FOCUSON:Alan Cramb: Dean of Engineering
Alan Cramb, the new dean of engineering, is a man of steel. Not as the bulging-muscled Superman who could bend the metal with his bare hands, but as a leader and technological pioneer in the iron and steel industry for more than two decades.
Cramb, whose career spans industry and academia, is a distinguished researcher who specializes in the development of steel processes that are environmentally friendly what he calls “eco-processing” in the effort to reduce energy consumption worldwide.
“Obviously, there is a natural focus on the development of new materials due to their great potential. But there are tremendous advances that can be made by further development of materials currently used by humanity. The two most widely used manufactured materials are steel and concrete,” he says. “If we can simplify the processing of those basic building materials, then we can make a major change in the total energy used by the world and at the same time reduce CO2 produced by these processes.”
As the new dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering, his immediate goal is to increase the number of faculty members to 175 from 142.
“The School of Engineering is among the best in the country, and this is reflected in national college guide rankings,” Cramb adds. “For us to remain competitive and a top engineering school, it is essential to hire outstanding faculty at both the junior and senior levels.”
The 2006 U.S.News & World Report guide to “America’s Best Undergraduate Schools,” published in August, ranked Rensselaer’s undergraduate engineering program 18th in the nation. Four of the undergraduate engineering specialty programs are also ranked in the top 20: materials engineering (15th), electrical engineering (16th), biomedical engineering (19th), and mechanical engineering (19th); computer and systems engineering is ranked 21st.
Under his leadership, two major areas the school will continue to bolster are biotechnology and information technology. The school also will have a strong focus on nanotechnology and new energy technologies, Cramb says.
Born and raised in Scotland, Cramb earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow in 1975.
He received his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979.
Cramb worked as a research engineer for the former Bethlehem Steel company’s Pennsylvania-based research laboratories, where he launched his 20-plus years of pioneering research in continuous and direct casting, the process of turning liquid steel directly into the solid steel product.
The direct casting process is now in the early stages of commercialization in the United States and Cramb expects it to reduce energy consumption, as well as improving yield, productivity, and quality.
After seven years at Bethlehem Steel, Cramb joined Carnegie Mellon University in 1986 and became the co-director of the university’s Center for Iron and Steelmaking in 1990. In 2000, he became head of the Materials Science and Engineering Department.
Cramb, who also has been appointed the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering, joined Rensselaer on July 1.
“We are extremely excited about having Alan Cramb join us here at Rensselaer,” says Institute Provost G.P. “Bud” Peterson.
“His outstanding achievements as a scholar, particularly with his expertise in the field of materials science, one of our key thrust areas, coupled with his administrative experiences make him well qualified to lead the School of Engineering.”
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