Wednesday May 28, 2014

Engineering the Future

Eddy Rojas, new dean of the School of Engineering, is committed to graduating engineers with a higher calling.

Eddy Rojas, director of the Charles W. Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been named dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Dayton following a national search.

Rojas succeeds Tony Saliba, who announced in January that he planned to return to teaching on July 1 at the completion of his five-year term.

"Dr. Rojas is personable, approachable and energetic with a collaborative leadership style and a passion for Catholic higher education," said Daniel J. Curran, president. "He's committed to innovation. During his tenure at Durham, he increased research funding by 25 percent and boosted the school's endowment by $6 million. More importantly, he values the education of the whole person."

Rojas brings a background in administration, teaching and research to the University of Dayton. His research in areas such as modeling, simulation, visualization and construction economics has been funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of Education and appeared in more than 80 journals and other publications.

"I was attracted to the University of Dayton because my personal values align with the values of the institution. It was the right fit," Rojas said.

At the Durham School, he developed a comprehensive strategic plan, created an industry fellows program, oversaw the re-accreditation of three programs, renovated facilities and established exchange agreements with universities in Australia, Great Britain and Spain. He's proud of the school's Rebuilding Haiti initiative, a partnership between the Durham School and the Knights of Columbus, to design and build a new elementary school in Haiti.

"Rebuilding Haiti was born out of the realization that our school possesses special talents and resources that could make a difference in the lives of many Haitians, and that we had a moral obligation to act as responsible global members of the academic community," he said.

Rojas said he's committed to "engineering that matters" — engineering with a higher purpose. "It's not about just educating competent engineers but engineers who are going to be innovative, have an entrepreneurial spirit, enjoy social and global awareness, and can become leaders in their communities."

Born and raised in Costa Rica, Rojas was the first in his family to go to college. "I recognize that I have been blessed in so many ways," he said. "I will do my best every single day to honor my faith, to give back, to make a difference."

Director of the Durham School since 2010, Rojas also has served as executive director at the Pacific Northwest Center for Construction Research and Education and graduate program coordinator at the University of Washington.  He also served as graduate program coordinator for construction engineering and management in the civil, structural and environmental engineering department at the University at Buffalo (SUNY).

Rojas holds a licentiate in civil engineering (five-year professional degree) from the University of Costa Rica and three degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder — M.S. in civil engineering, M.A. in economics and Ph.D. in civil engineering. He holds a Professional Engineer (PE) license from the state of Michigan.  

He's received a number of honors and awards, including the 2011 Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers and several faculty awards for research, scholarship and service from the University of Washington.

The University of Dayton, which leads all Catholic universities in sponsored engineering research, enrolls 2,600 engineering students.

Teri Rizvi, executive director of communication strategies, at 937-229-3255.