ISU Headlines

ISU College of Engineering creates two larger departments, combines disciplines

Posted June 3, 2009

Students in Idaho State University’s College of Engineering will soon benefit from an increased degree of interdisciplinary research and collaboration as departments in four disciplines form two larger departments.

The College’s departments of mechanical and nuclear engineering will join together June 5. The departments of computer science and electrical engineering will form a single larger department as well. Additionally, faculty from the College of Business’s computer information systems department may assist with teaching and administration of Engineering’s computer science program.

“We are focusing on the needs of business and industry,” said Richard T. Jacobsen, dean of the College of Engineering. “This is what industry and students are looking for: collaborative programs that help disciplines challenge each other to look at problems from new angles.”

The reorganization offers a more efficient and effective model to deliver the latest in research, training and knowledge in critical science and technology fields. The changes will also reduce costs and streamline administrative expenses, helping to meet state-mandated budget reductions which resulted in the loss of two vacant tenure-track faculty positions.

"This is a great opportunity to see what synergies can result from bringing faculty and students in these disciplines closer together," said Gary A. Olson, ISU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. "The problems and challenges of today’s world are too complex to be solved by any one discipline. Integrating these departments will empower us to solve more complex problems and expand each other’s perspectives."

All programs will remain accredited and students will still earn degrees in the individual fields. The change’s primary impacts are on administration and teaching assignments.

The new structure of the college will last at least through the upcoming fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2010. Its successes and accomplishments will be reviewed at that time to determine whether to make the changes permanent.

Additionally, the University is conducting a comprehensive review of the College of Engineering's programs, which will include a comprehensive analysis of programs by nationally-known experts in the field.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for us to envision the engineering college of the future," Olson said. "The review will help us gain ideas and insight on how to better serve our students."

Hossein Mousavinezhad, current chair of electrical engineering, will serve as interim chair for the combined computer science and electrical engineering department. George Imel, current chair of nuclear engineering, will serve as interim chair of the combined mechanical and nuclear engineering department. Associate Dean Subbaram Naidu will serve as interim associate chair for both combined departments to help with the increased workload on a temporary basis while internal and external reviews are in progress.

College of Business faculty members Corey Schou and David Beard have complementary backgrounds and may assist in teaching some of those courses.