The Future of Nebraska Engineering
Dean's strategic research plan addresses needs of government and students.
By Constance Walter,
The College of Engineering has a long history of innovation, invention and ingenuity.
Nebraska Engineers design robots for space exploration, surgery and traffic control; build smart buildings that lower energy costs and sophisticated infrastructures that carry travelers safely and efficiently to their destinations; find innovative ways to heal the human body and fight terrorism; help businesses implement radio frequency identification (RFID) into supply chains; develop tiny structures that will have a big impact on everyday life; and seek better, faster ways to communicate.
David Allen, dean of the college, realizes the impact such research has on everyday lives and with the input of several entities, put together a strategic plan that focuses on five research areas: Transportation and Infrastructure; Bio-medical Engineering and Engineered Bio-resources; Construction and Integrated Building Systems; Manufacturing Nanotechnology, Processes, Systems and Logistics; and Sensing and Communications. In determining the focus areas, Allen said he considered the needs of state and federal governments.
“This is an overlapping combination of what the state of Nebraska needs, what the federal government wants to invest in and where the College of Engineering has tremendous expertise,” Allen said. “We can’t be all things to all people, so we have to invest our limited resources in opportunities that will give us the greatest return for the state.”
Nebraska Engineering professors work with several federal agencies including NASA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and the military; local entities including the Nebraska Department of Roads, Omaha Public Power District and Nebraska Public Power District; national and international organizations including NASCAR; and numerous universities and governments around the world.
To reach the goals set in the strategic plan, Allen has made hiring experts in the five research areas a priority. “This will have a trickle-down effect for our students, who are our most important asset,” he said. “These students in turn will eventually join the job force, hopefully in Nebraska, and provide intellectual property that will fuel the economy of this state.”The Future of Nebraska Engineering