Engineering dean with students

Martin Dunn signs on as new engineering dean

Whirlwind first semester puts strategic plan in motion

April 25, 2018

The university welcomed Martin Dunn, PhD, as dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) in January. As the semester draws to a close, Dunn is moving full speed ahead on plans to differentiate the college and position it as a leading innovator for the future of engineering education.

“The significance of universities – and in particular engineering colleges – has never been greater, as countries around the globe are looking toward knowledge and innovation to build their economies,” Dunn said.

From Singapore to downtown Denver

“I was attracted to CU Denver because of the university’s unique urban setting in the thriving city of Denver.”

– Martin Dunn

“I was attracted to CU Denver because of the university’s unique urban setting in the thriving city of Denver, the talented faculty and staff, the emphasis on hands-on education and the growing research enterprise,” he said. “And I am so impressed by the students here, their passion and their sense of purpose. With this combination of assets, the sky is the limit.”

Dunn, who was hired following a national search, joins the college from Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), a new technical university built in partnership with MIT. As associate provost for research at SUTD, he oversaw the design and operation of the research and innovation enterprise. A mechanical engineer, he also founded and directed the SUTD Digital Manufacturing and Design Centre.

His resume also includes positions with Boeing Company, Sandia National Laboratories and the National Science Foundation, as well as a mechanical engineering faculty position at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he served as chair and associate dean for research in the college.

A human-centered design approach

Martin Dunn, PhD
Martin Dunn, PhD, became the new dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science in January 2018.

Dunn kicked off 2018 with a unique human-centered design approach to create a shared vision for the college and a strategic plan to realize it. He has conducted a listening tour with employers and engaged globally recognized experts to consult on strategies to set the college up for a future of growth, success and increasing impact.

With his extensive background in academia, government and industry, Dunn brings a rich perspective to CU Denver. He will champion contemporary experiential learning with an emphasis on entrepreneurial and global perspectives. He aims to support scholarship and partnerships that create and translate knowledge to have an impact both in the Denver urban corridor and across the globe.

The recent success of Impressio, Inc., is an example of how use-inspired research has been successfully translated at CU Denver. The startup was founded by Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Chris Yakacki, PhD, to commercialize a breakthrough discovery in liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) technology. In 2018 alone, the company has received more than $200,000 in grant money from the National Football League and the State of Colorado to test the new material in what promises to be a safer football helmet.

“Impressio shows us how a discovery made in a research lab with undergraduate and graduate student participation can rapidly make an important commercial and societal impact,” Dunn said. “It exemplifies the holistic integration of research, education and innovation that we will emphasize.”

Blending hands-on learning with social skills

“With curriculum that blends hands-on learning of contemporary technology and continual reinforcement of human and social skills, such as creativity, teamwork and critical thinking, the CU Denver engineering experience will be continually cutting-edge and allow our students to differentiate themselves and stand out in the market,” he said.

The college is also gearing up to become more agile and responsive to deliver relevant, authentic and active learning to large student corhorts.

“As the college embraces the need to contribute to Colorado’s pipeline of engineers and computer scientists, we are looking for new ways to mass customize experiences, so that students have more flexibility and choice to pursue diverse and interdisciplinary lines of inquiry,” Dunn said.

Dunn is successor to Marc Ingber, PhD, who took a faculty position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering after serving as CEAS dean for seven years. Stephen Gedney, professor and chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering, served as interim dean from July 2017 to January 2018.

With Dunn at the helm, CEAS is well-positioned to serve students and employers in need of excellent STEM education.

In addition to the new dean, CEAS welcomed the following tenure-track faculty for academic year 2017-2018:

Ashis Biswas, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering
PhD, University of Texas at Arlington
Research areas: machine learning, big data analysis, data mining, bioinformatics

Satadru Dey, Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering
PhD, Clemson University
Research interests: control, estimation and fault diagnosis of dynamic systems with application to energy, transportation, batteries, electric vehicles

Allison Goodwell, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research interests: ecohydrologic process networks, information theory and network applications to ecosystem data and modeling, hydrology and weather variability

Vijay Harid, Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering
PhD, Stanford University
Research interests: long-wave electromagnetics, geophysical plasmas and computational physics

Liang He, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering
PhD, Nankai University, Tianjin, China
Research areas: cyber-physical systems, cognitive battery management, mobile computing and systems, Internet of Things (IoT)

Haadi Jafarian, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering
PhD, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Research areas: proactive security for cyber threats, big data analytics for cyber threat intelligence, security analytics and automation, security of cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things (IoT)

Feng Lin, Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering
PhD, Tennessee Technological University
Research areas: mobile and pervasive sensing, cyber-physical security, smart and connected health, human-centric computing

Alireza Vahid, Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering
PhD, Cornell University
Research interests: network information theory, theory of communications, coding theory, data storage and memory systems