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Welcome New Dean, Jim Pfaendtner

Jim Pfaendtner
Jim Pfaendtner

Chemical engineer Jim Pfaendtner has been named the Louis Martin-Vega Dean of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University, effective August 1, 2023.

Jim was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and “always had an inclination toward science and technology.” In high school, Jim attended an engineering and technology summer camp at Georgia Tech where Ron Rousseau (formerly an NC State CBE professor from 1969-1986) gave a motivational talk. “I remember Ron describing chemical engineering as a challenging major that focused on solving big problems and provided a pathway to interesting jobs that paid well, and I was sold.” 

Inspired, Jim attended Georgia Tech and received his B.S. in chemical engineering. From there, Jim had a “short stint in industry” at 3M but realized that he had a calling to higher education. He then attended Northwestern University and received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering. 

“Educating and training the next generation of chemical engineering practitioners and researchers have been the major part of my career and something I remain very passionate about,” says Jim. 

Previously, Jim served as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington and led his department’s scholarly and educational activities. He concurrently served as the UW’s first Associate Vice Provost for Research Computing. 

Jim chose to join the Wolfpack for several reasons. “My early introduction to NC State was through CBE faculty in my research field and CBE alumni I know who work in academia – so I have always had an extremely high impression of the University. In many of my interactions, I have been so impressed with the way NC State has seamlessly blended the public service mindset of a land grant school with one of the strongest research portfolios in a college of engineering nationwide.”

As the new Dean of the College of Engineering, Jim is looking forward to bringing his chemical engineering background into his new role and identifying how he can be of service to help achieve the goals of the college and the University.

“This is a super exciting time for NC State engineering — growth is always a challenge and an opportunity, and I am really looking forward to digging into the most pressing challenges. I’ve already been blown away by how friendly and welcoming the whole community is and cannot wait to officially join the Wolfpack this August.” 

Welcome Dean Pfaendtner!