Two new department heads appointed

Two new department heads have been appointed in the College of Technology. Kenneth Burbank, Ph.D., will be head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology. Ragu Athinarayanan, Ph.D., will be head of the new Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology

Since 2001, Burbank has been a professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., and he was department head for the last three years. He has also held teaching positions at Virginia State University, New England Institute of Technology and the University of Rhode Island.

Prior to his roles in the classroom, Burbank gained industry experience as an engineer and supervisor at Cherry Semiconductor Corp. in East Greenwich, R.I., and Solid State Scientific in Montgomeryville, Pa. He earned his doctorate, master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering from Brown University in Providence, R.I.

“Purdue and the College of Technology have always been benchmarks for engineering technology programs,” Burbank said. “For me to have the opportunity to come here and lead one of the units is awesome. The college is a national leader, and I will do whatever I can to ensure it stays the national leader and, hopefully, a global leader.”

Burbank has two initial priorities as he starts his new position. First, he will begin the work of filling several faculty positions left vacant by retiring professors while addressing the strategic goals of the department. Second, he would like to place more focus on making the curriculum and laboratories more inviting to a variety of students.

Technology Leadership & Innovation

Athinarayanan comes to Purdue from his post as associate dean of the School of Polytechnic Studies and professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

He has had extensive experience in implementing degree programs that are responsive to the needs of industry and working with accrediting agencies. He earned his Ph.D. in engineering science, and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering, all from Southern Illinois University.

The Department of Technology Leadership & Innovation was created from a merger of the departments of Industrial Technology and Organizational Leadership and Supervision. Athinarayanan is the first department head.

“What I saw in this position was a unique opportunity to lead this new department in developing a framework to address the national trends in academia, business, and industry that are consistent with the challenges and demands of the 21st century,” he said.

Athinarayanan expects his first priorities to focus on completing the merger of two departments and helping them coalesce into a larger, stronger entity.

“I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and the level of engagement by all the faculty and staff in TLI, and I am very optimistic this new department can ramp up very quickly and make a strong impact nationally and internationally,” he said.

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