Following a competitive national search, The University of Tulsa announced Tuesday that Andreas A. Polycarpou, Ph.D., currently the James J. Cain ’51 Chair in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, will serve as the James Sorem Dean of TU’s College of Engineering & Computer Science. Polycarpou will begin his term on July 1.
Polycarpou brings a wealth of expertise as both a mechanical engineer and leader in higher education. He recently served on special assignment as the acting department head of periodontics, acting department head of endodontics, acting dean, and special advisor to the permanent dean at the Texas A&M School of Dentistry in Dallas. Prior to that, he served for nearly nine years as the department head of the J. Mike Walker ’66 Mechanical Engineering Department at Texas A&M.
“I am grateful and honored to accept this opportunity to build upon TU’s excellent foundation in engineering and computer science,” said Polycarpou. “The fact that the college will be renamed and restructured, effective July 1, offers significant opportunities for growth and I look forward to further strengthening the college and the university as a top private research university for the students, alumni, faculty, staff, the city of Tulsa, and beyond.”
Last November, TU President Brad R. Carson announced that the university would evolve and create the College of Engineering & Computer Science (ECS) by shifting the biology, chemistry and biochemistry, physics, and geoscience departments to form the Oxley College of Health & Natural Sciences effective July 1, 2023. This realignment allowed TU the opportunity to identify a candidate for the newly formed ECS college who can focus on growth in these fast-growing fields.
“I am thrilled to introduce Andreas as the inaugural dean of TU’s College of Engineering & Computer Science,” Carson said. “His accomplishments as an academic and researcher along with his experience in administration make him the best person to lead our faculty and students as we continue TU’s rise to the best research university in the central United States.”
Following an extensive, eight-month search involving faculty, staff, and student input, The University of Tulsa Board of Trustees approved Provost George Justice’s recommendation to hire Polycarpou.
“The most important thing a provost can do is hire and work with deans who lead their academic areas,” Justice said. “I’m proud to have attracted Andreas Polycarpou to TU and excited to work with him as he builds our academic programs in research and education alongside our faculty and students.”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) reports that degrees awarded in engineering and computer science have more than doubled since 2000. According to statistics released in February 2023, engineering degrees awarded have increased by 117% (59,487 to 129,185) and computer science bachelor’s degrees awarded have increased by 138% (37,519 to 89,421) between the years 2000 and 2022. Carson points to TU’s legacy in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and nimble nature as a private university as reasons he was able to initiate this realignment and attract a candidate as exceptional as Polycarpou.
“As a small but mighty institution, we can both respond to the growing demand in STEM-related fields and create the next generation of leaders through our rigorous and interdisciplinary, liberal arts education,” said Carson. “We are committed to equipping our students with the knowledge and skills needed to not only perform in these fields but to contribute to the global economy as innovators. Andreas’ appointment is key to that vision.”
TU’s College of Engineering & Computer Science offers undergraduate and graduate coursework in the fields of chemical engineering, computer science, computer simulation and gaming, bioinformatics, computational science, data science, cyber security, electrical engineering, computer engineering, mathematics, mechanical engineering, energy transition, petroleum engineering, engineering physics, neuroscience, general engineering, and biomedical engineering. The college will continue its over 35 institutes and research consortia, including multiple opportunities for undergraduate research, while also looking to expand into new areas of research including robotics.
Polycarpou plans to work closely with engineering and computer science faculty as well as other deans across the university to create new areas of study and disciplines of research.
“The areas of engineering and computer science, especially when working across the boundaries of disciplines, will enable major discoveries with significant societal impact,” said Polycarpou. “I am very interested in defining new areas of study and new degree programs that will not only serve the students and society of today, but those of 10, 20, 50 years from today. The societal needs are substantial, and engineering and computer science will play significant roles in addressing issues related to energy, cyber security, sustainability, equity, health, clean water, and economic growth.”
Until his retirement in April 2023, James Sorem Jr., Ph.D., served as dean of TU’s College of Engineering & Natural Sciences, which has repeatedly received international recognition for its petroleum engineering and cyber security programs, ranking among the Top 5 and Top 25 respectively. In April 2023, The University of Tulsa Office of Career Development and Professional Engagement reported a 95% placement rate of engineering and natural science graduates, among the highest in the nation.
About Andreas Polycarpou
Before joining Texas A&M University in 2012, Polycarpou was the W. Grafton and Lillian B. Wilkins Professor and the associate department head for undergraduate programs at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During his tenure at Illinois, Polycarpou served in several capacities in the campus-wide community, including as a faculty senator. While on a leave of absence from Illinois, he served as the founding department chair of mechanical engineering at Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates.
Polycarpou’s research interests include tribology (which is the science of interacting surfaces in relative motion), micro/nanotribology, nanomechanics, microtribodynamics, and advanced interface materials. Recent emphasis has been on sustainable water-based lubricants, advanced materials for nuclear and space applications, and energy storage devices.
Polycarpou is the author of more than 250 archival journal papers, numerous book chapters, and volume proceedings, as well as two dozen patents. He also co-founded a materials’ startup company in 2010. Polycarpou has won numerous national and international honors, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Mayo D. Hersey Award and the ASME Edwin F. Church Medal for pedagogical innovations and was recently inducted as a senior member of the American Academy of Inventors.
Polycarpou obtained his doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and worked for a high-tech magnetic storage company before starting his academic career.