Tarleton Names Dr. Rafael Landaeta Inaugural Dean for Engineering College

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Following a rigorous national search, Rafael Landaeta, PhD, has been named the inaugural Dean of Tarleton State University’s soon-to-be College of Engineering (now a school), effective June 1, pending approval by The Texas A&M University System.

Dr. Landaeta currently serves as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at Old Dominion University’s Batten College of Engineering and Technology in Norfolk, Va. The college boasts an enrollment exceeding 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and the highest military/veteran student population (17 percent) in Virginia.

“Dr. Landaeta is a distinguished engineer and academician with a proven record of combining student learning with industry partnerships,” said Dr. Diane Stearns, Tarleton Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “His passion for student success, faculty scholarship and regional economic development is critical to our mission of training the very best engineers.”  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects engineering job growth nationwide to increase 7 percent by 2026, with demand in civil, mechanical and industrial growing fastest. Texas ranks second behind only California in engineers employed.

Dr. Landaeta joined Old Dominion in 2003 as an Assistant Professor in the Batten engineering college. He helped revise the university’s Intellectual Property Policy and served on the President’s Task Force on Entrepreneurship, Commercialization and Economic Development, resulting in creation of the Institution for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

During his tenure the number of prospective engineering students on campus has increased 250 percent (to 4,938 from 1,975) while off-campus outreach surpasses 10,000. Applications from female students have grown 46 percent.

In 2013 he coordinated an educational service agreement with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to support a $300,000 grant to develop and deliver a graduate certificate. He played an active role in the planning, programming and development of the $2 million Engineering Makerspace and Invention Center, a free-to-use facility that enables students to design, build and test creations of all kinds.

“I am extremely honored to join Tarleton,” he said. “I look forward to leading the new college’s faculty, staff and students as we work to meet the growing need for professional engineers in Texas.”

Dr. Landaeta holds a PhD in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Central Florida. His bachelor’s in mechanical engineering is from UNITEC Venezuela. He serves as an associate editor for the Engineering Management Journal and is faculty adviser for the Old Dominion student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Engineering Management Honor Society.

The American Society for Engineering Management recognized him with a Meritorious Service Award in 2006 and again in 2012. The society elected him a fellow in 2014. At Old Dominion he received the Shining Star Award in 2010 and 2016, the Batten College of Engineering and Technology Excellence in Teaching Award in 2008, and the Industry Engagement Award in 2014.

His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

Anthem Executive helped with the national search.