Fall 2019 Newsletter

College of Engineering

Fall Newsletter PDF

Dear Alumni and Friends of the College of Engineering,

The start of the fall semester has always been one of my favorite times of year. And this year's Welcome Week was particularly exciting because it was our first one to include the Department of Computer Science, which officially joined the College of Engineering July 1.

Adding a department is no easy task, but I see several advantages to the move, including the natural fit that computer science has with our other disciplines and the fact that computer science already offers software engineering graduate degrees and is interested in expanding software engineering to the undergraduate level.

Adding departments is not the only way we are looking to grow our college. We understand the importance of strategically increasing our enrollment, both for the health of the university and to serve the workforce needs of our industry partners. We are in the final stages of launching two new programs, a robotics minor and an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering. I believe both will help the college standout to prospective students and have a positive impact on the experiences of our current students.

NDSU's unwavering commitment to the student experience will be something you'll be hearing a lot about over the next few months. The university is set to launch its largest capital campaign in history on October 10. In Our Hands: The Campaign for North Dakota State University is focused on four areas of student-impact: scholarships, faculty, facilities and programs.

I know that philanthropy is a key driver to the success of the college. That's why we've made increasing engagement with donors, alumni and other stakeholders one of our strategic initiatives. We've also identified several fundraising priorities for the college including equipment for the new environmental engineering and robotics teaching labs, renewable scholarships for incoming freshman and support for our Grand Challenges Scholars program. I believe focusing on these areas will help achieve our mission to prepare innovative problem solvers and create new knowledge to improve lives around the world.

Thank you for your support for the College of Engineering. Go Bison!

Michael R. Kessler
Dean, NDSU College of Engineering

New IP Address: Department of Computer Science Joins the College of Engineering

This summer saw the addition of a few hundred new faces to the College of Engineering family. On July 1, the NDSU Department of Computer Science officially joined the College of Engineering. The exciting change is the result of more than a year of hard work.

“With the growth of big data in engineering and the evolution of various cyber-physical systems, the line between traditional engineering and computer science continues to become more blurred,” said Michael Kessler, dean of the College of Engineering. “We believe this move will build important interdisciplinary connections, grow relationships with key industry partners and increase our involvement in key state initiatives.”

The Department of Computer Science is nationally recognized for its excellence in teaching and research and has been leading North Dakota’s efforts in cybersecurity. In April, the department was named as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

"It's exciting to be at the forefront of cybersecurity education and research. It's an area of tremendous need in terms of workforce development. There is a great need for cybersecurity programs,” said department chair Kendall E. Nygard. “I am pleased that our offerings provide valuable opportunities for student success.”

Faculty in the department are also working on groundbreaking research projects that have the potential to change the world. Professors Jen Li and Jun Kong received a nearly $1 million National Science Foundation grant for artificial intelligence research designed to provide targeted health care for American Indian patients with diabetes. The project is not only developing cutting-edge technology, it’s giving students valuable real-world experience.

“This sort of hands-on knowledge can't easily be taught in textbooks or classes since it requires a real setting where people are doing real work and not just preset exercises with known results. Everything they are learning will be valuable experiences for their future career as researchers or engineers,” Li said.

Besides working to grow collaborations on campus, efforts are underway to welcome computer science alumni to the college, including adding computer science graduates to the College of Engineering Advisory and Advancement Board.

Research News

Research team invents breath test to detect diabetes

NDSU graduate students prepare for their careers by working with top researchers and contributing their ideas and expertise to important projects. One research team, for example, is perfecting a device that could soon become part of everyday life.

Studying North Dakota's unique water resources

Water is a critical issue for North Dakota. Farmers want precipitation and snowpack information; people living along rivers want data on snowmelt and flood potential; and everyone is affected when a drought hits. That's why Xuefeng Chu, ND EPSCoR-funded researcher with the Center for Regional Climate Studies and professor in the NDSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has focused his attention on the unique cold-climate hydrology of North Dakota.

Alumni News

Engineering alumnae featured for Women's History Month

In March, the College of Engineering launched a special project in honor of Women’s History Month. The Alumnae Spotlight webpage features interviews with more than a dozen distinguished female graduates.

College leaders say the goal of the project is to highlight female engineering role models, and encourage more young girls and women to pursue an engineering degree.

“The College of Engineering actively supports efforts to increase the number of female engineering students and professionals,” said Michael Kessler, dean of the College of Engineering. “One of our core values is being proactive about diversity, knowing that we are far better together.”

Read the profiles here.


Promoted to Full Professor

  • Fardad Azarmi, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Benjamin Braaten, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Jacob Glower, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Xinhua Jia, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
  • Samee Khan, Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Juan (Jen) Li, Computer Science
  • Changhui Yan, Computer Science

Promoted to Associate Professor

  • Zhibin Lin, Civil and Environmental Engineering
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