First director of Student Innovation Center announced

Construction workers continue their work on the Student Innovation Center.

Annelise Wells

James Oliver, the Larry and Pam Pithan Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will be the first director of the Student Innovation Center. 

Oliver joined the Iowa State faculty in 1991 after holding positions at Michigan State University and the State University of New York, Buffalo. Since 2004, Oliver has served as director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center, and since 2003 has helped direct Iowa State’s graduate program in human computer interaction. 

Construction on the Student Innovation Center is set to be completed in 2020. According to a press release, Oliver will have a variety of roles in the leadership and overall vision of the center, including integrating academic programming, helping engagement on- and off-campus. Oliver’s full-time appointment began Jan. 1.

“I look forward to the opportunity to lead this facility and the investment it represents in Iowa State’s future,” Oliver said in a press release. “The Student Innovation Center will foster innovation in teaching and learning, research and economic development, as well as outreach and community engagement.”

Oliver earned his master’s and doctorate from Michigan State University, East Lansing, in mechanical engineering. He also earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Union College.