Dr. Ryan Haaland, chair of the Fort Lewis College Department of Physics & Engineering, has led his department through a stunning period of growth and change. Student enrollment in the program has exploded over the last few years, and that increased interest will likely continue once the new Geosciences, Physics & Engineering (GPE) Hall, a facility which Dr. Haaland worked hard to make a reality, is completed in fall 2016.
Ask him—the winner of the 2016-17 Fort Lewis College Achievement Award—what he’s proudest of and he’s quick to point out that he’s one gear in the machine that has driven his department to greater and greater heights.
“I think it starts with the faculty and students,” he explains. “I mean, none of this happens without a great team and that team happens on both sides of the classroom, whether it’s the faculty up front or the students sitting in their chairs.”
“When you have the right group of people, you can do a lot. I feel like this award is really a reflection, not so much of me and what I’ve done, but of what our department has done to really take our program to a whole new level.”
All of his achievements, from working to create a new bachelor’s degree in engineering, to increasing enrollment in the program, to hiring more professors, to advocating for the new GPE Hall, are directed toward helping his students. Through helping his students, he’s not only helping his department and the College, but the entire world.
“I think what we’re seeing in physics and engineering is a desire by our current generation of young men and women to help fix these problems that the world faces,” he says.
“Part of our vision is to help produce the people who are going to solve those problems, and that’s inspiring everyday to come to work and know you’re a part of that in some way, shape or form.”
Perhaps Dr. Haaland, along with the faculty, staff and students he leads, have accomplished such amazing things because they have a vision for what Fort Lewis College can become. He sees an even brighter day tomorrow, and he’s willing to do what he needs to in order to make that vision a reality.
“I tell visiting students that this is the most exciting time I could imagine being at Fort Lewis College because we’re on the cusp of even greater things, and it’s just an exciting moment to be here.”