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Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Incoming dean praises KU engineering school

May 9, 2013

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The choice to come lead the Kansas University School of Engineering wasn’t a tough one, Michael Branicky said Thursday. And he should know.

Kansas University has named Michael Branicky as the new dean of the School of Engineering. Branicky, who teaches and chairs the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, will officially take over as dean on July 1. Branicky was touring the KU campus and meeting with faculty Thursday, May 9, 2013.

Kansas University has named Michael Branicky as the new dean of the School of Engineering. Branicky, who teaches and chairs the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, will officially take over as dean on July 1. Branicky was touring the KU campus and meeting with faculty Thursday, May 9, 2013.

“In my field, there’s things called decision trees that enable you to figure out exactly what’s the best thing to do at any time. In this case, it was a very easy decision,” said Branicky, a specialist in robotics and control systems who will become KU’s new engineering dean July 1.

Branicky, a professor and department chairman at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, on Thursday made his first appearance at KU since he was announced as the next engineering dean in February. He spoke briefly at an annual School of Engineering banquet to honor distinguished alumni, where he received a “great big Kansas welcome” from the 150 or so alumni, current and retired faculty and others present at the direction of interim Dean Stan Rolfe.

Branicky told them his choice to come to KU was a no-brainer, considering the state of the school, which is expanding rapidly in the areas of facilities, faculty and students.

“Our program here is not just growing,” Branicky said. “It is thriving.” He showed he’s already learned a way to enliven a room at KU — with a “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” call and response — though he won’t officially take over for about two more months.

That’s when Rolfe, a faculty member in the school for 43 years, will step back down after a year overseeing the school. Rolfe had actually begun a phased retirement before he was approached to lead the school as KU searched to replace Stuart Bell, who left to become provost at Louisiana State University.

“It wasn’t what I figured on in retirement,” Rolfe said with a laugh earlier this week.

And this wasn’t just any year for the engineering school. Rolfe has overseen the opening of a new $23.6 million research building, the groundbreaking for another $80 million education building, 16 faculty position searches and a once-every-six-years national accreditation review, all as the school grows its enrollment and faculty with orders from the state to produce more engineers.

The experience of leading the school during such a busy time, when he’d expected to start winding his career down, was a bit like his daily morning jog, he said.

“There’s not much joy while I’m jogging,” Rolfe said, “but there’s a great deal of satisfaction when I’m done.”

Now Rolfe will resume his plan to phase out his research and teaching, with an eye on retiring fully in the next year or two. And he believes Branicky, who’s already in constant contact with the school’s other leaders, will move things forward.

“As far as the goals and directions, I think Michael will not only take those but actually improve those,” Rolfe said.

Don Green, a distinguished professor emeritus in attendance at Thursday’s banquet, agreed. Everyone he’d spoken with who’d interacted with Branicky so far had come away impressed, he said.

“Everything I’ve heard about him is very, very positive,” Green said.

At the banquet Thursday, Branicky and Rolfe helped recognize three KU engineering alumni with the school’s Distinguished Engineering Service Award: Harold Finch, a former Apollo space program engineer, leader at Johnson County Community College and philanthropist whose life is the basis for a to-be-released film starring former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson; Tom Jones, a former executive for two medical-device companies; and Jim Remsberg, a petroleum engineering executive.

Comments

toe 11 months, 1 week ago

Only a smaller population will work. Support hard work. Something that makes humans scarce.

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Les Blevins 11 months, 1 week ago

Please forgive me for saying so but my goal is to enabling community scale conversion and utilization of most locally available biomass resources, including municipal wastes and coal in distributed power generation and biofuels production. Somewhat like a multi-function food processor, my invention is in reality a multi-fuel and multi-process capable fuels processor. The AAEC Sequential Grates fuels conversion technology is similar in concept in that its users (homes, towns and cities) can get widely varying results depending on exactly what fuels are being processed and what fuel conversion or processing option button is chosen. Like a food processor or blender; the AAEC Sequential Grates ™ fuels processing technology has an opening at the top and several operational choices for selecting the desired fuels conversion process and end products. Available fuel conversion processes run from the choice of clean coal use via gasification at one end of the scale to advanced thermal biomass and waste conversion modes at the other end. End products available are cleaner heat power, chemicals and biofuels. Les Blevins believes the best way for creating jobs and keeping the cost of oil in line; and keeping a lid on carbon emissions; may be for us to begin making more of our heat, power and transportation fuels is by using our own locally abundant biomass resources along with coal in our own localized clean energy conversion systems like AAEC’s advanced Sequential Grates ™ system. Les Blevins President & CEO Advanced Alternative Energy Corp. 1207 N 1800 Rd., Lawrence, KS 66049 Tel: (001) 7858421943 Fax: (001) 7858420909 LBlevins@aaecorp.com http://aaecorp.com http://aaecorp.com/ceo.html http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=hb_tab_pro_top http://www.lawrencerecycles.org/pdf/Les%20Blevins%20Handouts.pdf https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=25bmXpEPosc#t=0s

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Les Blevins 11 months, 1 week ago

Kansas faces dangers from rising CO2 Say KU Scientists We can expect more heat, more intense storms and more drought, say KU scientists in climate change report

By Scott Rothschild November 11, 2008

Higher temperatures, more intense storms and increased drought will plague Kansas this century because of rising carbon dioxide emissions, according to a study by Kansas University scientists that was released Tuesday.

The study details numerous dangers posed by climate change and should serve as a warning and prompt new policies that reduce CO2 emissions, the scientists said. “What’s important to remember — these are projections,” said Johannes Feddema, a geography professor who is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The study by Feddema and KU’s Nathaniel Brunsell, also a geography professor, was done for the Salina-based Land Institute’s Climate and Energy Project. By 2100, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as projected, temperatures in Kansas will rise an average of 2 degrees to 4 degrees, the study said. Southwest Kansas could see an increase of 8 degrees. By 2060, winter temperatures will stay mostly above freezing. That means more insects, diseases, and the need for farmers to increase the use of costly pesticides, the scientists concluded. Higher summertime temperatures will also hurt crops and livestock and increase the need for irrigation. Climate change will also cause more extreme weather patterns, including intense rain and flooding, but because of higher temperatures, soil moisture will decrease, and that means more intense drought. “What hurts Kansas also hurts the nation,” the report said. “Climate change will increase stress on America’s breadbasket, risking our food security.” An earlier study by the National Council of State Legislatures estimated that climate change could cost Kansas $1 billion per year. The report recommends that Kansas embrace renewable energy, focusing on wind, biomass and solar. Not only will this help the environment but it will also play into Kansas’ economic hand, the report said. “When people talk about climate change, too often they ignore the costs of not dealing with it. They also ignore the economic opportunities for Kansas in shifting to a clean energy economy,” said Nancy Jackson, executive director of the Climate and Energy Project.

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Les Blevins 11 months, 1 week ago

Hopefully Dean Branicky possesses the proper skill set and will be able to introduce KU's research thinking to the important opportunity that lies ahead for KU to address humanity’s urgent need for innovative new concept climate management technology in time to prevent a looming global catastrophe.

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