I was recently at a national meeting of engineering deans, and in conversations with my colleagues, it’s clear that the Great Recession and the pullback in support from state legislatures have placed created significant pressures for engineering education in the United States.
At the same time, our corporate partners have challenged us in two ways: First, to produce graduates who not only are educated in the traditional technical fundamentals, but also are knowledgeable of cultures, languages, leadership, economics, communication, and geopolitics. And second, to grow research and extension programs that are better able to translate technology from the laboratory to the marketplace.
These challenges are real—for us and for untold numbers of other businesses today. To meet them, we have been engaged in a comprehensive visioning and planning process. Our faculty, staff, and students; industrial advisory councils; and colleagues at Iowa State in other colleges and research centers have been hard at work to develop a new strategic plan and performance indicators for the College of Engineering. I’m excited by this ongoing work, by our vision to be engineers who make a difference, and by the course that it charts for the college’s future and success.
Our aspiration is nothing short of this: We will be the premier engineering program among public universities, known for our balanced commitment to land-grant values. A 21st century engineering college, employing a hybrid public-private business model, and built on the bedrock of the Morrill Act, which is as relevant today as when Abraham Lincoln affixed his signature. And we already have a start:
- Students and their families are seeing great value in a Cyclone engineering education. I expect that we’ll set another enrollment record next year. Our reach and impact are growing as we attract more students from bordering states and international markets.
- We are building new relationships with business and industry for student job placement, online curricula, and flexible intellectual property agreements for sponsored research.
- We have 30 international searches underway to hire engineering faculty over this year and next. Simply put, the faculty are the backbone of a great engineering college, and in an era when some other institutions are cutting degree programs, we are seeking to build our faculty ranks.
- Our new Engineering Venture Fund is supporting innovation in exciting areas, including the new Dean’s Research Initiatives in bioinformatics, wind power, and negative carbon economy.