Engineering dean candidates narrowed to two

The search for the next dean of the Penn State College of Engineering has been narrowed to two candidates.

Both candidates will be visiting campus over the next few weeks, engaging in small group meetings and open forums with engineering faculty and staff.

At the forums, the candidates will make brief presentations, followed by an open question-and-answer period.

The first candidate open forum is scheduled for 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. on Sep. 5 in 117 John Bill Freeman Auditorium in the HUB-Robeson Center. The second candidate is scheduled for 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sep. 16 at the same location.

Information on the candidates will be announced by the search committee in the near future.

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Multicultural students prepare for success

The Multicultural Engineering Program Orientation (MEPO) kicked off yesterday and welcomed students to an exciting three-day program for incoming engineering freshmen. MEPO is designed to introduce students to the College of Engineering, the Office of Engineering Diversity and to Penn State. It allows students to get a head start on the Penn State computer systems and software and provides resume workshops.

Every student who participates in MEPO is assigned a mentor. MEPO mentors are upperclassmen engineering students who represent Penn State and provide information to new engineering students and families. They stay connected with their mentees and act as a resource throughout the school year.

To find out more about what activities have taken place during MEPO this week, take a look at the gallery below.

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WEPO introduces students to the College

For the next three days, incoming engineering freshmen will participate in an interactive orientation program designed to introduce female students to the College of Engineering. The Women in Engineering Program Orientation (WEPO) includes workshops, seminars, activities and games that will not only prepare the students for success inside the classroom but will also prepare them for a successful career in the engineering field.

So far, students have participated in a balloon tower competition sponsored by Air Products, a picnic at Spring Creek Park and a broomball tournament. Check out pictures from these activities in the gallery below!


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Dean search update

After Dean David Wormley announced his retirement in February, a search committee was convened for the next leader of the College of Engineering.

Engineering Dean David Wormley, left, and his wife Shirley were honored earlier this year with the David and Shirley Wormley Excellence Fund for the Support of World-Class Engineers. Earlier this year, the long-time engineering dean announced his plan to retire from Penn State.

Engineering Dean David Wormley, left, and his wife Shirley were honored earlier this year with the David and Shirley Wormley Excellence Fund for the Support of World-Class Engineers. In February, the long-time engineering dean announced his plan to retire from Penn State.

According to an email to the college’s faculty and staff by David Hall, a member of the search group and dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology, the committee has evaluated a large number of applicants and nominations and has developed a short list of candidates who have been recommended to the provost for campus interviews.

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost will be contacting these candidates to arrange for campus interviews with administrators, faculty, staff and students over the next two months.

Wormley continues as dean of engineering as the search for his replacement progresses.

He was appointed dean on July 1, 1992. During his tenure, the college’s research expenditures grew from $32 million to $131 million and its endowment increased from $14 million to $173 million.

Wormley has a prominent national profile, having served on the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Assessing the Capacity of U.S. Engineering Research. He was chair of both the National Science Foundation Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee and the Executive Committee of the National Research Council Transportation Research Board. He chaired the National Research Council’s Committee for a Study of a Motor Vehicle Rollover Rating System and served as president of the American Society for Engineering Education. Wormley was elected an honorary member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2010.

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Celebrating a chemical engineer’s success

Lisa Callender, a 2003 chemical engineering alumna, was named the winner of the 2013 Early Career Recognition Award by the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Lisa Callender, a 2003 chemical engineering alumna, was honored with the department's Early Career Recognition Award.

Lisa Callender, a 2003 chemical engineering alumna, was honored with the department’s Early Career Recognition Award.

Callender is operations leader of Dow Chemical Company’s Midland herbicide formulation and packaging facility, one of the largest herbicide facilities in the world. She began her career at Dow as a process engineer.

She remains active at Penn State, assisting with the Women in Engineering Program Orientation, guest lecturing in chemical engineering classes and serving on Dow’s recruiting team.

Established in 2012, the department’s award is designed to honor an outstanding Penn State chemical engineer at the outset of his or her career. The award is based on the recipient’s professional accomplishments, leadership activities and potential for continued success.

Callendar received her award at the department’s 50th anniversary banquet in July.

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The inner workings of the Penn State EcoMachine

In the shadow of Beaver Stadium, on the far east fringe of campus sits the EcoMachine Greenhouse, part of The Sustainability Institute.

On a perfect Happy Valley day, I had the opportunity to tour of the facility and meet Dr. Rachel Brennan, associate professor of environmental engineering and director of the EcoMachine initiative at Penn State.

Having previously worked as the marketing director for a small water/wastewater engineering firm, I was aware of some of the steps needed to treat wastewater in order to reuse it for irrigation, industry applications, and even human consumption, but I learned about how Dr. Brennan and her researchers are using duckweed, plants, and fungi to clean water. This video featuring Dr. Brennan says it much better than I ever could, so take a moment to learn about her team’s efforts and see them at work.

Dr. Brennan also provided me with a little history of the EcoMachine concept, founded by Dr. John Todd in 1989, as the basis for a green solution to water and wastewater treatment. In fact, Dr. Todd’s non-profit firm, Ocean Arks International, consulted on the Penn State EcoMachine design.

Dr. Brennan’s enthusiasm for what she does is certainly contagious. I don’t know if it was the perfect weather, the beautiful flowers or Dr. Brennan’s explanation of what they do at the EcoMachine Greenhouse that had me so intrigued by this research project, but I encourage you to learn more about the greening of water treatment, and specifically Dr. Brennan’s work.

And one last thing: Dr. Brennan casually mentioned that her research earned a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, enabling the team to further explore the benefits of using a natural ecosystem to clean water of pharmaceuticals, metals, and other contaminants. While she was very low-key about the award, we at the College of Engineering couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishment. Well done!


Dana Marsh, director of marketing and communications for the College of Engineering, freely admits that she’s not an engineer but is fascinated by how the work of engineers impacts every aspect of a human’s day-to-day existence: from the houses we live in and the roads we drive on, to the smartphones and computers we rely upon. She’s now made it her mission to educate non-engineers about the real-world applications of leading-edge engineering initiatives. 

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Flying high: Students win best poster prize at AHS event

A team of Penn State engineering students won the Best Poster Presentation Award at the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) Student Challenge earlier this summer at the American Helicopter Society (AHS) Forum 69 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Penn State's Gnittany Gnat team won the Best Poster Presentation Award of $500 at the AHS Forum 69 in Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo by Joasn L. Pereira)

Penn State’s Gnittany Gnat team won the Best Poster Presentation Award of $500 at the AHS Forum 69 in Phoenix, Ariz. (Photo by Jason L. Pereira)

The MAV Student Challenge tasked five student-research teams to design and build a vehicle capable of autonomous target acquisition and hover.

None of the teams were able to successfully complete the challenge. In addition to the Penn State team’s $500 prize for best poster for its Gnittany Gnat, the University of Texas at Austin won $1,000 for Best Manual Challenge Execution, which included flying line of sight to a target and then doing a sensor-guided, remotely operated hover over target.

The annual contest is sponsored by AHS International’s Unmanned Vertical Take Off and Landing Aircraft and Rotorcraft Committee, with $3,000 in prizes from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

More on the contest can be found at:

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