Email Print Share

News Release 08-154

Thomas W. Peterson to Become NSF Assistant Director for Engineering

Appointment begins in January 2009

Photo of Thomas W. Peterson

Thomas W. Peterson

September 16, 2008

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Thomas W. Peterson, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona, has been selected as the new assistant director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Directorate for Engineering. Peterson has served as Arizona's dean of the engineering college since 1998. He will start at NSF in January 2009.

Peterson was the head of chemical and environmental engineering at Arizona from 1990-98, and led the merger of those two programs. During that time period, his department was home to the first Engineering Research Center in Arizona, supported jointly by NSF and the Semiconductor Research Corporation and focusing on environmentally benign semiconductor manufacturing.

"I can't tell you how pleased we are to have Dr. Peterson join us," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. "His deep knowledge of university engineering research, history of creating collaborative programs on campus and commitment to engineering education will allow him to hit the ground running at NSF."

As dean of Arizona's engineering college, Peterson has initiated or continued the support of a number of collaborative programs between engineering and other colleges on campus. These collaborations include undergraduate programs in optical science and engineering, engineering management and biosystems engineering (with the colleges of Optics, Management and Agriculture, respectively) and graduate programs in biomedical engineering and the management of technology (with Medicine and Management).

Peterson is currently the vice chair of the Engineering Deans Council of the American Society for Engineering Education. He was one of the founding members of the Global Engineering Deans Council and has made global education experiences a high priority for engineering students at Arizona. He came to Arizona as an assistant professor in 1977. He holds three degrees in chemical engineering: a bachelor of science degree from Tufts University, a master of science degree from Arizona, and a doctorate from Caltech.

NSF's engineering directorate provides critical support for the nation's engineering research activities and is a driving force behind the training and development of the United States engineering workforce. With a budget of approximately $640 million, the directorate supports fundamental research, the creation of cutting edge facilities and tools, broad interdisciplinary collaborations, and through its centers and Small Business Innovation Research program, enhances the competitiveness of U.S. companies.


Media Contacts
Dana Topousis, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-7750, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website:
NSF News:
For News Media:
Awards database:

Follow us on social