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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Oct. 6, 2006

Regents toast wine institute, software engineering degree

by Anne Krapfl

Iowa State's proposal for a Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute received the go-ahead from the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, Sept. 27. The institute will be in the College of Agriculture and focus on research, teaching and outreach that support the Midwest's evolving grape and wine industry.

The institute's director is Murli Dharmadikari, who was hired in 2005 as ISU's extension enologist (a specialist in wine making).

"This institute is a response to the industry," said Gerald Miller, associate dean in the College of Agriculture for extension and outreach programs. He said an institute provides visibility and an entry point for growers and wine makers looking for help.

The Iowa Grape and Wine Commission (under the state department of agriculture and land stewardship) is the largest funder of the institute in its first three years. Other funding sources are ISU Extension, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and a private three-year gift.

Among the institute's proposed initiatives are:

  • Develop a wine quality award program that is a tool for both wine makers and drinkers
  • Conduct research to develop new cold-hardy grape varieties that thrive in the Midwest
  • Conduct research in enology
  • Establish an outreach program to the industry by training a team of specialists (following the extension model)
  • Partner with community colleges to develop job training programs specific to growing grapes and making wine

Software engineering degree

The regents also approved a new B.S. degree in software engineering at Iowa State, which will be jointly administered by the departments of computer science (LAS college) and electrical and computer engineering (Engineering college). Students in the degree program will learn engineering aspects for developing, analyzing and evolving complex software. The degree program, in part, responds to a call from two key professional organizations, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the Association for Computing Machinery, for more software engineering programs nationally.

"We will be a major player in this key emerging, interdisciplinary field," said interim provost Susan Carlson in introducing the degree. "There is a clear need in this field for an integrated curriculum of high quality, and we have the faculty and facilities to support a strong program."

Education for employees

The board's human resources committee asked an inter-institutional work group to develop another proposal for an employee tuition assistance program that would be "enterprise-wide but implemented to each university's best ability," according to regent Rose Vasquez. The committee had proposed basic requirements for school-specific programs that included reimbursement for up to four credit hours per semester, per employee.

Regent Teresa Wahlert said the proposal was "very disappointing."

"We're in the business of education and we can't do any better than that?" she asked. She encouraged a proposal that would allow case-by-case decisions and "puts accountability on the employee and the employer."


In other business, the regents:

  • Gave ISU permission to select an architect and begin project planning for a new facility for the department of agricultural and biosystems engineering, the Office of Biorenewable Programs and the Engineering Policy and Leadership Institute. The anticipated $63 million cost would be covered by private gifts ($12 million) and a combination of state appropriations and academic building bonds ($51 million). The project is in the regents' proposed construction plans for three years beginning in FY 2010.
  • Gave ISU permission to hire a construction management firm to coordinate proposed improvements and additions to Hilton Coliseum and Jack Trice Stadium.
  • Gave ISU permission to purchase a local electrode atom probe (LEAP) microscope for use by the departments of chemical and biological engineering; materials science and engineering; mechanical engineering and chemistry, and the Institute for Combinatorial Discovery. The $1.6 million price tag will be covered by a grant from the Keck Foundation.


"There is a clear need in this field for an integrated curriculum of high quality, and we have the faculty and facilities to support a strong program."

interim provost Susan Carlson