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2008 Engineer of the Year: Dianne Dorland, PE

Dianne Dorland has been Dean of the College of Engineering at Rowan University since July 1, 2000.  The College is the newest engineering school in the Delaware Valley, created through a $100 million endowment from Henry and Betty Rowan in 1992.   Rowan is a natural fit for Dianne’s lifetime focus on integrating engineering practice and education to better prepare students for entry into a rapidly changing and highly competitive global marketplace.  The College and its four engineering programs (chemical, civil and environmental, electrical and computer, and mechanical engineering) offer a highly innovative multidisciplinary project-based learning environment that accepted its first freshman students in 1996. As Dean, Dianne is responsible for academic program management and integrity, student affairs, faculty development, and budget supervision. 

The Engineering Clinic sequence, unique in the Delaware valley, is the hallmark of Rowan Engineering.  The Clinics, a required eight-semester course sequence, begin in the freshman year and provide a project-oriented, “hands-on, minds-on” environment through graduation.  Local industry support for sponsored Engineering Clinics at the junior and senior levels is a critical component of the College’s success. Dianne has made major strides in promoting industry-university interactions in the Delaware Valley leading to significant industrial support for the engineering programs.  As a spokesperson for education and industry interaction, Dianne has strengthened the professional base for engineering education locally, nationally, and internationally.  Dianne’s focus has positioned the College for continued success in recruiting, retaining, and graduating engineers who are valued as degreed professionals by employers and graduate schools.

Dianne has successfully brought the outstanding features of Rowan’s engineering educational format to national and international attention.  Under her leadership, the College has been widely recognized for its undergraduate programs. The 2008 Edition of US News & World Reports ranks the College 16th among 172 peer institutions whose highest degree is a Bachelor’s or Master’s.  The four engineering disciplines rank even higher with Chemical 2nd, Civil & Environmental 11th, Electrical & Computer 8th, and Mechanical 9th.

Dianne represents Rowan University on the New Jersey Consortium for Engineering Education, a consortium working to promote science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM) education and to incorporate engineering curriculum standards in secondary education. Her activities impact the preparation of students for higher-education in mathematics, engineering and science, and with her leadership, Rowan University recently became the New Jersey State Affiliate for Project Lead The Way (PLTW), a program to encourage students to pursue engineering and technology careers.  Similarly, Dianne is a role model and an inspiration for young women to pursue professional technical career paths. She was featured in the 2006 book from the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project “Changing Our World.” for her work on mercury abatement in wastewater from the paper industry.

Dianne has earned a number of honors and awards.  Most recently, she was selected as the 2008 ConocoPhillips Lecturer in a series designed to celebrate and stimulate advances in engineering education.  Her numerous accomplishments have been recognized by her alma maters and Dianne was elected to the Academy of Chemical Engineers at West Virginia University and received the Distinguished Alumni award from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Dianne credits her education and early experiences growing up in western South Dakota for her success.  She worked her way through the SD School of Mines and Technology and received her BS and MS in Chemical Engineering in 1969 and 1970, respectively.  She joined Union Carbide Corporation in South Charleston, WV as an R&D engineer working on multi-component vapor-liquid equilibrium.  She married in 1971, and moved to DuPont’s Belle, WV facility in 1972.  As a process engineer at Dupont, she worked in the nylon intermediates area.  A time of rapid growth for the nylon product Qiana©, Dianne was responsible for quality control, process scale-up, and the early national implementation of NPDES monitoring.

Dianne became an Assistant Professor at West Virginia Institute of Technology in 1981 after resigning from DuPont in 1975 and having two children, G. Bradley and Decker Alsop.  She found education a highly rewarding professional path and entered the PhD program at West Virginia University in 1983.  She graduated in 1985 and joined the Department of Energy at Morgantown Energy and Technology Center where her specialty was in-situ coal gasification.

In 1986, Dianne responded to an opportunity to start a new chemical engineering department at the University of Minnesota Duluth.  In 1990 she became Department Chair and focused on establishing industry interactions for the Chemical Engineering program. Dianne developed a heavy emphasis on applied research and targeted practice-oriented opportunities and applied programs.  This focus has resulted in a technical career with significant breadth and depth allowing for numerous contributions to education and the profession.

In Northeastern Minnesota, Dianne worked on projects involving contaminated sediment in the St. Louis River and chaired a technical advisory committee on toxics that contributed to a remedial action plan for the St. Louis watershed during the period from 1988-1992.  She became active in the Central States Water Environment Association, eventually chairing the Industrial Waste Committee in 1997-98.  Dianne also worked extensively with the taconite industry and was appointed to the Governors Task Force on Mining and Minerals in 1995.

Dianne has been a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers since 1969, becoming very active in the early 1990s. She was elected to the Board of Directors in 1998.  Her extensive service to this international organization of 38,000 members culminated with her election to president in 2003.  She continues to be very active, both locally in the Delaware Valley Section and nationally, where she is currently working on numerous projects including the AIChE Strategic Planning Steering Committee.

 Dianne is also active in the American Society for Engineering Education and was elected to the Executive Committee of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council in 2006. Dianne is a licensed professional engineer in the State of New Jersey (since 2001) and an NJSPE member. Dianne has also held licenses in Minnesota and West Virginia.