Riley prepared to steer as dean of College of Engineering

Donna Riley, a acknowledged chief in engineering training and the introduction of various viewpoints to engineering, will start April 1 because the Jim and Ellen King Dean of Engineering and Computing on the College of New Mexico.

It is the twenty secondn.d — and first lady — dean of the College of Engineering, based in 1906. She additionally holds the rank of professor in UNM’s Division of Civil, Development and Environmental Engineering.

She joins UNM from Purdue College, the place she was head and Kamyar Haghighi Professor within the College of Engineering Training since 2017. She was beforehand professor and interim head of the Division of Engineering Training at Virginia Tech and from 2013-2015 served as program director for engineering training on the Nationwide Science Basis (NSF).

Riley spent 13 years as a founding college member of the Picker Engineering Program at Smith School, the primary US ladies’s faculty engineering program. He’s a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Training (ASEE) and was just lately elected vp of scholarships for ASEE, a two-year time period that begins on the ASEE 2023 Convention and Exposition in Baltimore in June.

Riley’s analysis focuses on the sphere of engineering training, notably the mixing of ethics, communication, social evaluation, lifelong studying and the way these expertise assist form engineering professionals. He’s the writer of two books, Engineering and Social Justice and Engineering Thermodynamics and Vitality Issues of the twenty first Century. He’s the recipient of the 2016 Alfred N. Goldsmith Award from the IEEE Skilled Communications Society, the 2012 Sterling Olmsted Award from ASEE, and the 2010 Educator of the 12 months Award from Out to Innovate.

Whereas at Smith, he acquired the 2005 NSF CAREER Award for “Liberating Pedagogies in Engineering Training.” The award is NSF’s most prestigious award in help of early-career college who exemplify the position of scholar-scholars by excellent analysis, excellent instructing, and the mixing of training and analysis.

For early profession college, particularly these seeking to advance their analysis and educational administration careers, the NSF CAREER Award is a extremely sought-after credential, and Riley was naturally fascinated about pursuing the award. Nevertheless, due to her preliminary educational pursuits in interdisciplinary approaches to environmental justice, she was disheartened to be taught that her subject was sandwiched between two funding directorates on the Nationwide Science Basis.

“I used to be informed that I might by no means win a CAREER Award as a result of my analysis didn’t match into one of many pre-defined classes. I used to be informed to not apply. They crushed me.”

However because of her connections with some mentors and engineering training professionals, she was inspired to pursue an award after studying there was a brand new engineering training class. Riley constructed on modern approaches to instructing engineering that she had explored in Smith’s new engineering program, drawing inspiration and encouragement from the authors bell hooks, with whom she had a dialog throughout considered one of Hooks’ visits to Smith. Riley mentioned Hookes e-book, Instructing to Transgress: Training because the Observe of Freedomit had a profound impact on her and he or she shared a few of her concepts that sparked the e-book with the writer.

When she informed hooks her ideas on what finally turned the topic of her CAREER Award — creating crucial pedagogies for functions within the engineering classroom — the pioneering author and educational gave her the validation that helped her succeed.

He mentioned, “You need to write about it.” And so I did, and it turned my NSF CAREER Award mission,” Riley mentioned. “It was a little bit of an uncommon expertise that led me to win the award.”

Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles, and it was really town’s legendary smog that sparked her curiosity in engineering and environmental considerations. Her father was a first-generation faculty graduate, incomes a level in chemical engineering from what’s now Missouri S&T and pursuing a profession within the oil and fuel trade.

Taking his recommendation, he additionally pursued chemical engineering, incomes a level from Princeton College. Captivated with environmental science and the methods during which engineering and coverage intersect, she earned her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon College in engineering and public coverage.

At all times interested in fields exterior of engineering, Riley loved taking varied programs within the social sciences and never solely discovered the subject material attention-grabbing, but additionally the instructing strategies. He seen a marked distinction in the best way a literature course was offered that centered on concepts and questions and dialogue in comparison with a typical engineering course, which is usually offered in a one-way lecture type.

“I saved considering, ‘How can I educate extra like they do within the social sciences?’ “That is actually what obtained me within the area of engineering training.”

Though being dean is a brand new position for Riley, she mentioned she and her fellow assistant professors at Smith started getting ready early, connecting with a community of feminine lecturers and engineering deans who’ve served as mentors over time.

Though as a girl in engineering she is used to being one of many solely ladies in a room (she was the one feminine division head within the School of Engineering at Purdue), stepping in as the primary feminine dean of UNM Engineering will probably be a brand new milestone: ” This would be the first time I have been first.”

One of many issues she appreciated about UNM was that the college is open to vary and new concepts, and that is no completely different within the historically male area of engineering.

“A variety of the college’s leaders are ladies — together with some engineers — so I believe UNM is prepared for that,” she mentioned. “It is actually thrilling.”

Riley and her husband are wanting ahead to experiencing some issues she would not have the ability to expertise within the Midwest: New Mexican tradition and studying about stripping. She additionally enjoys climbing, working, artwork, meals (“she cooks and eats”) and crafts, particularly knitting.

As dean, she is able to hit the bottom working within the coming weeks with a listening tour to assemble details about the College of Engineering’s successes, alternatives, challenges and extra. She’s going to then synthesize this suggestions right into a complete plan that may information her priorities for the College.

She’s going to refine her priorities over the approaching months, however two areas she desires to give attention to are creating and creating partnerships for analysis, financial improvement and inclusive training and excellence, together with how we are able to personal the truth that we’re each a Hispanic Serving Establishment and an R1 Establishment the place efficient analysis is essential.

UNM’s 2040 targets can even be entrance and middle.

“UNM 2040 was one of many issues that excited me about UNM,” he mentioned. “There may be readability of function and imaginative and prescient, with an emphasis on how you can use discovery, studying and engagement to enhance lives whereas leveraging inclusive excellence.”

Whereas he expects some new focuses, he mentioned the College of Engineering’s imaginative and prescient will seemingly have many acquainted elements to it.

“I imagine in not fixing what is not damaged,” he mentioned. “I sit up for the problem of bringing collectively various views from varied teams, each inside and exterior, to information us towards a typical objective.”

Continued emphasis on constructing UNM and the College of Engineering as a pacesetter will undoubtedly be a precedence for Riley.

“We’ve got to remind ourselves why we’re right here. We’re right here for the scholars and for the individuals of New Mexico, to enhance lives and additional financial development,” he mentioned. “We have to have a greater ready workforce. This must be a collaborative effort, and with UNM because the state’s flagship establishment, our position is to take the lead.”

Media contact: Kim Delker, Director of Advertising and marketing, UNM College of Engineering, (765) 427-0300,

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