In recognition of significant achievements and contributions to their fields, several College of Engineering faculty were formally celebrated for their installations as endowed chairs. During the ceremony, held last week on campus, Dean Sharon Walker, PhD, noted that while the honors had been bestowed to each faculty member, due to the pandemic their prior acknowledgement was virtual.
"I am so pleased we can come together today to recognize each of these outstanding faculty members, who are are enabling us to raise Drexel Engineering’s visibility and impact in their respective specialized disciplines,” said Dean Walker. “I am so pleased, too, that these endowed gifts – the Colehower Chair, the Eisenstein Chair, the Francis Chair and the Hess Chair – align so well with our strategic planning efforts in the college. Such significant support is an essential component in helping us advance as a collaborative academic research institution, and I am deeply grateful to our donors and friends for their commitment to our faculty and our college."
Kapil R. Dandekar, PhD, was recognized as the recipient of the E. Warren Colehower Chair, a distinction he earned on March 1, 2020. The chair is named in honor of Colehower, a 1939 alumnus of the Drexel School of Engineering, who bequeathed a gift to Drexel designated to support a Chairholder in any department or discipline at the College dedicated to the furthering of the rational education of anyone who has a conscientious desire to improve him or herself so that they may contribute in their small way to the betterment of mankind. Colehower began his career at the Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River and went on to work on the famed Martin Marauder B-26 bomber and was involved in the space program during its early days. He retired from Martin Marietta Corp in 1967.
Dandekar, a professor in electrical and computer engineering, is director of the Drexel Wireless Systems Laboratory and associate dean for research and graduate studies. His research interests and publications involve wireless, ultrasonic, and optical communications, reconfigurable antennas, and smart textiles. His work has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Army Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center, National Security Agency, Office of Naval Research, and private industry. Dandekar is a past member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Educational Activities Board, co-founder of the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS-in-IEEE) program, and a recent inductee into theAmerican Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows.
David Han, PhD, was recognized as the inaugural holder of the Bruce Eisenstein Endowed Chair, a position he has held since joining Drexel just prior to the Fall 2020 term. The chair was established by an anonymous alumnus and is supported by other former students to honor Bruce Eisenstein, the Arthur J. Rowland Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. A revered and longtime Drexel faculty member and alumnus (MSEE ’65), Eisenstein also served as department head, associate dean and interim dean of the College.
Han, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and an IEEE senior member. He has previously held positions as a research and faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Army Research Laboratory, and the University of Maryland at College Park, and has additionally served as Distinguished IWS Chair Professor at the US Naval Academy. He spent over 11 years as a program officer at the Office of Naval Research and served as its Deputy Director of Research, overseeing the Discovery and Invention portfolio of over $900 million from 2012 to 2014. He also served as Associate Director for Basic Research in Machine Intelligence and Robotics in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Research & Engineering from 2014 to 2016, helping to oversee an over $2 billion annual research portfolio. Han has authored or coauthored over 100 peer-reviewed papers, including four book chapters. He currently leads Drexel’s Intelligent Machine Perception and Learning Laboratory.
Vibha Kalra, PhD, was installed as the George B. Francis Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering. The professorship was established by its namesake in 1992, with the aim of providing annual support of a faculty member selected to hold the Francis Professorship. While this honor is not associated with any particular field within engineering, the College has traditionally awarded it in Chemical and Biological Engineering to enhance inclusion across departments.
Prior to joining Drexel in the Fall of 2010, Kalra worked in the electronic packaging research division at Intel Corporation. Her research group combines material assembly & characterization, study of fundamental electrochemical behavior, in-situ spectroelectrochemistry, and device assembly and testing to develop next-generation batteries and supercapacitors. She has published close to 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and has 10 pending/issued patents in the field of energy storage. Kalra is a recipient of several awards including the NSF CAREER award (2012), ONR summer faculty fellowship (2013), AIChE DVS Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award (2015) and the Provost Award for Outstanding Mid-Career Research Achievement (2020).
David Miller, PhD, was installed as the Hess Endowed Professorship Chair of Combustion. The chair is named for Frederic O. Hess ’62 and is designated in part in recognition of an eminently qualified person in the area of combustion. Hess’ endowment also supports research initiatives with undergraduates as part of the Hess Undergraduate Research program in Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics.
Since joining Drexel in 1985, Miller’s research has focused on combustion chemistry. He has investigated problems of fundamental chemical kinetics, engine combustion problems such as knock and cold start, hazardous waste incineration, municipal waste incineration, and novel combustion systems for incineration applications. He has participated in the development of two engine research facilities, a flow reactor facility to study reactions at elevated pressures, a flat flame reactor facility to study hydrocarbon oxidation in flame environments, and in-situ diagnostics for measurement of species concentration using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometry and non-linear laser spectroscopy.