Dr. Ralph Ford is director of the School of Engineering and associate dean for industry and external relations at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. He is the chief officer of the School of Engineering with oversight of its six departments and academic programs, the school’s research and outreach centers, and over 70 faculty and staff. As Penn State Behrend’s associate dean he is responsible for the college’s Open Lab strategy and for developing strategic partnerships with external constituencies. He oversees the development and management of Knowledge Park, the college’s 100-acre technology park that houses 18 companies on campus with over 500 employees.
He became director of the School of Engineering in 2005 and has led efforts to create new majors, add new research centers, and has significantly increased enrollments to nearly 1,400 students. He has raised $30 million in external funds and gifts, including a $21 million gift from the California-based software firm Autodesk. The School of Engineering has increased its national visibility as reflected in its ranking as one of the top 50 undergraduate engineering schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
Dr. Ford joined Penn State in 1994 and then served as chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering for eight years. During this period, the department added new programs in computer and software engineering. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic, has served as an ABET accreditation program evaluator, obtained over $1M in external grant funding, and is the author of over 40 publications including the book Design for Electrical and Computer Engineers (McGraw-Hill).
Dr. Ford is the IEEE 2013 vice president for Member & Geographic Activities and a member of the IEEE Board of Directors. The IEEE is the largest technical professional society in the world with over 400,000 members worldwide. As vice president he is responsible for leading the strategic direction of membership development at a time when IEEE is growing rapidly around the globe.
Prior to joining Penn State, Dr. Ford worked at IBM Microelectronics developing computer vision systems for semi-conductor inspection and at Brookhaven National Laboratory on the strategic defense initiative.
He obtained his B.S. degree from Clarkson University, and the M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.