LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Engineering saw significant gains in the 2013 edition of U.S. News & World Report's rankings of best undergraduate engineering programs.
KU's engineering program ascended to 36th among public institutions that offer doctoral degrees in engineering. Overall, the school ranks 64th among all institutions, up 12 points. It's the highest ranking of any engineering program in Kansas.
"This ranking is validation of the caliber of KU's engineering and computing programs and reinforces the wisdom of the state's ongoing investment in engineering programs," said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. "The university is committed to educating additional talented engineers to help drive innovation and create prosperity."
Students, faculty and staff in the engineering school have logged numerous achievements and milestones, especially in recent years.
"This upswing in rankings is a sign that major advances taking place at the school are being noticed across the country," said Interim Dean of Engineering Stan Rolfe.
The school has seen substantial growth in undergraduate enrollment, which last year rose to a 29-year high. Students in engineering and computing also continue to win accolades on the national and international levels. Notably, this spring Jayhawk Motorsports, a team of engineering students that designs, builds and races formula-style cars, won the Formula SAE Lincoln competition and earned top electric vehicle honors for the team's E-Car at the Formula Hybrid competition. Both events draw student teams from all over the world. In May, two juniors and three graduating seniors were among a select group of students nationwide to be honored by Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society.
Physical expansion at the school also is drawing positive attention. A new 47,000-square-foot research facility that advances discovery in infrastructure and environmentally focused engineering opened at the start of the fall semester. The Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center will be formally dedicated Oct. 12. Later in October, the school is set to break ground on a more than 125,000-square-foot student-focused expansion. This additional structure will provide more teaching laboratories, classrooms and project design space that will address growing enrollment and provide students with further hands-on experience.
Moreover, professors continue to be honored by peers for contributions to their fields. KU is the only program in Kansas with faculty in the National Academy of Engineering. Examples of faculty accolades include Distinguished Professor David Darwin being named a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and selected as an Inaugural Fellow in the Structural Engineering Institute. Assistant Professor Belinda Sturm was named winner of a 2012 Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award from the Academy of Environmental Engineers for her research to use algae to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater while at the same time creating biomass that can be turned into fuel.
"We're pleased to see the national audience of our peers is finally beginning to recognize the quality of our students and the work we've been doing for quite some time," Rolfe said.