April 9, 2015

Norman Dennis, Jr., PhD, PE, D.GE, F.ASCE is currently a University Professor of civil engineering and senior associate dean of the College of Engineering, at the University of Arkansas.  He was recently named a Fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). Founded in 1893, the American Society for Engineering Education is a nonprofit organization of individuals and institutions committed to furthering education in engineering and engineering technology. It accomplishes this mission by promoting excellence in instruction, research, public service, and practice; exercising worldwide leadership; fostering the technological education of society; and providing quality products and services to members.  

Dennis, who has been with the University of Arkansas since 1996, joins a group of about 370 Fellows at ASEE. He earned his PhD from the University of Texas-Austin in 1982 after having earned an MS in Business Administration at Boston University and both an MS and BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla.  Dennis has won numerous awards, including most recently being a member of the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineers in 2010, a Distinguished Visiting Professor by the US Air Force Academy in 2008-2009, as well as a Charles and Nadine Baum Faculty Teaching Award, University of Arkansas Outstanding Teacher in 2008.  

Dennis is a registered Professional Engineer in both Arkansas and Colorado and is a member of nearly 12 professional societies.  He was elected as a Diplomate of the Academy in 2010.  His specialty area is geotechnical engineering, which can be broadly defined as the design, construction and monitoring of structures built of earth or structures that are built on or beneath the ground surface, characterization of soil and rock for construction and the influence of geological features on the built environment.  In particular, his research deals with; innovative methods for site characterization using satellite imagery and other remote sensing techniques; characterization of soil for use in transportation applications using seismic and deflection based techniques; the use of geosynthetics to improve problematic soils; and the use of automated monitoring systems to remotely establish the health of geotechnical structures.

Dr. Dennis says, however, that his passion is not research but rather reaching, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as mentoring junior faculty.  While he was a member of the faculty at the United States Military Academy, one of his major responsibilities was the development of junior faculty.  He approached that duty as though it was research and developed formalized programs for faculty development based on a review of the literature and formal experimentation.  Since his arrival at the University of Arkansas, he has continued his work in faculty development and teaching improvement.  Since 2000, he's had over 600 engineering faculty enrolled in his teaching and learning workshops which have been offered around the world.  He has anecdotal evidence that the result of their attendance at these workshops is improved teaching, which he hopes translate into an improved learning experience for thousands of students. 

Read more about Dr. Dennis' achievement as Fellow of ASEE.