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Thomas N. Farris was named dean of the Rutgers University School of Engineering July 1, 2009, overseeing the School’s seven academic departments including ten undergraduate and ten graduate degree programs, five nationally recognized research centers, and administrative, budget, and student services offices. The School is comprised of 200 full-time and research faculty, 100 full-time and research staff members, 3,950 undergraduates, and 1050 graduate students with an annual budget of $135 million. Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering, part of the School’s 375,000 net square feet, opened in 2018 with collaborative space providing a learning and research environment that includes labs, smart classrooms, lecture halls, and touchdown spaces. The transformative project serves as the gateway to the Busch Campus for collaboration with industry and government partners
Prior to Rutgers, Farris joined the Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics as assistant professor in 1986 and was appointed school head in 1998. While there he administered undergraduate and graduate education and research programs. In 2009, the school had 30 faculty and approximately 520 undergraduate and 270 graduate students and performed more than $8.5 million in externally funded research annually. During his tenure at Purdue, Farris had active teaching and research interests in aerospace structures and materials with a focus on tribology, manufacturing processes, and fatigue and fracture and was named the 2008 W.A. Gustafson Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher. He supervised more than 45 M.S. and Ph.D. theses, authored or co-authored more than 100 archival publications as well as more than 100 papers and presentations at conferences. He has served as principal or co-principal investigator for more than $22 million in externally sponsored research of which he was directly responsible for more than $5 million. Research in fretting fatigue led to computer software now used throughout the aircraft engine industry to assess the effect of attachment fatigue on high cycle fatigue of gas turbine engines.
He has been acknowledged for research by an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship, the ASME/Boeing Structures and Materials Award for outstanding paper of 1998 SDM, the Journal of Strain Analysis P E Publishing Award in 2002, and the ASME’s Burt L. Newkirk Award.
Farris is past chair of the Executive Committee of the Applied Mechanics Division of the ASME, past member of the Board of Directors for Engineers Without Borders-USA, consultant to the Army Science Board, and represented Rutgers-New Brunswick on Governor Murphy’s Economic Development Transition Team. He is Fellow of ASME (2001) and AIAA (2009) and member of the BoD of the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education.
Farris received a B.S.M.E. in 1982 from Rice University and a Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics at Northwestern University in 1986.
He and his wife, Bernadette, have five grown children, 4 sons and a daughter.