Life in Engineering Leads Cezeaux to ATU

Fate was sending Dr. Judy Cezeaux down a path to Arkansas Tech University from the word go.

“My father was an engineer, so pretty much the day I was born I was going to be an engineer,” said Cezeaux, whose father, Malcom, was a mechanical engineer at Armco Steel in Houston, Texas. “At some point I wanted to be a veterinarian, so I became a biomedical engineer and it all came together. It started very young because there was an expectation that we were going to follow in the family business.”

Cezeaux is doing just that in her new appointment as dean of the ATU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and professor of engineering.

“If you look at the (ATU) mission statement, that’s really what appeals to me,” said Cezeaux, who took office at Tech on June 18. “This is primarily an undergraduate institution. When I was at the University of Tennessee…I found that I was really good at mentoring undergraduates. That’s what led me to Western New England University, which is primarily an undergraduate institution, and I see a lot of similarities between that university and (ATU) even though it’s a private university in New England compared to a public university in Arkansas. There are a lot of similarities between the two with respect to the undergraduate flavor and focus on student success. That’s what drew me here.”

Cezeaux holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Carnegie Mellon University. She was part of a freshman class that included 90 mechanical engineering students — nine of which were female.

“We pretty much stuck together,” said Cezeaux. “We mentored each other, and now we are all across the country.”

She went on to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and began her career as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Kentucky. She was associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and engineering science at the University of Tennessee from 1991-2000.

Cezeaux arrived at Western New England University in 2000 and assumed the duties of associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering. She was promoted to chair of biomedical engineering in 2008 and remained in that position for a decade before moving to ATU.

There are two mentors Cezeaux points to as being particular influential in her career. One is Dr. Steven Schreiner, with whom she worked at Western New England. The other is Dr. Jack Forrester, with whom she worked at the University of Tennessee.

“(Forrester) showed me how a university works,” said Cezeaux. “It’s a unique environment that doesn’t always make sense to external people, but for some reason to academics it makes perfect sense. That was my first understanding of the expectations of a faculty member…the service, the faculty governance…things about the internal workings of a university that most people would have no idea about and how important those things are.”

As dean of the ATU College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Cezeaux will provide leadership for the university’s programs in agriculture, computer and information science, electrical engineering, emergency management, mechanical engineering and parks, recreation and hospitality administration.

“People think these programs are very different, but really, there are problems and solutions, and we’re all working toward the same thing,” said Cezeaux. “To me, it seems exciting. We cover the human experience in this college. I think there are a lot of opportunities with respect to cross-discipline solutions. The opportunities we have for collaboration are very exciting.”

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