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Dean's Message

Dean Christopher B. Roberts
Dean Christopher B. Roberts

What a difference a year can make. Around this time last year, the nation was gripped with fear and uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic. The Auburn campus was largely quiet as the 2019-20 academic year came to a close with faculty, staff and students working and learning from home.  

Now, we are seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. After beginning the fall 2020 semester mostly online, we were able to introduce more in-person, blended and Hyflex instruction for the spring 2021 semester. Most of the Auburn Engineering community was back on campus by February. Students, faculty and staff bought into our campus safety protocols, and because of that and a first-rate vaccination program through Auburn University and the East Alabama Medical Center, COVID-19 cases on campus hovered in the single digits for the latter half of the spring semester. 

As we begin to finally overcome this pandemic, our hope is for the fall 2021 semester to look, and feel, as normal as possible. With that, we can fully resume the hands-on, experiential learning that is a hallmark of the Auburn Engineering experience and makes us the best student-centered engineering experience in America.

Although some institutions will look at 2020-21 as a lost year, I am happy to report it was anything but at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering. We maintained our top 30 public ranking among in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs and climbed five spots to No. 18 in the Best Online Engineering Programs rankings. 

Auburn Engineering students continued to excel with many major achievements — both individually and as part of student groups. We once again added to our list of Goldwater Scholarship winners, while our American Concrete Institute chapter and the Autonomous Tiger Racing team also picked up national accolades. 

Our research program also grew to new heights, driven by the outstanding grantsmanship of our faculty and research staff, and we added to our impressive recent roster of National Science Foundation CAREER Award winners. Our research efforts are poised for further growth after the 2020 debut of the new $22 million Advanced Structural Engineering Laboratory, which is perhaps the finest structural engineering lab in the country with unique experimental capabilities. 

We also took a big step to elevate Auburn’s already prominent transportation engineering research programs with the establishment of the new Auburn University Transportation Research Institute and the appointment of national transportation leader Laurence Rilett from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as its director. 

As we look back on the past year’s accomplishments in the 2020-21 Dean’s Report, please know there is much more to look forward to as our outstanding faculty, staff and students drive this great college forward. 


Christopher B. Roberts