Up Through the Ranks

Engineering professor to direct program

The engineering program at Smith was about to achieve liftoff, a Stanford-educated mechanical engineer became one Borjana Mikic  of three inaugural professors in the pioneering program. A decade later, with the Picker Engineering program now firmly established and housed in an exciting new science building, Professor Borjana Mikic now has the opportunity to lead it into its second decade. Mikic took over on July 1 as its new director, replacing Linda Jones, who returned to New York’s Alfred University to lead the New York State College of Ceramics, the first woman to hold that position.

Mikic, newly appointed as the Rosemary Bradford Hewlett 1940 Professor, leads a program that now enrolls more than 100 students taught by nine faculty members. A hallmark of Smith’s approach to engineering education is that it takes place within a broad liberal arts school curriculum. “The challenges facing society now and in the future require engineers with adaptable expertise who are capable of working collaboratively across disciplinary boundaries,” Mikic said. “Social and environmental responsibility are—and will continue to be—part of everything we do here at Smith.”

Mikic’s own research focuses on identifying key factors that influence biomechanical function in skeletal connective tissues. She has worked with more than thirty undergraduates, many of them through their entire Smith careers. Mikic has received numerous research grants, including a five-year $1.2 million award from the National Institutes of Health to study a feature of tendon maintenance and repair. Last year, she won a grant from the Dr. Scholl Foundation to fund the work of students evaluating the effectiveness of a particular approach to treating muscular dystrophy.

In 2007, Mikic’s work in the classroom earned her a Kathleen Compton Sherrerd ’54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching. Nationally, she has served as chair of the Liberal Education Division of the American Society for Engineering Education.

Fall ’10 SAQ