Photo of Dr. Brad Deken

Dr. Brad Deken, Ph.D.

Chairperson and Professor
Department of Engineering and Technology
Office:  PB301

Teaches: Industrial Controls and Automation, Robotics, Power Systems, Electricity and Electronics
Research: Electromagnetic modeling, Engineering Education and Outreach
Advises: Engineering Technology- Electrical and Control Systems

I think students get a deeper learning when they are trying things out. ... While that trial and error can be frustrating, I think a deeper learning comes from that frustration.

What area do you teach?

Engineering Technology- Electrical and Control


PhD in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN (Dissertation Topic: “Permanent Magnet Synchronous Machine Representation through the use of Enhanced Field Reconstruction Techniques”)
MS in Electrical Engineering from University of Missouri- Rolla in Rolla, MO (Thesis Topic: “Optimization of Capacitor Structures for Improved Fault Tolerance and Reliability”)
BS in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Power Systems from University of Missouri- Rolla in Rolla, MO

Your philosophy of teaching:

I think students get a deeper learning when they are trying things out. In my "crazy" younger days I spent years building games, going through help files, and trying out every command that I could in programs like QBasic and Microsoft Access. Today, we have too much to learn for that to work efficiently. That's why we spend time in a classroom learning the basics, the theories, and the applications. Whether we are programming a robot or analyzing a circuit diagram, I try to give students a challenge and let them apply what they've been taught to come to a solution. While that trial and error can be frustrating, I think a deeper learning comes from that frustration.

Why did you decide to teach?

My "home" has always been in Southeast Missouri. Having grown up here, I've been given so much support from the community that I wanted to try to pay some of that back. I have also always loved learning and figuring out ways of applying that learning to something new. I also had several wonderful teachers during my education that made me appreciate the value of that career. Because of these things, education seemed to be a perfect fit. On top of this, early in my career it also gave me the flexibility to spend time with my kids. Sometimes, they'd even come to work to "help" me out. A highlight of my early exams were the "questions" provided by my toddlers!

Credentials/career path

At about age 10, I decided I want to be an electrical engineer and, surprisingly, never really changed my mind. I took all the math and physical sciences I could in my small, rural high school. Then, I went to the University of Missouri at Rolla to complete a BS and then an MS in Electrical Engineering. While there, I took the opportunity to do 3 different internships/co-ops: one at an electric power cooperative and two at different motor manufacturing facilities. These gave me a real appreciation for the applications of the material I was learning in college. Also at this time, I had an advisor that convinced me to do some undergraduate research. This gave me a glimpse into the job of a professor and the sense of satisfaction that comes from doing things that haven't been done before. This advisor ended up transferring to Purdue University and he convinced me to follow him there to work on a PhD and continue working with him on research projects. While I was in West Lafayette, I worked as an engineer for a small company that typically worked on military and government contracts. I did that for several years, but realized that teaching was a better fit for me. Fortunately, a position at SEMO opened up and here I am.

Professional Highlight

Interim Dean, College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (2018-present)

Chair, Department of Polytechnic Studies (2006-2018)

Professor, Department of Engineering & Technology (2016-present)

Associate Professor, Department of Polytechnic Studies (2012-2016)

Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial & Engineering Technology (2007-2012)


Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year
School of Polytechnic Studies Service Award
School of Polytechnic Studies Teaching Award
FIRST Technology Challenge Volunteer of the Year
FIRST LEGO League Volunteer of the Year

Organization with which you are involved

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Associated of Technology Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE)
American Society of Engineering Educators

Most Recent/Notable Published Work

Deken, Koch, Dudley “Establishing a Robotics Competition in an Underserved Region: Initial Impacts on Interest in Technology and Engineering” Journal of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering, Volume 29, No. 3, July 2013.
Deken, B.J.; Pekarek, S.; “Enhanced Field Reconstruction Method for the Efficient Analysis of Permanent Magnet Synchronous Machines,” IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion, Vol. 27, No. 3, September 2012.
Deken, B. and Cowen, C., “Development of Computer Aided Learning Software for Use in Electric Circuit Analysis,” International Transaction Journal of Engineering, Management, and Applied Sciences and Technologies, November 2011.

Best advice for students

Try to realize that college and learning in general is difficult. The time and effort required for a full-time student is the same, or sometimes even more, than what is required for a full-time job. Like that job, the effort you put in can have a huge impact on your future success. If you're constantly showing up late and not completing assignments, you may stay below the radar long enough to earn some paychecks, but you certainly wouldn't expect a promotion at work and eventually you'd find yourself without a job. College isn't all that different. You can manage to pass some classes with minimal effort, you might even get some good grades. However, its going to catch up to you eventually and you'll struggle with classes and not make it into the careers you wanted. If you want the pay off at the end, you have to put the effort in at the beginning.

Think about the future. Thing about the goals you have for yourself in 5 years, in 10 years. Then, think about what careers and/or skills could help you reach those goals. Then, as you go through college make sure the program your in is giving you the skills you need. Also, try out the careers you have in mind as much as possible! Internships are a great way to do this. At the same time, keep an open mind. You may find that what was your "dream job" in high school, is actually quite mind-numbing. At the same time, that job that's just right for you may be something you've never heard of or didn't even exist 5 years ago.


Polytechnic Building 216

Department of Engineering and Technology
One University Plaza, MS6825
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701