NMSU chemical engineering professor receives national Engineering Education Excellence Award

By Linda Fresques
July 2009

Dr. David Rockstraw

Dr. David Rockstraw was recognized for his contributions to engineering education.

David A. Rockstraw, NMSU professor of chemical engineering, has received an Engineering Education Excellence award from the National Society of Professional Engineers in Higher Education interest group.

This national award recognizes engineering faculty who have demonstrated the ability to link engineering education with professional practice. The recipients must be licensed and have a tenure-track faculty appointment in an ABET-accredited engineering program. Recipients of the award are recognized on the NSPE web site and receive a cash prize of $5,000. The 2009 award was announced at the NSPE Annual Convention on July 17 in St. Louis, MO. PE Magazine will include an article about Dr. Rockstraw’s accomplishments that led to award committee selecting him to be honored with this award.

Rockstraw joined the NMSU chemical engineering faculty in 1995 with more than eight years of industrial experience with E. I. duPont de Nemours Co., Conoco Corp., Ethyl Corp., and Kraft, Inc. Rockstraw’s research program is as diverse as his industrial background, and includes research in the areas of materials, separations, and reaction kinetics. Rockstraw, a licensed professional engineer in the state of New Mexico, consults for numerous clientele, and works as an expert witness on litigation involving chemical reactor explosions, patent and trade secret assessment, and spontaneous combustion fires.

He holds leadership positions at the state and national levels in the National Society of Professional Engineers, as the Chair-Elect to the Professional Engineers in Higher Education interest group. He also serves as the adviser to NMSU’s student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers which was recognized as Outstanding Student Chapter for the 2007-2008 school year and was honored for Outstanding Student Chapter Web Site in 2009.

Rockstraw received a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and a doctoral degree from Oklahoma University, both in chemical engineering. He holds three patents.

The Sustaining Universities Program of the Professional Engineers in Higher Education of the National Society of Professional Engineers established the award to recognize engineering educators each year. A minority of engineering educators are licensed. PEHE believes that engineering educators should possess the professional designation. To date, a handful of states have enacted legislation to require engineering faculty to become licensed.

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