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Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture Innovation 2013 – Aerospace Edition

Message From the Dean

Dean Candis Claiborn

Dear alumni and friends,

I am pleased to share with you our special edition of Innovation, which is devoted to our work in aerospace and aviation.

It’s a very exciting time here in the college, as our work contributes to the strength of our state’s economy, including the aerospace industry. Please see our story on the recent selection of WSU to co-lead the Federal Aviation Administration’s new Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and the Environment. An important part of our land-grant mission has always been to work with industry partners to solve important challenges for the state and nation. We are doing more than ever to encourage collaboration with industry and regional partners, to better prepare our students for the 21st century workplace, and to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship within the college that has real impacts.

For more than a year, I have served as a member of Washington’s Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation (JCATI) board. The group came out of a legislative effort to address technological questions important to the state’s aerospace industry. The center works to support the industry by pursuing research that is relevant to aerospace companies and by providing industry-focused research opportunities for students. In the past year, the center has provided grant support for a total of 14 WSU projects, eleven of which came out of this college. I hope you enjoy reading about the projects from the first round of grants. You can see how our researchers are working closely with industry partners to solve important and very applied challenges for the aerospace industry.

You can also learn about some of the important work we’re doing in the area of aviation biofuels. We were one of just a few universities invited to attend this summer’s Paris Air Show, which brings in 150,000 aviation industry representatives from around the world. Two of our faculty members, Voiland School Director Jim Petersen and Professor Mike Wolcott, who co-directs a $40 million USDA grant for the development of an aviation biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest, attended the air show.

Meanwhile, a group of our students is getting some significant attention for their effort to build the first-ever, university-built liquid hydrogen unmanned aerial vehicle. Take a look at their successful, first test flight, which is featured on our cover! Another group of students is doing important, real design work for Boeing as part of the Boeing Scholars program.

These types of partnerships and collaboration help to build our future workforce, drive innovation, and ultimately build a stronger economy for the entire state of Washington.

The Washington State legislature has recognized our important work and is providing real support to significantly expand our programs. Last year, they directed that $3.8 million currently used to support other programs (both here at WSU and at University of Washington) be spent to grow engineering and computer science enrollments to meet industry demand. With the current fiscal year budget, the legislature has funded additional expansion of computer science and engineering enrollments, with a new allocation of $5.7 M for this biennium. We have already hired 10 new faculty members in our research focus areas, including in environmental research (air and water), smart environments, catalysis, and advanced materials to meet burgeoning student enrollments.

I so appreciate your continuing support for this important work. You are making a difference in helping us to reach our goals. 

Please feel free to contact me or drop by, so I can tell you more about our latest innovations. I look forward to hearing from you.


Candis Claiborn - full signature
Candis Claiborn