Skip to main content
Alumni Magazine

From the dean

Jim Pfaendtner

I’m honored to introduce myself to you as the Louis Martin-Vega Dean of your College of Engineering. I joined NC State on Aug. 1 after 14 years as a faculty member and later chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington. You can learn a little more about me in the profile story in the fall/winter 2023 edition of the Engineering Alumni Magazine.

It’s been a whirlwind few months as I’ve met so many people and learned so much about our teaching, research and extension work and its impact on North Carolina. The warm welcome that I have received has confirmed for me that I’m in the right place, and I’m so excited to get to work building on our strengths and addressing our challenges with a goal of making this the best college of engineering it can be.

In introducing myself to our alumni over the past few months, I have been able to share my great love of all things science and technology and my core belief in the potential of an engineering degree for changing the lives of our students and their families. Likewise, I’ve been truly impressed to learn about all the ways our College of Engineering faculty members pursue groundbreaking projects directed at translating new discoveries to tangible real-world solutions to some of our most pressing issues.

I was attracted to NC State Engineering because of the parallel commitments to fulfilling the mission of serving state residents as a public institution alongside a deep dedication to excellence in research and discovery. It’s also an institution that benefits from a tremendous amount of support from state leaders who realize its value as the flagship STEM university in North Carolina.

As we wrap up a yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of our College, those strengths are easy to see: this is one of the preeminent public colleges of engineering in the country with a strong interdisciplinary research program in one of the premier places to live in the United States.

The College is growing its enrollment by 4,000 students and adding more than 100 new faculty positions, thanks to legislative support through the Engineering North Carolina’s Future initiative. We received great news in the most recent biannual North Carolina budget, with a commitment to recurring funding to support our growth. That means help with faculty and staff hiring, but also money for physical growth, including for building renovations and for a new engineering building on Centennial Campus.

We also received outstanding news this fall from the Department of Defense, which awarded NC State $39.4 million to serve as the leader of a regional innovation hub in wide bandgap semiconductors. The regional hub, Commercial Leap Ahead for Wide Bandgap Semiconductors, or CLAWS, also includes North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, as well as six industry partners.

That growth is also one of our challenges, as we try to quickly build up the infrastructure needed to accommodate more students while still offering the same great experience to all. We are also still working through the long tail of impact that Covid has had on our students and continue to innovate in our classrooms to meet students where they are at and prepare them for success.

Moving forward, I am looking for ways to engage with our alumni community. I hope that you will reach out to me or others within the College to learn how you can stay involved and help us strengthen the Pack.

Jim Pfaendtner signature in black cursive handwriting.

Jim Pfaendtner, Ph.D.
Louis Martin-Vega Dean of Engineering