This issue of IIT Magazine focuses on the research activities of our faculty, alumni, and students. I remember my early days as a faculty member when my academic life was focused on teaching and research. I look back fondly on that time when I was able to work with very dedicated and smart students to find the solutions to some tough problems. While our collaborations were meaningful and fruitful, I believe the most gratifying aspect of being a professor was seeing those students become independent thinkers capable of achieving great advances in their chosen thesis topics.
Our own Illinois Tech faculty serve as mentors to our students in programs ranging from undergraduate summer research to Armour College’s R&D experience. This year five junior faculty were recognized with prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Awards for exemplifying “the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration within the context of the mission of their organizations.” This year marks the most winners in the history of our university—four in engineering and one in science:
- Lin Cai, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering
- Lili Du, assistant professor of transportation engineering
- Carrie M. Hall, assistant professor of mechanical, materials, and aerospace engineering
- Ankit Srivastava, assistant professor of mechanical, materials, and aerospace engineering
- Jeff Wereszczynski, assistant professor of physics
Many of our alumni also are both excellent researchers and supporters of innovative research at Illinois Tech. In 2015 students, faculty, and staff were encouraged to submit research proposals to be selected for the Nayar Prize, established by Board of Trustees member Madhavan Nayar (M.S. IE ’68) and his wife, Teresa, on behalf of the Nayar Family Foundation. You can read more about Nayar, the prize, and the three teams that have been selected to participate in the first phase of the prize period beginning on page 10 of the magazine.
In my first six months as president of Illinois Tech, I have been meeting with other alumni in my travels to Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo. We have discussed topics ranging from the future of our university to the successes many of them have achieved. One alumnus credited his Illinois Tech education as being the foundation behind all of his professional accomplishments.
My next alumni gatherings are scheduled in additional cities across the United States and Asia. I look forward to hearing more from our graduates about their interest in advancing our university, their pride in Illinois Tech’s past and present endeavors, and their excitement about the future of our institution.