James Buchholz

Recipient of the 2018 College of Engineering Faculty Excellence Award for Service

Professor Buchholz has a long history of service to the College of Engineering.  In the past five years, his primary service activities have been in his role as Mechanical Engineering Program Coordinator and through his leadership of the fluids laboratories.

As the ME Program Coordinator since 2015, Dr. Buchholz has been responsible for chairing the ME Undergraduate Committee, including managing ABET activities.  He led the department’s efforts to revise the curriculum and develop a new protocol for assessing student outcomes in the midst of ABET overhauling its program evaluation criteria.  Based on surveys of graduating seniors, capstone design judges, alumni, advisory board members, and faculty, the committee has focused on strengthening and expanding the design curriculum.  In particular, he has renewed the PEDE capstone project and helped to establish a new partnership with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for VIPT.  Dr. Buchholz has a vision to create a rich learning environment for students by expanding their access to manufacturing, measurement, and simulation tools.

This vision led Dr. Buchholz to create the Fluids Workshop beginning in the spring of 2012.  Recognizing an opportunity to expand the impact of the lab, in 2014 he began working with IIHR staff and UI facilities to develop a plan for a suite of laboratories in the new Seamans Center annex to consolidate the fluid mechanics undergraduate laboratory facilities into a central location.  Dr. Buchholz collaborated with Pablo Carrica and others to establish a naval hydrodynamics certificate program supported by an educational towing tank facility.  The project was awarded $600k from the Office of Naval Research STEM education program.  Dr. Buchholz also worked with students to form a new student organization that would develop an autonomous boat to compete in the international RoboBoat competition and provide a vibrant learning community within the Fluids Workshop.  The Iowa Marine Autonomous Racing Club was established with Dr. Buchholz as its faculty advisor, and they are now preparing for their second competition this summer.  

Through a 2016 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, Dr. Buchholz and others have refurbished and updated existing facilities, acquired state-of-the-art instrumentation, and have relocated all of the fluids facilities into the new annex.  The new labs have been in operation since the opening of the annex in October.  Dr. Buchholz is excited to welcome students into the lab and equip them with tools to motivate and inspire them to explore, learn, and make an impact with their work.  The Fluids Laboratories offer students the tools, community environment, and administrative support to test new ideas and deepen their learning in an innovative and collaborative manner.

As DEO Ching-Long Lin notes, Dr. Buchholz is driven by his passion for providing exceptional educational opportunities for students.  He has worked tirelessly to create an outstanding educational facility in the Fluids Lab and Fluids Workshop.