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Source: John English, 785-532-5590, jenglish@k-state.edu
http://www.k-state.edu/media/mediaguide/bios/englishbio.html
News release prepared by: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, 785-532-6415, ebarcomb@k-state.edu

Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009

GOV. MARK PARKINSON'S CALL TO IMPROVE KANSAS ENGINEERING COLLEGES REFLECTS EFFORTS ALREADY UNDER WAY AT K-STATE'S COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

MANHATTAN -- Leaders at Kansas State University's College of Engineering are pleased to hear that Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson's goals for the state's engineering schools echo their own.

Parkinson recently told the Kansas Board of Regents that he wants more Kansas engineering schools ranked in the top 100 by U.S. News and World Report.

"The faculty, staff and students have recently released a new vision for the college," said John English, dean at K-State's College of Engineering. "We want to be a highly ranked college providing quality education within a research environment that develops engineering leaders to benefit society. This matches the governor's vision."

Having a world-class engineering program is essential to the companies who rely on K-State for many of their future employees and leaders, said Carl Ice, chairman of the corporate advisory board for K-State's College of Engineering and executive vice president of BNSF Railway.

"Businesses recognize that we need outstanding engineers to effectively compete in the global market, and we are finding them at Kansas State," he said. "We have been impressed by both the caliber of the programs at the College of Engineering and the bright, dedicated students. In fact, our positive experiences with Kansas State gave my company, BNSF, the confidence to partner with the College of Engineering to work on expanding the pipeline of future engineers through targeted science and engineering workshops."

Jarold Boettcher, a member of the Kansas Board of Regents and a K-State graduate in nuclear engineering, said, "All Kansans welcome the challenge to continuously improve our universities' academic programs and attain the recognition that is earned."

"Cerner has a history of hiring top talent from college campuses, and we've been impressed with the level of 'industry readiness' possessed by K-State engineering program graduates," said Mike Valentine, executive vice president at Cerner, a leading global health care company based in Kansas City, Mo. "K-State engineering graduates come to Cerner with the skills needed to thrive in the complex industries of health care and information technology. We commend K-State for the actions it's taking to build on this tradition of excellence and to further strengthen its engineering program into one of the best in the nation."

K-State's College of Engineering has a strong tradition of undergraduate engineering education. U.S. News and World Report currently lists the college as the 64th best undergraduate engineering program at schools where the doctorate is the highest degree. The magazine's rankings also show that among the Big 12 engineering programs, K-State is No. 4.

"Of course we are proud of our current rankings, but we believe, as Gov. Parkinson suggests, that we can do better by promoting our Communities of Excellence and great tradition of being student focused at the state's premiere land grant institution," English said.

The Communities of Excellence are technical areas in which K-State is targeting to be the best in the world, English said. Currently, some of these areas include biobased energy sources, renewable energy, health care and information technology. On the renewable energy front, the college is home to the Center for Sustainable Energy, which supports assistantships for projects related to enhancing research on renewable energy topics, and the Kansas Wind for Schools program, which supplies the state's K-12 schools with wind turbines for research.

"The new frontier of K-State engineering is to promote academic excellence by wrapping our great undergraduate tradition around evolving pods of research excellence in our current research and graduate programs, " English said.

The college already gives undergraduate students opportunities to conduct meaningful research with faculty mentors. This includes chemical engineering research in which a student is synthesizing new materials with possible applications in water softening, wastewater treatment and odor control. Another pair of students -- including a K-State freshman -- is designing a less expensive solar lantern for people living in sub-Saharan Africa.

English said that Sen. Steve Morris, the current Kansas Senate president, has engaged him and other deans of engineering at Kansas regents universities to determine the resources required to increase graduation by 50 percent, meeting the increasing demand for engineers.

"The deans of engineering at the University of Kansas, Wichita State University and I have a great working relationship, and we are working together with Sen. Morris to pursue opportunities for growth in stature, size and quality of our current infrastructures," English said.