David C. Kraft

Professor of Engineering Management
Former Dean of the KU School of Engineering
2005 DESA Recipient
Primary office:


David C. Kraft is professor of Engineering Management and former dean of the KU School of Engineering After earning his doctorate from Ohio State University in 1964, Kraft was hired as an assistant professor at the University of Dayton, and, demonstrating vision and leadership skills, soon became its dean of engineering.

In 1978, Kraft was hired as dean of the KU School of Engineering and vice president and director of KU's Center for Research Inc., positions he held until 1984.

Kraft's highlights at KU include achieving record undergraduate enrollments in engineering, initiating fund-raising efforts to build Spahr Engineering Library and the Aerospace Engineering Hangar, forming the School of Engineering Advisory Board, and establishing the Distinguished Engineering Service Award. Through the KU Center for Research Inc., Kraft created incentive programs for faculty that increased engineering research 200 percent.

Kraft launched two new degree programs as dean, the bachelor's degree in computer engineering and the master's degree in engineering management. Unveiled in 1982, the Engineering Management degree addressed the needs of engineers in the workforce and was popular from the outset. The program stands as the School's largest master's degree program. Kraft served as director of engineering management from 1990 to 1998. Enrollment more than tripled, and Kraft began the School's first distance-learning courses.

As a professional engineer, Kraft played a key role in creating two consulting firms, and he designed and fabricated the first automated cone penetrometer. The U.S. Air Force and NASA used the device to evaluate soil runways for military aircraft and the Space Shuttle.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times