Eric Roe, former director of Applied Technology at Polk State College in Florida and founder of the Manufacturing Talent Development Institute, has been named the executive director of the Center for Lifelong Engineering Education (CLEE) in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.

Roe earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of South Florida. He began his career working in industrial research and development for the food and beverage sector. He has spent the last 15 years conducting academic research and creating innovative educational models to meet industry’s need for a more skilled technological workforce.

As director of the Associate in Science Degree Program in Engineering Technology at Polk, Roe focused on preparing students for careers in advanced manufacturing and high-tech industries, most recently shifting the program to a hybrid competency-based open-entry/open-exit format to meet the needs of both traditional and working learners.

In addition, he was the principal investigator and director of several grants from the U.S. Department of Labor, including a $2.9 million, community-based jobs-training grant to strengthen engineering technology and advanced manufacturing training and education programs.

“We are excited to welcome Eric to Texas Engineering,” said Cockrell School Dean Sharon L. Wood. “Throughout his career, Eric has been an innovator in professional engineering education, and we look forward to his leadership and the continued success of CLEE.”

Roe, who begins his tenure on Jan. 1, 2015, will assume the position previously held by Cath Polito, who is retiring after nearly 15 years with CLEE. Roe's central priorities include enhancing UT Austin’s workforce talent development system and creating sustainable programs that meet the needs of both students and industry stakeholders.

“I am thrilled to join the Cockrell School and to lead CLEE as we work with engineering faculty and staff to advance our program offerings,” Roe said.

Prior to his academic work at Polk, Roe held various positions in manufacturing research, technical services and engineering. He began his career in education, working with an interdisciplinary team funded by the National Science Foundation to create contextualized STEM learning resources, followed by serving as founding director of FLATE, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center.

CLEE is an industry leader in higher education, providing option III engineering master’s degrees that are ranked highest in the state of Texas and among the top 10 in the United States. CLEE also provides professional development courses, certificate programs, custom on-site courses for professional engineers and organizations and conference services.

Roe said he plans to bring his experience with industry-aligned, competency-based programs to enhance and create new professional development and master’s degree programs that build on what the world-renowned faculty at the Cockrell School are doing.

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cover of Texas Engineering magazine with group of students
cover of Texas Engineering magazine with group of students