The UNLV Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost announced today that Rama Venkat, interim dean of UNLV's Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, has accepted an offer to permanently lead the college.
Venkat was named interim dean of the College of Engineering in 2010, and he has been a faculty member in electrical and computer engineering at UNLV since 1989.
"The College of Engineering has made tremendous strides under Rama's leadership as interim dean," said John Valery White, UNLV executive vice president and provost. "He expanded experiential learning opportunities for students and created a culture of entrepreneurism among faculty and students that has strengthened UNLV's partnership in the state's economic development push. Continued growth in engineering education and research is crucial to the university's Tier 1 vision, and Rama is the person to help get us there."
Student enrollment and faculty research productivity in engineering are on the rise, and the college recently partnered on Nevada's successful selection as an FAA-designated site for testing, research, and development of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Engineering faculty are engaged in federally funded research projects and industry collaboration in this area, and the college is developing a minor in UAS with plans to launch this fall.
In 1999, Venkat developed the college's bi-annual Fred and Harriet Cox Senior Design Competition, a rite of passage for aspiring engineers and the culminating project for undergraduates at UNLV. The program has grown to include a partnership with UNLV's Lee Business School, where engineering and business students create business plans to explore the commercial potential of student inventions.
He also played a role in the development of the Mendenhall Innovation Program, which introduces engineering students to entrepreneurial aspects of research, product development and commercial application.
Under Venkat's leadership, engineering students and faculty partnered with the School of Architecture and finished first in the U.S. and second overall in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 for their design of a net-zero energy home, DesertSol.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to lead the College of Engineering on its rise toward top-tier status," Venkat said. "I've dedicated the past 25 years of my career to UNLV as a faculty member, teacher, researcher and administrator, and I'm proud to be at the helm of a college that plays such an integral role in both the educational and economic development aspirations of our university and community."
An active researcher in the area of energy efficient display technologies, Venkat examines ways to use sunlight to reduce energy costs. He has authored or co-authored dozens of referred journal publications, supervised and graduated nearly 30 graduate students, won a variety of teaching awards, and brought in more than $2 million in research funds.
Venkat received his B.Tech. in Metallurgical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1983. He earned an M.S. in Metallurgical Engineering and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University.