With more than 240 new graduate students joining the College of Engineering, the Howe Hall atrium was a busy place on September 2 as the Engineering Graduate Programs office sponsored a special event to welcome the new students. It was a great opportunity for these students to get to know each other and to meet faculty, staff, and members of the Graduate Student Dean’s Advisory Board (GSDAB). This board is an appointed group of students representing each academic department in the college. Balaji Narasimhan, associate dean for research and economic development, and Nancy Knight, director of graduate enrollment management, work with GSDAB to discuss issues of importance to engineering graduate students as well as seeking their advice and input.
In formal remarks, Narasimhan said that graduate students are the lifeblood of the College of Engineering and noted that the college enjoys an international reputation for being highly interdisciplinary. He also pointed out several benchmarks being achieved by the college this year: the highest funding ever in annual research expenditures, expected to exceed $70 million; being on track to set a record for the number of PhDs to graduate in a year; and more than 1,000 annual research grants awarded to engineering faculty—the first time ever that number has been exceeded. These accomplishments are evidence, Narasimhan said, that new graduate students have come to the college at a time of growth and opportunity. He also explained the 2050 Challenge, urging the audience to project themselves into the year 2050, speculating about the problems the world will face and what is needed to address those problems. Collaboration across disciplines is essential to meet the challenges of the future, he said.
Students seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time together. Wenbo Shi, IMSE, said that he came to the event to make friends and meet faculty. Xuhao Wang, CCEE, shared that he felt proud to be an engineering graduate student at Iowa State. Katrina Christiansen, a member of GSDAB and an ABE graduate student, said she values the opportunity to meet students outside of her major and outside of her class environment. As the students left, they were presented with an Engineering-GRADS (Engineering Graduate Retention through Academic Development Seminars) thermal lunch bag containing the Engineering-GRADS fall seminar schedule and a Cy stress ball.