The EPIC atrium is now the Robert E. Johnson Atrium in recognition and honor of Bob Johnson, dean emeritus of The William States Lee College of Engineering. The naming took place during a special ceremony in the Albert & Freeman Energy Production and Infrastructure Center on Thursday, March 17.
Every day, hundreds of students, faculty, staff and industry partners walk through Robert E. Johnson Atrium on their way to classes and labs, where important and innovative research takes place. The atrium offers space for students to interact with their professors, study with classmates and take a much-needed breather.
“Bob is a tireless networker and connector who stayed in tune with the pulse of Charlotte’s business community, responding to its needs and aspirations,” said Joan Lorden, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “It is very fitting to have this atrium named in his honor, as EPIC showcases the continued impact of his engagement efforts with the local energy industry for the college and University.”
Throughout his 25 years of dedicated service to UNC Charlotte and the Charlotte community, before stepping down as dean in 2020, Johnson was instrumental in the creation and growth of programs, facilities and research. He came to UNC Charlotte in 1994 as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science in the Lee College of Engineering, after 17 years on the faculty at the University of Illinois. He became dean of the college in 2000.
Throughout his tenure as dean, Johnson initiated a number of student success initiatives including the Engineering Leadership Academy, the Engineering Freshman Learning Community and the Industrial Solutions Lab, which provides cost-effective solutions to industry partners through state-of-the-art facilities, technical expertise, senior and graduate student educational projects and R&D and consulting with faculty.
Several research centers and academic programs were created to respond to community and industry needs, including one of the most significant programs in the history of the college, the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center, better known as EPIC. This center is advancing interdisciplinary research in energy and preparing future leaders for the energy industry.