J. Iwan Alexander, Ph.D., will become the dean of the UAB School of Engineering effective Aug. 1, 2013, according to University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Provost Linda Lucas.
Alexander comes to UAB from Case Western Reserve University, where he is the Cady Staley Professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He joined Case Western in 1998 as an associate professor and previously held positions at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Carnegie Mellon University.
Alexander replaces Linda Lucas, Ph.D., who served as the school’s dean from 2000-11, until she was named interim provost and then ultimately, in 2012, provost of UAB. Melinda Lalor, Ph.D., had served as interim dean. Alexander will be the sixth dean in the history of the School of Engineering.
“We knew we wanted someone with the proven ability to succeed tremendously in research and development, and we found that leader in Alexander,” said Lucas. “As former dean, I am proud to say the School of Engineering, with the 3D VisCube, development of tornado shelter panels, the recent hire of automotive safety leader Dean Sicking and more, is rapidly developing new technologies, and Alexander has the knowledge and the involvement to achieve even more with the school’s innovative discoveries. His diverse background will make a broad, positive impact on the next generation of engineering faculty and students for years to come.”
In 1971, the School of Engineering was established as one of the first four schools in UAB’s new University College. Today it houses five departments: Biomedical; Civil, Construction and Environmental; Electrical and Computer; Materials Science; and Mechanical. In addition to his administrative duties, Alexander will draw on his past experience with large multi-faceted collaborative research projects, and work with engineering faculty to build on current strengths, anticipate new directions and increase the School of Engineering’s visibility and impact in the research community.
In 2007, Alexander led the creation of the Great Lakes Energy Institute (GLEI) at Case Western. The institute, which involves 75 faculty members from three schools and colleges, works to provide low-cost, reliable and sustainable energy solutions. The GLEI is now well-established, with significant research activities in energy storage, electrical grid, and renewable power. Alexander brings to UAB more than 20 years of experience managing and coordinating multi-million dollar projects.
“UAB has emerging areas of opportunity across schools and departments where, together, we can shape a new face for engineering education and provide a foundation for a sustainable and relevant approach that meets the challenges our students will face in the future,” said Alexander.
Alexander earned his doctoral degree in geology at Washington State University in 1981. He received his bachelor’s degree in geology and oceanography at University College Swansea, Wales, U.K., in 1977, and he was an International Baccalaureate student at the United World College of the Atlantic, Wales, U.K., from 1972-1974.
He is the chair of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Water Technology Committee and an American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) associate fellow. Alexander served as director of the National Center for Space Exploration Research (NCSER) from 2005-10. He was awarded NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Medal in 2008.