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Collura, Ford, Wolf, and Rubin Appointed Associate Deans

Dean Tim Anderson is pleased to announce the appointment of three faculty members and one administrator as the new associate deans for the College of Engineering. The new appointments are: Professor John Collura, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, as the Associate Dean for Research and Innovation; Professor David Ford, Chemical Engineering Department, as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Professor Tilman Wolf, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, as the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Operations; and Kathleen Rubin, the current Assistant Dean, as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Administration. The College of Engineering is indeed fortunate to have these dedicated individuals available to serve in four key positions at this crucial time of growth, evolution, and advancement within the institution.

The research interests of Professor Collura, the director at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Transportation Center, include transportation policy, management, and engineering with an emphasis on the integration of information technology applications into intermodal passenger and freight services. In 2013 Professor Collura was awarded the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) prestigious S.S. Steinberg Award. Serving over 36 years in the industry, he was heralded as a top-notch educator and mentor, spurring the development of the next generation of researchers and practitioners.

The ARTBA added that Collura has played a pivotal role on workforce development issues and in identifying strategies to promote transportation as a career path. He served as co-chair for the 2012 National Transportation Workforce Summit, spearheaded the Council of University Transportation Centers Workforce Development Taskforce, and chaired the Intelligent Transportation Society of America Forum on Research, Integration, Training, and Education.

As Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, Professor Collura will have the following responsibilities:

  • Initiating and/or coordinating major research proposals, centers, or other initiatives
  • Organizing institutional support and leveraging of state, private, and industry sources of funding as required
  • Providing oversight of existing and planned college facilities
  • Managing government relations
  • Promoting research interactions with industry and technology transfer
  • Managing GAMS approval, indirect cost allocations, and research cost-sharing
  • Providing oversight for responsible conduct of research, certified approvers, and research safety
  • Overseeing conflicts of interest, disclosures of outside activities, and intellectual property
  • Representing the Dean and the college priorities at research-related meetings on and off campus

Among Professor Ford’s research interests are statistical thermodynamics, molecular simulation, adsorption and transport in microporous materials, and membrane separations. In 1999 he was the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), which is the “highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers,” according to the White House. As one prime example of his recent research, Ford and collaborators at Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland have received a series of grants from the National Science Foundation’s Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation Program to enable the manufacture of tiny crystalline structures, assembled from particles ten-billionths to ten-millionths of a meter small, whose most far-reaching application is to make “optical transistors” that might soon replace electronic transistors, the building blocks of the modern computer.

Ford also has an interest in engineering education and has served as both Undergraduate Program Director and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Chemical Engineering since joining UMass Amherst in 2006. He is currently on the Advisory Boards of the Diversity Programs Office in the College of Engineering and the Office of Professional Development in the Graduate School. At a national level, Ford has served as Chair of the Thermodynamics and Transport Properties Program Committee of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

As the new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Ford will oversee the following areas:

  • Coordinating ABET activities
  • Providing leadership in undergraduate curricular innovation
  • Chairing the college curriculum committee
  • Potential committee assignments may include but are not limited to: developing/reviewing existing or future courses in the first-year curriculum; expanding open-ended experiential opportunities for students (e.g., interns, study abroad, REUs); initiating cross departmental/college course activity; developing and coordinating CPE courses
  • Providing faculty development resources and opportunities, and may include but are not limited to: coordinating faculty development; managing faculty hiring, sabbaticals, and leaves; organizing programs for women faculty and diversity; overseeing faculty and alumni awards; representing the Dean and the college priorities at academic affairs meetings on and off campus

Professor Wolf is engaged in research and teaching in the areas of computer networks, computer architecture, and embedded systems. His research interests include Internet architecture, network routers, and embedded system security. He is currently lead principal investigator on the ChoiceNet project, one of five large NSF Future Internet Architecture (FIA) projects. He is co-author of the book Architecture of Network Systems and has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and conferences. His research has been supported by grants from the NSF, DARPA, and industry. He has taught numerous courses on computer networks, embedded systems, programming, and digital design. 

Among his awards and honors are the Best Paper Award, IEEE HPSR Conference, 2011; ECE Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, 2010; College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award, 2008; College of Engineering Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, 2006; NSF CAREER Award, 2005; Lilly Teaching Fellowship, 2004; Fulbright Scholarship, 1996.

As the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Operations, Professor Wolf will coordinate the following activities:

  • Providing leadership in graduate studies and may include but are not limited to: curricular innovation; chairing the college curriculum committee; potential committee assignments; initiating new Ph.D. programs (e.g., BME and MSE); Masters Programs/on-line development; initiating cross departmental course activity
  • Providing oversight of college computing needs and Engineering Computer Services utilizing the recent faculty review of computing/ECS as a guide
  • Supporting the Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in initiating and coordinating major research initiatives involving federal agencies
  • Providing development programs for graduate students and postdoctoral associates
  • Assisting the Dean with tenure and promotion cases
  • Leading efforts to increase the number of Ph.D. students and to assist with the recruitment of a diverse Ph.D. student body
  • Representing the Dean and the college priorities at graduate affairs meetings on and off campus

Assistant Dean Rubin has 30 years of broad experience in academic and student affairs in the College of Engineering and currently has the responsibility for the leadership and implementation of services and programs for more than 1,800 engineering students and a staff of approximately 17.  She provides guidance to the Dean, the Department Chairs, and almost 100 engineering faculty on all facets of the undergraduate student experience, including matters of diversity, academic requirements, policies, programs, and resources. 

Assistant Dean Rubin currently serves on 10 campus-wide committees spanning Student Affairs and Academic Affairs that provide for policy and programmatic changes. To date she has been awarded over $3.5 million in NSF funding, including three successful college-wide Research Experience for Undergraduates proposals. From 2002-2007, she was engaged in CASA, and was  responsible for cross-institution Education, Outreach, and Diversity Programs. She is also responsible for the Junior Year Writing Program. She managed the huge increase of the student population, a 50-percent growth spurt in five years from 1,200 to over 1,800 undergraduates with rising academic indicators. Beyond all that, she is the co-founder of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts state-wide STEM Summit, which continues into its 10th year at Gillette Stadium in 2013. (April 2014)