Since arriving in July, Dr. Faris Malhas, new dean of the College of Technology, has kept up a demanding pace of getting to know the college and pursuing accreditation for various areas, all while revising his best-selling textbook on structural steel.
A structural engineer by training, Malhas’s textbook Steel Structure Design and Behavior is now in its fifth edition and “the sixth is in the works,” he said. This past December, he was invited as a keynote speaker for the fifth International Jordanian Civil Engineering Conference. The title of his lecture was “The Seismic (Earthquake) Design of Steel Buildings in the U.S.”
Like the engineer he is, Malhas takes a considered approach to developing the college’s potential. He and the faculty have begun the process of careful strategic planning, reconfiguring programs and gradually developing new college policies through consensus.
“This will help us grow and be innovative and more robust in the way we approach new opportunities and programs,” Malhas said. “We need to grow the kinds of technical programs that make sense for the mission of the college. We want to collaborate with the community colleges, to allow for seamless transfer of students to our programs, and develop better collaboration with BGSU Firelands. We’re working with Dean Bill Balzer so our students there can utilize all the possible educational opportunities we offer here on the main campus.”
Recently, the Department of Architecture and Environmental Design received approval from the state to begin offering a graduate program in architecture, paving the way for the architecture program to receive National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accreditation.
“The University has committed to prepare the appropriate space and facilities for this program. A representative from NAAB has visited the University on an exploratory visit, which is fantastic,” Malhas said. If things go as expected, BGSU architecture students who graduate in May will be graduates of an accredited program.
The same is true of the engineering technology programs. “Our first focus is to pursue accreditation from ABET (the accrediting organization) for the engineering technologies, including electronics and computer engineering technology and the general engineering technologies programs,” Malhas said. “If all goes according to plan, this year’s juniors will be graduates of an ABET-Technology Accreditation Commission-accredited program, which is very important for the credibility of the programs and to the careers of our students.
“Another focus is expanding our lab facilities. We’re all about hands-on learning, so we need to expand our experiential programs,” he said. A key aspect of that is the co-op component, which is required by all the college’s programs and frequently leads to job opportunities. “We take it very seriously,” Malhas said.
Visual Communication Technology, with about 400 students and the largest department in the college, is revamping its program with a new tenure-track, research-oriented faculty to help develop a graduate program in cross-media technology.
With strong ties to construction and architectural firms, the construction management program is poised for more enrollment, Malhas said. The SSOE Group, from Toledo, “made a handsome donation of two, $2,500 scholarships to the program, for which we’re very grateful,” he said.
The college also plans to expand its outreach through a variety of summer camps for students K-12, including some for girls, Malhas said. Expansion of the existing online degree programs is another path to serving more students.