CORVALLIS - Two leading researchers and educators have been named as department heads in the College of Engineering at Oregon State University, bringing new leadership to fields of special importance for the growth of high technology and other industries in Oregon.
Terri Fiez, who received her doctorate from OSU in 1990, has returned to head the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She was an associate professor at Washington State University and is an expert and widely published author in the field of analog and mixed-mode integrated circuits.
Carol McConica, most recently on the faculty at Colorado State University, received her doctorate from Stanford University and will head the Department of Chemical Engineering as the James and Shirley Kuse Professor. She began her career with Hewlett Packard, helped to develop the first double level metal chips made by that company in the early 1980s, and is designing new processes for the minimization of toxic waste during integrated circuit fabrication.
Together, these two departments have more than 600 undergraduate and 150 graduate students, producing professional engineers in fields that business leaders have cited as critical to the successful growth of Oregon's most rapidly expanding industries.
Faculty in these departments have expertise in such fields as mass communications and signal processing, computer engineering, integrated circuits, optics, heat and mass transfer, fluidization, reaction engineering, thermodynamics, microelectronic processing, polymer engineering and science, supercritical fluid processing, and high temperature materials.
Both of the new administrators say they are optimistic about opportunities in their fields.
"My goal will be to keep the department in line with industry needs while providing the best education possible to our students," Fiez said. "I want to help the faculty define our short and long term goals, market them, and actively involve industry and alumni in accomplishing our objectives."
The chemical engineering department that McConica will direct is the only one of its type in Oregon and its predecessor once helped educate OSU's most famous alumnus, Linus Pauling, a pioneer of modern chemistry and two-time Nobel laureate.
"With the addition of key faculty in recent years, this department is now poised to make a dramatic research impact while maintaining our strong focus on teaching," McConica said. "I am excited about the possibilities of creating a stronger position in the high tech and biochemical-biomedical fields."
McConica said she also looks forward to better linking OSU's educational curricula with industry needs through hands-on labs, communication and team building skills, and internship opportunities.
Ron Adams, dean of the college, said that the technological revolution in electronics during the past two decades and the growing importance of the high tech industry to the Oregon economy adds special importance to OSU's attraction of prominent engineering leaders such as Fiez and McConica.
Addressing the needs of the future will require increased emphasis on multi-disciplinary teams, partnerships, a diversified workforce, and systems approaches, Adams said, and students trained to function in those types of teams. Fiez and McConica should help lead innovation in all these areas, he said.
The OSU College of Engineering is the largest of its type in Oregon with eight departments which in their history have awarded more than 24,000 degrees, and its graduates regularly score among the highest in the nation on standardized national engineering exams. It also has partnered with industry to create the Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program, or MECOP, a national model for providing students with engineering internships in private industry as an integral part of their educational experience.