Indiana News

Rose-Hulman President: The World Needs More Well-Rounded Engineers

Conwell comes to Terre Haute school from private sector


Dr. James Conwell (Rose-Hulman Institute)

Rose-Hulman's new president wants everyone, not just engineers, to know that the Terre Haute school is the top engineering school in the nation.


Dr. James Conwell officially starts work at Rose-Hulman Institute on May 1st, but he already has become one of the college's biggest cheerleaders. The former college instructor and private-sector engineer says Rose-Hulman's consistent top-ranking among engineering schools by U.S. News and World Report is no fluke - he says several Rose-Hulman alumni are with his current employer, Jacobs Engineering Group.

Conwell taught undergraduate engineering at three colleges before moving into the private sector, and that's part of the reason a return to the academic world is appealing.   "From one sense, I'm able to take the basics from academics and layer it over top of the experience I got in industry, and hopefully I can bring some of that back to academics, and make sure the next generation of engineers is ready to be successful," Conwell said.

Rose-Hulman is a private school with 2,200 students. While many larger universities focus increasingly on graduate studies and faculty research, Conwell says he believes the world could benefit from more well-rounded engineers, which he says Rose-Hulman has been producing since its founding in 1874.  "Kind of what I want to do is - spend the first 30 or 45 days doing is meeting the people on campus and meeting the people in the community to understand the great ownership they seem to have in their product and in their institution."

While he is sure to have many goals as president, Conwell says a strategic plan for the future of Rose-Hulman is already in place because of the work of Matt Branam, the school president who wrote the plan before he died unexpectedly in April 2012. Conwell also credits the work of interim president Rob Coons for helping Rose-Hulman to not lose the focus of its vision during the transition.   "I'm very fortunate to be following Rob and what he did there. But the work Matt Branam put in place really is going to set Rose Hulman up for the future and the future graduates of Rose-Hulman up for great success."

A native of Pittsburgh, Conwell received his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate from Vanderbilt University.



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