Kenneth T. Christensen Named New Dean of Armour College of Engineering

University of Notre Dame’s Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department Chair to Bring Commitment to Next-Generation Manufacturing, Innovation to Illinois Tech


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Ken Christensen

CHICAGO—Kenneth T. Christensen has been named the next Carol and Ed Kaplan Armour College Dean of Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech).

Christensen, who is prioritizing efforts at Notre Dame to bring innovation and industry-relevant experiences to students, will take over for outgoing Dean Natacha DePaola, who has led the largest college at Illinois Tech for the past 11 years.

“I’ve always admired and appreciated the excellence of Illinois Tech’s Armour College of Engineering,” said Christensen. “I’m very excited to be a part of that tradition and to help forge its next phase of impact and prominence in service to humanity. Illinois Tech is well-positioned to be a driving force in Chicago’s continued rise as a global technology and innovation hub.”

Christensen, who will start at Illinois Tech on December 1, 2020, is currently the Viola D. Hank Professor and chair of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, with a joint appointment in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences. Christensen’s research expertise is in experimental fluid mechanics, with an emphasis on flows central to a range of energy, environmental, and geophysical applications.

“We look forward to working with Ken as we build upon the legacy of student success at Armour College of Engineering,” said Alan W. Cramb, Illinois Tech’s president. “We thank Natacha DePaola for her leadership, vision, and impact on our Illinois Tech community during her term as dean.”

At Notre Dame, Christensen leads the Engineering Innovation Hub (EIH), an initiative which aims to partner with industry to create experiential learning opportunities for students and promote entrepreneurship throughout the community. He also was part of a team that secured a grant to promote regional economic development and innovation, for which the first-phase of the EIH will be an important component. As a result, Notre Dame students will have access to the same high-end, next-generation manufacturing equipment being used in industry.

“Ken is a world class academic leader with a proven track record in innovation, collaboration, and a passion for student success – a perfect fit for Armour,” said Peter Kilpatrick, Illinois Tech’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “With his strong and principled leadership, I look forward to this next chapter in Armour’s storied history.”

Christensen said he hopes to build on Illinois Tech’s focus on hands-on learning by cultivating industry partnerships to help promote learning experiences and degree programs that are highly experiential and align well with workforce needs. He is also committed to fostering collaborative mentorship and development within Armour College to facilitate the long-term success of students, faculty, and staff, an initiative he also prioritized at Notre Dame.

Christensen also hopes to amplify Armour’s interdisciplinary approach to training the next generation of engineering leaders and to advancing discovery and technology innovation, supported by a commitment to access, diversity, and excellence.

“Society’s challenges are inherently interdisciplinary, and solutions must account for not only technological considerations but also social, economic, and legal ones,” he said. “The best solutions to problems will come about when a diverse set of individuals, perspectives, and expertise come to the table to solve them.”

Prior to Notre Dame, Christensen was a faculty member at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of New Mexico. He received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of New Mexico, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from Caltech, and a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from U of I.



Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university. Illinois Tech is the only university of its kind in Chicago, and its Chicago location offers students access to the world-class resources of a great global metropolis. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. One of 23 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities, Illinois Tech provides an exceptional education centered on active learning, and its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Illinois Tech uniquely prepares students to succeed in professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit.