University Letter

UND's faculty and staff newsletter

Newly named endowed chair Frank Bowman trains teachers in underserved communities

Frank Bowman

Frank Bowman has been an asset to UND as a professor and chair for the College of Engineering & Mines (CEM) over the past 16 years. He now holds the Thomas C. Owens Endowed Chair of Chemical Engineering, a title that was fully endowed in March 2022 thanks to gifts from many alumni and friends of the college. The position was named in honor of longtime professor, chair and interim dean Dr. Tom Owens.

Bowman formerly held an associate professor title in Owens’ name and received allotted funds for special projects and research. With the funds, he launched Project ExCEED (Exploring Culturally Relevant Engineering Education Design), a joint research study between UND’s College of Education & Human Development and CEM, funded by the National Science Foundation. This project benefits elementary and middle school teachers who teach Native American and rural students in North Dakota. The main goal of Project ExCEED is to help teachers integrate culturally relevant engineering tasks into their classrooms, benefiting underserved communities in our state.

Project ExCEED launched in spring of 2021 with eight teachers participating in the professional development sessions. In these sessions they learned to incorporate the engineering design process into their existing curriculum. Bowman is proud of the creativity and adaptability of the teachers and hopes that students begin to see applications of engineering in relevant aspects of their lives.

“Engineering is about addressing some sort of real-world problem and finding a solution. In order to do that you need to understand the community and cultural concerns of the people involved, and that’s what we’re doing with this project,” Bowman said.

Bowman is passionate about his students and is always looking for fresh ways to help them grow. Aside from launching Project ExCEED, he’s devoted his time to developing high-quality online course materials for his classes, allowing his students to have a rich learning experience. The CEM has one of the highest ranked online programs in the nation, which is a big attraction for prospective students to the University.

Bowman is honored to hold the endowed chair position named after Owens, an influential leader within CEM who served the college for 33 years – 23 of them as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering – before retiring years ago.

“Obtaining the endowed position named after Owens is a great honor because Tom was amazing. Even in retirement, he’s still active in helping the department. As we bring in alumni, they’ll still talk about him and the great experiences they had with him as a teacher and mentor,” Bowman said. Through projects like ExCEED, Bowman is carrying on his predecessor’s influence on future generations of engineers.

Bowman is eager to follow the results of this project. At this point, his research is focused on improving teachers’ self-efficacy and their integration of culturally relevant engineering instruction. In the future he’s interested in exploring the impact of these teachers on student perceptions as a part of future iterations of the project.

— Courtesy of UND Alumni Association & Foundation