Headshot of Frank Bowman

ExCEEDing Expectations

Endowed Chair Dr. Frank Bowman trains teachers in underserved communities how to apply engineering to every area of education.

Dr. Frank Bowman has been a huge asset to the University of North Dakota as an inspiring professor and chair for the College of Engineering & Mines (CEM) over the past 16 years. Bowman now holds the Thomas C. Owens Endowed Chair of Chemical Engineering, a title that was fully endowed in March of 2022. The position was named in honor of longtime CEM professor, chair and interim dean, Dr. Tom Owens.

three people in front of green background

Frank Bowman pictured with Tom and Meredith Owens.

Bowman formerly held an associate professor title in Owen’s 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 this project is to help teachers integrate culturally relevant engineering tasks into their classrooms, benefiting underserved communities in our state.

Project ExCEED launched 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.

Engineering is about addressing some sort of real-world problem and finding a solution.

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 College of Engineering & Mines has one of the highest-ranked online programs in the nation which is a big attraction 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 before retiring. Owens had many accomplishments at the university and served as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering for 23 years.

“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, their research is focusing 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.