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College of Engineering announces new department chairs, school director

Recent growth in the Boise State University College of Engineering has propelled it to the largest engineering college in the state of Idaho. As the college continues to evolve to meet the needs of students and communities across the state, it has announced one returning department chair and three new department chair positions for the 2024-25 academic year. These roles will provide leadership in key areas critical to advancing the college’s goals of improving educational access and student success, advancing research, and developing thriving communities through trailblazing programs and partnerships. 

A returning chair, Anthony Marker, professor of Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning and director of the Wisdom Implementation Lab has taken the reins of the the department once again. Jerry Alan Fails, professor of computer science, who serves as the Dean Fellow for Graduate Academic Affairs and Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Computer Science, will chair the Department of Computer Science. Eric Jankowski, an associate professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering and Dean Fellow for the Micron Student Success Center will be the new director for the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering. Trevor Lujan, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, will serve as the new chair of his department.  

“I welcome Dr. Marker back to the leadership team this year. His background and knowledge will be key in the college’s transition to new leadership,” College of Engineering Dean JoAnn Lighty said. “Drs. Fails, Jankowski and Lujan, all active researchers, have a wealth of knowledge in advancing research, teaching and student success which will continue to accelerate COEN in meeting its Blueprint for Success goals.”

The decision to elevate current faculty members was guided by the college’s values and a dedication to an unshakeable focus on learning for faculty and staff, as well as for students. 

“I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Drs. Yonnie Chyung, Amy Moll, and Todd Otanicar for their outstanding leadership over the last three years,” Lighty said. “I also would like to thank Dr. Amit Jain who has served for six years. They have left a lasting legacy, enabling their units to continue to reach new heights in teaching, scholarship, and service.”

Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning Department Chair Anthony Marker

Marker spent several years as a freelance consultant in the greater Boston area before moving into academia, joining Boise State in 2005, and has held the position of department chair once before, from 2016 to 2020.

Marker was also the director of the Wisdom Implementation Lab creating a more livable society by taking research-based principles and practices for wisdom development and making them accessible for practice and use in the workplace.

In his return to the position, one of Marker’s goals is to develop the next leaders who will take over the department in the years to come. He hopes to provide Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning students with more opportunities to excel and stand out as practitioners in the field.

“It’s important to develop new leaders internally so that they can use their deep knowledge about the program to choose the best paths for the department’s next steps,” Marker said.

Marker’s professional experience as a technical writer, instructional designer and developer, project manager, and principal consultant bring a wide range of expertise to the fully online program. The program ranks as one of the largest enrolled graduate programs at Boise State.

The online program thrives on the expertise and dedication of the faculty and staff, recognized for their excellence in teaching, research and service to community and industries such as telecommunications, financial, pharmaceutical, government and nonprofit organizations.

“The quick evolution of artificial intelligence is impacting almost every aspect of higher education,” Marker said. “It is going to provide exciting opportunities and challenges for faculty and students in our field for the foreseeable future. Blending the established and effective principles of human performance improvement with new technologies is a key to retaining our place at the top of our profession.”

Computer Science Department Chair Jerry Alan Fails

Before joining the Department of Computer Science, Fails obtained two degrees from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. He has been teaching students the fundamentals of computer programming and human-computer interaction since joining Boise State in 2016 as an associate professor.

Fails serves as the Steering Committee Chair for the International Interaction Design and Children. His research expertise in Human-Computer Interaction, with a focus on designing, developing and researching technology using participatory methods, provides him with unique perspectives as he steps into his new role.

“Simply stated, my goal is to bring people together by cultivating a community and culture of innovation and collaboration within our department, and building strong bridges to the broader community around us,” Fails said. “This will allow us to continue to leverage our computing expertise to make a difference in the world around us.”

Fails scope of duties includes leading the College of Engineering’s largest undergraduate program, the college’s second largest masters program, and the college’s participation in the largest doctoral program at Boise State.

“The department’s growth in the last decade has launched the CS department on an amazing trajectory toward continued success,” Fails said. “With industry, state and university support, our programs have grown and will continue to do so to better meet the needs of local industry, and to nationally and internationally continue to make a mark with the innovative research conducted by our students and faculty.”

Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering Director Eric Jankowski

Jankowski joined the Micron school in 2015 as an assistant professor leading the Computational Materials Engineering Laboratory. Now, he serves as the school’s third director and leads the college’s largest research contributor. As of 2023, the school contributed nearly $9.5 million of the total $18.2 million in research expenditures generated by the college annually.

Originally from Michigan, Jankowski earned his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan where he developed computational tools to study the self-assembly of nanoparticles. While further developing his research at Boise State, Jankowski has pioneered storytelling in engineering education, and served as a Dean Fellow for the Micron Student Success Center where he curates leadership opportunities for training and engaging undergraduate students.

“I’m hopeful that we can continue growing interdisciplinary connections in service of our students,” Jankowski said. “Not just in engineering: Across arts and sciences, education, health, business, and policy. Working together activates the wisdom of our communities in exciting and transformative ways.” 

He aims to help the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering keep its undergraduate programs relevant and assist in addressing challenges the program faces. Engineering fields are advancing and—as materials make up everything—Jankowski says it’s important for instruction and research to keep up.

“One of our challenges, which is also an opportunity, is bringing our faculty’s computing and AI expertise into the classroom in ways that empower students while also being mindful of the time demands on everyone,” Jankowski said.

Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Department Chair Trevor Lujan

Lujan’s research uses principles of mechanical engineering to help prevent and treat injuries to human joints (e.g. sprains, strains, and arthritis). This work is a passion he first developed as a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah in the Musculoskeletal Research Laboratory.

Lujan spent nearly three years traveling abroad across South America, southeast Asia, Europe and Oceania before finishing his doctoral degree. As a research assistant in New Zealand, Lujan worked on a project aimed at optimizing rowing performance in Olympic athletes. 

After graduating from the University of Utah, Lujan worked with clinicians in Portland to develop commercial products related to fracture healing, osteoarthritis and traumatic brain injury. He now serves as the director of the Northwest Tissue Mechanics Laboratory, while teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in mechanical and biomedical engineering.

“I’m excited to serve my department as the chair and bring my life experiences to this position,” Lujan said. “I feel lucky to work with energetic and fun colleagues who embrace innovative approaches to navigate the profound transformations occurring in education, science and technology.”

Lujan will take the lead of the college’s second largest undergraduate program with nearly 500 students. Across the last two years, the department has graduated four Top Ten Scholars and increased its research and creative activities with collaborative, interdisciplinary efforts.

“The department chair plays a central role in providing faculty with the support they need to deliver an exceptional education to our undergraduate and graduate students,” Lujan said. “As chair, I’ll also be working hard to support the continued expansion of our research footprint, and build community and partnerships inside and outside of Boise State.”

Lujan is committed to developing teaching tools that make difficult engineering concepts more accessible to students with diverse learning styles contributing to the college’s goal of improving educational access and student success.