Janet Callahan

  • Professor and Dean, College of Engineering
  • PhD, Materials Science, University of Connecticut at Storrs
  • MS, Metallurgy, University of Connecticut at Storrs
  • BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Connecticut at Storrs

More about Dean Janet Callahan

Janet Callahan became the 15th dean of the College of Engineering at Michigan Technological University on July 1, 2018. In this role, she is responsible for more than 4,686 students, 178 faculty and 272 staff, 12 undergraduate, 16 masters programs, 12 PhD programs, and multiple interdisciplinary research centers and programs.

Callahan earned her degrees at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, consisting of a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, a master’s degree in metallurgy, and a doctoral degree in materials science. She went on to a postdoc position in Melbourne, Australia, and then joined Georgia Tech as a member of their materials science and engineering faculty.

A decade later, while still at Georgia Tech, Callahan co-launched a biomedical device start-up, taking a two-year hiatus from teaching in order to serve as the new company’s director of research. She worked with an Emory University cardiologist who had a vision for an improved device for brachytherapy, a type of treatment used when heart stents become narrow or blocked. Callahan relied on experiences she obtained during a college internship, working hands-on with electroplated metal coatings at the intersection of interventional cardiology and materials science. As a result, she is a strong and passionate advocate for engaging students with industry. “Through co-ops and internships, students learn actual manufacturing techniques, think about their future careers, and draw upon those experiences as they move forward.”

Callahan’s parents were instrumental in imbuing her with confidence by providing experiences to develop hands-on abilities, now innate. “In my teenage years, I worked with my father and sister to re-roof our family home and other family projects. As a younger child, I gained a strong sense of memory, strategy and mathematics playing cards for countless hours with my mother and sisters.”

Callahan joined Boise State University in 2004 to help launch its new undergraduate program in materials science and engineering. Soon after, she was appointed founding associate dean of Boise State’s College of Engineering, and remained in this position for nine years. During that time, she helped secure funding from Micron Technology to establish Boise State’s undergraduate and graduate programs in materials science and engineering, and to support the Micron Center for Materials Research.

Callahan’s research interests include oxidation of high temperature and refractory alloys; ion beam synthesis of nanomaterials; biomaterials; medical devices; brachytherapy and related materials synthesis; and combustion chemical vapor deposition. She is also active in STEM education research, studying freshmen retention, STEM teaching and learning, self-efficacy and more. Her passion for STEM education and community engagement led to her living on campus for two years as part of the Faculty in Residence at the Engineering Residential College, a living-learning community at Boise State University. Between 2010 and 2012, Callahan lived with her family in a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor, overlooking the Boise River.

At the time, the Engineering Residence College was a co-ed living-learning community, home to first-year engineering students from all engineering majors. Callahan met with the resident students every week and worked with a program assistant to develop student leadership. This resulted in community-focused projects, including an accessible ramp built for a community botanical garden, sage and bitterbrush planted in an area damaged by a wildfire, and a framed Habitat for Humanity house. Callahan remains in touch with the students.

“Here at Michigan Tech, in the College of Engineering, our mission and vision state that we will inspire students, advance knowledge, and innovate technological solutions to create a sustainable, just, and prosperous world,” notes Callahan.“Because of the challenges our world faces, and because I am at heart, a problem-solver, I am passionate about providing engineers with a world-class engineering education.”

Her approach to engineering education involves encouraging learning, and exploring knowledge—for both instructors and students. “Excellence in teaching can be learned,” says Callahan. “And excellence in learning can be taught. We owe it to our students to foster the wonder of discovery and problem solving from the moment each student sets foot on campus.”

Callahan is a lifelong member and strong supporter for Girl Scouts, USA. She is a member of SWE, the Society for Women Engineers, a volunteer for ABET, and very active in the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). She is also a member of AIChE, TMS, ASM International and ACerS. The University Connecticut at Storrs recognized Dr. Callahan’s achievements by appointing her to its Academy of Distinguished Engineers.

Research Interests

Medical Devices

  • brachytherapy and related materials synthesis
  • biomaterials
  • oxidation of high temperature and refractory alloys
  • ion beam synthesis of nanomaterials
  • thermal barrier coatings
  • chemical vapor deposition of oxides

Engineering Education

  • faculty development
  • freshmen retention
  • continuous improvement
  • STEM retention
  • K-12 partnerships