College of Engineering and Applied Science dean finalist: Donald Peterson

On Feb. 5, Donald Peterson presented his three goals for the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Peterson served as the dean of the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Northern Illinois University from 2017-2023. He is the last of three finalists to present as UCCS searches for a new dean for the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

While Peterson laid out a blueprint for what the college could look like if he is selected, he said it was not concrete. “I’m just giving you an idea [of] some of the thought process, because in reality, what has to happen for the college to succeed and to make a real, deep impact — it has to be a consensus approach,” he said.

Donald Peterson. Photo via Northern Illinois University.

Peterson’s first goal is to create revolutionary solutions to engineering and applied science challenges that will benefit industry and society. He plans to do this through leveraging the potential success of grant proposals.

“You should be bringing in extramural funding directors from these [grant] agencies … to see what you’re doing firsthand and to put the question to them; ‘Tell us where we’re missing and what we could bring to the table,’” he said.

Peterson said that prioritizing research and innovation will help achieve this goal. “Through world-class research, innovative teaching [and] application of new knowledge, you yourself are asking your students to finish here and go out and be proactive in being lifelong learners, solving whatever engineering challenges are coming your way,” he said.

Peterson’s second goal is to create an educational, research and translational environment that emphasizes transformational learning by improving the prestige of the college. This means talking about the college’s successes and failures.

Peterson thinks people want to know what students have done and the challenges they’ve had.

To help students become better entrepreneurs, he wants to create a program that patents senior designs, noting that 68% of them are patentable.

“There’s a lot of money that could be made through patenting or helping students partner with university, even though they own that intellectual property,” he said.

On top of encouraging entrepreneurship, Peterson thinks this could help fund the university because it would get a share of the profits for helping get patents and create businesses.

The third goal Peterson has for the College of Engineering and Applied Science is to educate and create extraordinarily well-prepared students. He sees opportunities to collaborate with other departments in the university as well as key industries in Colorado that can help students take the next step after graduation.

People in the campus community can give their feedback on Patterson by filling out a survey.

Information on the previous dean finalist can be found here.

Engineering and Applied Science building. Photo via UCCS Photography Database.