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Michael A. Paolino, director of the engineering division at Lafayette College, will step down after 14 years at the helm of one of the nation’s leading undergraduate engineering programs. Effective next academic year James P. Schaffer, a member of Lafayette’s chemical engineering faculty since 1990, will take over as director of engineering.

The announcement was made by Lafayette President Arthur J. Rothkopf, who said Schaffer was selected after a national search that produced some 40 candidates.

“All of us at Lafayette are grateful to Mike Paolino for 14 years of superior service to the engineering division and the College,” Rothkopf says. “Always concerned first and foremost for our students, he has provided dedicated and effective leadership and leaves a legacy of excellence in engineering.

“I am confident that the engineering program will continue to thrive under Jim Schaffer’s direction,” Rothkopf adds.

Under Paolino, Lafayette’s engineering program has solidified its academic reputation and continued a long history of excellence. Lafayette ranks No. 1 among all U.S. colleges that grant only bachelor’s degrees in the number of graduates who went on to earn doctorates in engineering between 1920-1995, according to the Franklin and Marshall College study “Baccalaureate Origins of Doctoral Recipients.”

Engineering majors make up about 22 percent of Lafayette’s student body. The College offers bachelor of science programs in chemical engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and mechanical engineering. There is also a bachelor of arts degree program in engineering that exemplifies Lafayette’s tradition of integrating engineering and the liberal arts and a five-year, two-degree program that links a B.S. in engineering degree with another degree in international studies.

The engineering program has thrived under Paolino’s leadership, maintaining enrollments in an era when undergraduate engineering enrollments have declined nationally. A hallmark of the program its high proportion of engineering majors who are women, 28 percent, far exceeding the national average of 17 percent.

Schaffer, an associate professor of chemical engineering, was honored as the nation’s most outstanding young engineering educator by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in 1998. He was the recipient of society’s George Westinghouse Award, recognizing his contributions to improving engineering teaching.

Schaffer holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and master’s and doctoral degrees in materials science, from Duke University. He taught at Georgia Tech for five years before coming to Lafayette.

“I believe that engineers should be educated in a liberal-arts environment,” Schaffer says. “That’s why I came to Lafayette. Engineering students here benefit so much from faculty and students in the arts, humanities, and sciences.”

His teaching and research specialty is the physical and electronic structure of materials. He is coauthor of a widely used textbook, The Science and Design of Engineering Materials, published by McGraw Hill. Its second edition was published in 1999. He uses the text in courses he teaches on materials, ceramics, and composites. He also helped develop a new team-oriented, hands-on course for first-year engineering students and teaches a sophomore-level course in technical literacy for non-engineers.

Schaffer has been a research mentor to nearly 50 Lafayette students. “The primary purpose of my research program is to educate students,” he says.

In 1989 Schaffer won the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, recognizing significant contributions to teaching, research, and student development. In 1996 he received the Distinguished Teaching Award, Middle Atlantic Section, from the ASEE. In 1999 he won the Bradley Stoughton Award from the Lehigh Valley chapter of ASM International, The Materials Information Society. The chapter’s highest award, presented annually since 1944, recognizes “outstanding contributions to engineered materials.”

Schaffer has received two major campus-wide awards at Lafayette, the Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Award for outstanding teaching and scholarship in 1994 and the Marquis Distinguished Teaching Award for exceptional contributions to students, the curriculum and the College in 1996. The students twice voted him the Student Government Award for Superior Teaching, in 1996 and 1998.

In addition to overseeing the engineering division, Paolino has taught one course each semester. Following a one-year sabbatical leave he will return to full-time teaching and research in the department of mechanical engineering. His areas of research specialization include computational fluid mechanics and heat transfer. He has published many articles in leading journals in the field, including the Journal of Heat Transfer, Journal of Metals, International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids, and Journal of Applied Mechanics.

Paolino came to Lafayette following 13 years on the faculty of the U.S. Military Academy, where he directed the thermomechanics group in the mechanics department. Beginning in 1983 he spearheaded the development of a new mechanical engineering program by integrating the assets of the mechanics department with those of the engineering department.

After earning a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Siena College in 1960 Paolino joined the army and rose to the rank of colonel, serving two one-year combat tours in Vietnam and earning five Bronze Star medals. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona, the latter in 1972, and joined the West Point faculty in 1973.

Paolino played a significant role in the development of hypervelocity rocket technology at the army’s Aviation and Missle Command, Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala., a premier military research and development facility.

In 1979 he was the recipient of the Ralph R. Teetor Award from the Society of Automotive Engineers.

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