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Bhattacharyya Will Lead Engineering and Computer Science

JONESBORO – A leader in the state in the cutting-edge areas of smart materials and thin films, Dr. Abhijit Bhattacharyya, has accepted the appointment as the inaugural dean for the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Arkansas State University.

Chancellor Kelly Damphousse announced Bhattacharyya’s appointment, Wednesday, Feb. 13, which will take effect at the start of the new fiscal year, July 1, 2019.

For the past two and a half years, Bhattacharyya has served as the interim vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock). Bhattacharyya has also managed the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, the Office of Research Compliance, the TechLaunch Office, and the Machine and Electronics Shop of UA Little Rock. The Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences and the Emerging Analytics Center come under his purview as well.

The appointment of Bhattacharyya is the first for the newly reorganized college at A-State. Previously, Arkansas State had a College of Engineering composed of its three engineering specialty areas. This past year, Chancellor Damphousse oversaw the combination of the three ABET-accredited engineering programs with the university’s Department of Computer Science to create the new college.

“For the past 18 months, I have met with many industry leaders in Northeast Arkansas,” Damphousse said. “They need more A-State engineering graduates and we are committed to meeting that need. Creating the College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2018 was an important first step. Hiring someone with Dr. Bhattacharyya’s impeccable record as our inaugural dean of the new college was the logical next step. We are now poised to meet the pressing need of industry and manufacturers in the upper Delta. I am excited to serve alongside Abhijit in the coming years.”

“I consider it a very humbling moment and an incredible privilege to begin my service at A-State as the inaugural dean of the newly minted College of Engineering and Computer Science,” Bhattacharyya said. “The passion and dedication of the outstanding faculty and staff of the college towards the student learning experience and student success came through loud and clear during my visit to Jonesboro. Meeting with a cross-section of the students in the college was a truly energizing experience. We will take full advantage of the birth of the new college at a time when manufacturing and industrial activity in the upper Delta region are on a growth streak. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the college and its champions – the entire A-State community as well as external community members including industry leaders – to deliver on the workforce needs and add to the economic vitality of Jonesboro and the upper Delta region. Above all, I am truly indebted to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where I spent a wonderful 18 years and my new institution, Arkansas State University, for allowing me to be part of the beautiful Natural State’s journey into the future.”

Bhattacharyya’s areas of research specialty are the emerging fields of smart materials and thin films, with numerous journal articles and peer-reviewed conference papers in the field. He has received national-level funding for projects, including NASA, DARPA and NSF-EPSCOR. His research also includes work in composite materials, shape memory alloys, piezoelectric materials, thin films, microfluidics and hydrogen storage.

Prior to stepping into the position of interim vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, he served as associate dean and was interim dean for engineering at UA Little Rock in early 2015.

“Throughout the process, Dr. Bhattacharyya’s research set him apart academically,” A-State Provost Lynita Cooksey said, “but from the point of view of the provost, it also was his proven skill in working with other programs and even other universities to establish collaborative relationships that made him our strongest candidate to become dean. I think his experience working with both UA Little Rock’s graduate school and the research and technology transfer offices there makes him an exceptional ally for the professionals we have here on campus. I’m excited about the potential future collaborations with other academic programs and with the wider professional engineering and computer science community in our region he can facilitate.”

Joining UA Little Rock as an associate professor in January 2002, Bhattacharyya was promoted to full professor in July 2006, and also became the graduate coordinator of the applied science doctoral program at UA Little Rock. He played an important role in the administration of a joint graduate program between UA Little Rock and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in bioinformatics and served as UALR’s representative to the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority’s Science Advisory Committee. Currently, he serves as UA Little Rock’s representative on the Science Advisory Committee of the Science and Technology Division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.

Among his internal administrative assignments for UALR, Bhattacharyya worked with the TechLaunch Office that provided patenting support to the UALR community.

“When you consider our recent designation as a Carnegie R2 research institution, having faculty leaders like Dr. Bhattacharyya is important,” Cooksey said. “His personal research areas reflect 21st century areas of future engineering, especially in the area of smart materials.”

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers named him an ASME Fellow in November 2014.

Prior to Little Rock, Bhattacharyya served as a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. He also spent two years as a senior research associate in the department of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University in the mid-1990s.

Earning his doctorate at Rutgers University in mechanical and aerospace engineering, Bhattacharyya also received his master’s degree in mechanics and materials science from Rutgers. His bachelor’s degree came from Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur in his native India. He and his wife, Dr. Sudeepa Bhattacharyya, have two children: Trisha, a senior at UC Berkeley finishing up her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and Isha, who is in seventh grade.


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