Like many of you, I am excited to be starting our 2021 school year in person. I am overjoyed to see our young people walking the hallways, noisy and eager to learn. I can’t wait for our upcoming ice cream social and for student clubs to dive into new projects. I am excited to hear tinkering in our Frank Innovation Zone, to see students in our tutoring rooms, and to watch hands-on work in our classes. I’m so grateful, especially, for the work of our faculty, staff, and students in keeping each other healthy and safe as classes get underway.
As our summer comes to a close, we have much to celebrate in our research enterprise. Our faculty in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science are leading a $20 million multi-institutional and interdisciplinary project to develop artificial intelligence solutions for challenges in the agriculture industry. This project, in particular, will build on our leadership in the area of artificial intelligence research and is a great example of the real-world impacts that come about from our work. I’m also excited about the work of our rising faculty members, including Idil Akin, who recently received a National Science Foundation Career Development Award for her work to better predict when and where landslides will occur after wildfires.
We also have great student news to report, including students who were named Goldwater Scholars, an IBM Graduate Research Fellow, a Schwarzman finalist, and finalists in an international software engineering competition. These awards mean so much more than a simple plaque or certificate. Rather, based on years of hard work and with the support of faculty and other mentors, these awards represent the launching of a future for our students, whether in research or industry.
Summer is also the time when we say good-bye and welcome new leaders to the Voiland College We are greatly saddened that Balasingham Muhunthan passed away earlier this summer. He served as chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering for a decade and as a WSU faculty member for 30 years. He will be greatly missed. Professor Xianming Shi has graciously accepted the post of interim chair, working in conjunction with professors Tim Ginn and Dave Pollock. We also welcome Alla Kostyukova, who will act as interim director of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical and Bioengineering. Jim Petersen, who served as director for 13 years, has agreed to continue serving on a part-time basis, helping with personnel matters.
Thank you for your continued support of the Voiland College. Your support means more than ever and continues to make a difference in our students’ lives. Go Cougs!
Dean, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99163