There’s nothing like the beginning of a new academic year at Virginia Tech. Campus buzzes with an unmistakable energy — one that I’m now experiencing myself for the second time.

In reflection on my first year as dean, I’m inspired by the tireless efforts of our faculty and staff to make the College of Engineering one of the best in the nation. Leading the best and brightest students are dedicated faculty – the largest engineering faculty body to date. Our total number of faculty has increased by 100 over the last 13 years, during which we have worked to diversify the demographic.

It is because of the support from our faculty and staff that our students succeed while on campus and our alumni thrive in life after college. 

Because of our faculty's strong commitment, we produce the fifth most engineers in the nation! It’s no surprise as we continue to be sought after by students who want to obtain a degree from this college, seeing a 20 percent increase in applications this year. We are also making strides to diversify our incoming freshman class with 21 percent underrepresented minorities and 20 percent women.

As a land-grant university, we have a responsibility to produce the workforce of tomorrow and the fundamental and applied research to drive the economy and help it flourish. We remain steady in the top 10 for research expenditures in the eighth spot. 

I am excited about the year ahead and encourage all to stay connected and engaged via the College of Engineering’s social media accounts to keep up-to-date on the work happening across campus.

We have a busy year ahead and I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together. 

Let’s go, Hokies!

Julia M. Ross

Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering

 

About Dean Ross

Julia Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering, began her tenure as dean on July 31, 2017. She holds tenured appointments in the departments of chemical engineering and engineering education.

Ross came to Virginia Tech from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she was dean of engineering and information technology. Since joining the UMBC faculty in 1995, Ross served in various roles, including chair of chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering, and supported inter-institutional research initiatives as a special assistant to the provost.

Her research focus centers on the role of fluid mechanics in infection formation in the cardiovascular system. During her career, Ross has received $12.9 million in external funding with a personal share of $9.97 million.

Her grant activity includes a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation/Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (NSF/DRL) for Engineering Teacher Pedagogy: Using INSPIRES to Support Integration of Engineering Design into Science and Technology Classrooms, and a $2.97 million NSF/DRL grant titled “An Examination of Science and Technology Teachers’ Conceptual Learning through Concept-Based Engineering Professional Development.”

Ross is the principal investigator leading the INcreasing Student Participation, Interest, and Recruitment in Engineering and Science (INSPIRES) K-12 initiative. The program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, partners with Baltimore County Schools to develop and implement an innovative curriculum that exposes high-school students to engineering earlier in their educational careers through existing science and technology classes.

In October, Ross was elected to the executive committee of the Global Engineering Dean's Council, where she will serve a three-year term and work closely with engineering deans from around the world to advance engineering education, research, and service globally.

Ross is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. In 2013, she received the American Council on Education fellowship, the nation's premier higher-education leadership development program preparing senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities.

Ross holds a bachelor's degree from Purdue and a doctoral degree from Rice University, both in chemical engineering.

Old photo of Paul Torgersen in front of a blackboard.

The Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean’s Chair in Engineering was established in 2006 by Eric E. Schmidt, chairman and chief executive officer of Google, to honor the Torgersens for their many years of service to Virginia Tech. Paul Torgersen was dean of the College of Engineering from 1970 to 1990 and president of the university from 1993 to 2000. Torgersen died in 2015.