associated with sustainability, energy, health care and the environment.
Our internationally recognized faculty includes named professors, National Academy of Engineering members, NSF and DOD faculty career and young investigator award winners, and University teaching award recipients. World-renowned initiatives led by college faculty include college-based research centers and university-based research centers and institutes, all of which provide a fertile training ground for future engineers. This research takes place in modern innovation spaces, such as the Patrick T. Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (Harker Lab), which houses 200,000 sq. ft. of research and teaching space, including the UD Nanofabrication Facility. Additionally, the University’s Science, Technology, and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus expands university-based research and shared research undertaken with corporate partners.
Our students also learn in real-world settings through internships and co-op programs. Student organizations such as Engineers Without Borders give students an opportunity to address engineering challenges in developing countries.
Strategic partnerships with industry, government and academic institutions complement these initiatives, expanding the college’s reach and cultivating a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration, leadership and entrepreneurship among future engineers. Our graduates are leaders in academia and industry alike.