Thomas W. Peterson, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona (www.arizona.edu), has been selected as the new assistant director of the National Science Foundation”s (NSF, www.nsf.gov) Directorate for Engineering. Peterson has served as Arizona”s dean of the engineering college since 1998. He will start at NSF in January 2009.
Peterson was the head of chemical and environmental engineering at Arizona from 1990-98, and led the merger of those two programs. During that time period, his department was home to the first Engineering Research Center in Arizona, supported jointly by NSF and the Semiconductor Research Corporation and focusing on environmentally benign semiconductor manufacturing.
As dean of Arizona”s engineering college, Peterson has initiated or continued the support of a number of collaborative programs between engineering and other colleges on campus. These collaborations include undergraduate programs in optical science and engineering, engineering management and biosystems engineering (with the colleges of Optics, Management and Agriculture, respectively) and graduate programs in biomedical engineering and the management of technology (with Medicine and Management).
Peterson is currently the vice chair of the Engineering Deans Council of the American Society for Engineering Education. He was one of the founding members of the Global Engineering Deans Council and has made global education experiences a high priority for engineering students at Arizona. He came to Arizona as an assistant professor in 1977. He holds three degrees in chemical engineering: a bachelor of science degree from Tufts University; a master of science degree from Arizona; and a doctorate from Caltech.
NSF”s engineering directorate provides support for the nation”s engineering research activities and is oversees the training and development of the United States engineering workforce. With a budget of approximately $640 million, the directorate supports fundamental research, the creation of facilities and tools, broad interdisciplinary collaborations, and, through its centers and Small Business Innovation Research program, aims to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. companies.