Engineering @ IOWA - A Profile

April 2012

The College of Engineering is one of 12 colleges that comprise The University of Iowa. With educational courses dating back over 100 years, the College today has an enrollment of about 2,000 students – over 1,600 of who are undergraduates. About 55 percent of undergraduate students come from the state of Iowa (80% from Iowa and Illinois), with the remaining 45% percent attending from contiguous states and abroad.

The College teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework in biomedical, chemical and biochemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, industrial, and mechanical engineering.  The Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) has accredited all University of Iowa undergraduate engineering programs. 
The college stands out among many other engineering schools, in part, because all six programs have major teaching and research linkages to the University’s Health Sciences colleges (Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing and Public Health) – including shared courses, collaborative research, and joint faculty appointments. Currently, 15 engineering faculty members also have appointments in the UI Health Sciences colleges; 35 faculty members from Health Sciences also have appointments in the College of Engineering.

Engineering at Iowa is especially recognized for its personalized student-oriented mission—coupled with the resources of a large research university. By design, it is the smallest engineering college in the Big Ten, providing a rigorous, success-driven educational environment. The College is ranked among the top 20% of graduate and undergraduate colleges of engineering in the nation.

There are more than 13,400 alumni living and working throughout the world – 3,600 alone in the state of Iowa – many with corporate and personal ties to the College through recruitment, mentoring, guest seminars, faculty consulting, sponsored research, financial giving, and other interactions.  Among distinguished alumni are nine members of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the National Academy of Science.  There also are industry and government leaders -- CEOs, COOs, CTOs of Deere, Exxon, Praxair, Stanley Consultants, Broadband Communications Products, Union Carbide, Rockwell Collins, Electrospace Systems, Cessna Aircraft, AT&T, and HP; two Chiefs of Engineer, Army Corps of Engineers; a minister of foreign affairs of Ireland; two ministers of education of Taiwan; the president of Hokkaido Institute of Technology in Japan; a former governor of the Virgin Islands; and a co-founder of the Peace Corps.

Uniformly Superior Student Quality

Many of our students come to The University of Iowa because they know with confidence that they want to become engineers, but they want to be something more. At Iowa, they can combine engineering with the University’s strong liberal arts focus—with natural strengths in international studies, writing and communications, health sciences, business, law, arts and humanities. This makes The University of Iowa uniquely qualified to provide talented students the type of broad technological education demanded in a rapidly changing world.

For example, the College is the first in the U.S. to offer a Technological Entrepreneurship Certificate with an engineering degree.  The program is designed to open engineering students’ eyes and minds to the economic value of their profession and to encourage entrepreneurial spirit.

Also, the College has a unique Hanson Center for Technical Communication. The Center is designed to integrate writing-to-learn strategies and project presentation skills into curriculum; teach students efficient ways to conduct research, gather evidence, and identify audiences; and help students gain confidence as speakers and writers.  It also creates opportunities for summer short courses in improved technical communication for industry.

Our Grand Challenges Scholars program is the 7th in the U.S. and the first Big Ten engineering school to be approved by the national committee. The scholarship program allows recipients to choose their own academic focus from among a list of world-class challenges and study under the direction of a faculty mentor has named its initial four scholars.

In addition, the College enjoys a considerable number of additional characteristics that make it attractive to talented students, faculty, researchers, and corporate employers:

  • The College emphasizes a “small college” environment with very close faculty-student ties.
  • Undergraduates enter directly into the College as freshmen.
  • There is no “weed out” philosophy.  The College puts energy and resources into seeing that every first-year student becomes a successful graduate.
  • From over 1,700 applications received every year, only about 450 first-year students are enrolled.  Undergraduates enter directly into the College their freshman year.
  • Students consistently enter the College from the top 20th percentile in high school class rank and top 10th percentile in ACT score (28 average on 36.0 scale) – with both high math and verbal scores.
  • Engineering students (6% of total university enrollment) are awarded 15% of the top University first-year student merit scholarships.
  • In the past 40 years, 24 Engineering students have earned the prestigious University of Iowa Hancher-Finkbine Medallion for achievement and leadership upon graduation.
  • The College’s undergraduate biomedical engineering program is one of only 65 accredited biomedical and bioengineering undergraduate programs in the U.S.
  • 84% of graduating seniors participated in co-ops, internships, and faculty mentored research; more than 50% graduated with a double major, minor, certificate, and honors with distinction.
  • 96% of May 2011 graduates were either hired or pursued a graduate/professional degree; Median salary offers averaged $55,000.

Faculty Teaching, Graduate Programs, and Research Excellence

Our 87 faculty members are both classroom- and research-focused.  Over 88% of our undergraduate courses in engineering (counting lectures and discussion sessions) are taught by tenure and tenure-track faculty.  There are about 18 undergraduate students per faculty member.  Each faculty member mentors an average of about four graduate students, and generates about $602,000 in collegiate and interdisciplinary research funding.  Total annual expenditures for both college and interdisciplinary research amount to more than $51.2 million.

The College of Engineering excels nationally and internationally in several specialty and interdisciplinary research areas. Students work very closely with faculty on computer simulation, human factors, environmental health solutions, biotechnology, medical imaging, hydraulics and water/air resources, photopolymerization, and sustainability, among many other areas. The College has an established global reputation for its four formal research units—Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Center for Computer-Aided Design, IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, and Iowa Institute for Biomedical Engineering.  Its faculty also has strategic teaching and research ties with a multitude of interdisciplinary areas on the University of Iowa campus.  Currently, 28 engineering faculty members (33%) hold secondary and appointments in other Engineering departments and UI colleges, including Liberal Arts and Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Public Policy Center, and Urban and Regional Planning.  Forty-nine UI faculty members from other UI colleges and departments hold secondary appointments in the College of Engineering.  Sixty-two engineering faculty members (69%) have affiliations with 14 major University research centers and institutes.

Vision and Goals of the College

The College’s vision is to be the best at serving society by creating engineering knowledge and educating engineers for dynamic and global careers.  Characteristics and aspirations enabling the College to realize its vision include:

  • Contemporary and rigorous educational experiences that develop the engineer and something more;
  • An atmosphere that facilitates personal commitment to the educational success of students in an environment that values diversity and community;
  • Education and research partnerships with UI colleges, and targeted agencies, universities, and industries;
  • Highly successful alumni who contribute to the profession in the global society;
  • Undergraduate programs that integrate global awareness, communication skills and team building across the curriculum;
  • Internationally recognized research programs;
  • Prudent and accountable resource management;
  • Graduate education and training that prepares students for interdisciplinary engineering research and advanced problem solving;
  • Leadership and service to meet society's needs.

The College’s strategic priorities -- the four complementary, mutually supporting areas in which we will invest for accelerated advancement -- are directly aligned with those of the University:

  • Student success;
  • Knowledge and practice;
  • New frontiers in the arts;
  • Better futures for Iowans.