VANCOUVER, Wash. — Hakan Gurocak (Ha-kahn Gur-o-jock), director of engineering and computer science programs at Washington State University Vancouver, has been named director of the new WSU Institute for Engineering and Science, effective Aug. 1.


Gurocak has served as an associate professor of manufacturing engineering at WSU Vancouver since 1997 and has actively participated in the program’s development since its inception. He also developed the curriculum and laboratory facilities for robotics and automation courses. In his additional role, Gurocak will orchestrate all activities to develop and implement degree programs for the newly formed institute.


“Dr. Gurocak’s extensive background in engineering and research, his personal commitment to teaching and an impressive record of collaboration with area industry make him the ideal choice to direct WSU’s new Institute for Engineering and Science,” said WSU Vancouver Chancellor Hal Dengerink. “Under his expert leadership, the institute will help position southwest Washington at the forefront of engineering education, discovery and outreach.”


The WSU Vancouver Institute for Engineering and Science is a unique public-private partnership that will offer seamless, four-year degrees to students in southwest Washington beginning September 2004 through close curricula collaboration with Clark and Lower Columbia Colleges.  All Institute programs will be offered at the WSU Vancouver campus, synthesizing the abilities, expertise and resources of community college and WSU Vancouver faculty in the highly demanded fields of engineering, science and technology.


The institute will expand higher education access in disciplines that are particularly important to the area’s high-technology employers. Degree programs in mechanical engineering, computer science and sciences will be offered, with other degrees and programs to be added in the future. It will also contribute to the region’s economic development by utilizing faculty research expertise to increase the innovation abilities of the high-tech cluster existing in Southwest Washington.


“Large technologically-based companies currently import much of their engineering talent, which deprives local citizens of the opportunity to participate in that success and often leads to rapid turnover for the employer,” Gurocak said. “The availability of local degree programs will provide area companies with highly-skilled graduates whose roots are firmly established in Southwest Washington.”


Gurocak’s research interests include robotics, automation, intelligent control, haptic interfaces for virtual reality and technology-assisted delivery of laboratory courses at a distance over the Internet.  Since 1997, he has brought in more than $1 million in industry equipment donations and grants funded by the National Science Foundation, Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation and others.


In 2001, Gurocak received the WSU Vancouver Faculty Research Excellence Award and the best paper award in the manufacturing division of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference the same year.  He chairs the manufacturing division of ASEE and is a member of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.