Fall 2016 Chemical and Materials Engineering Newsletter
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
Dear Alumni, Students, Friends and Families,
This year, I feel justified in bragging on my colleagues and their long-term trend of success in both teaching and research. While our external supporters — alumni and employers — continue to provide positive feedback on the quality of our students, I had forgotten that our department is also the most productive in our college based on external funding. A quick login to our Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) revealed that our external grant dollars have exceeded the other engineering departments each year for a decade, even out-performing some research centers and institutes (including a year or two before the official ChE-MSE merger in 2009 — our electronic memories don’t reach back very far). We may be a significant stretch away from becoming like a Carnegie highest research activity institution (R1), but we have good evidence of being strong performers in our particular academic neck-o’-the-woods.
As our assistant professors continue their startup and development of research programs and course curricula, we look forward to new excitement and collaborative interests in future class offerings coming soon. Our advisory board reviewed curricula at comparable institutions last spring that revealed some ways we might improve and prepare for changing needs in the global job market, and we’ve already made some small steps in that arena. The tensions between teaching and research duties are akin to those stressors between maintaining general curricula in breadth (ChE or MSE) versus a more specified focus area in depth — number and kind of both ChE and MSE electives, e.g., biological, nuclear, etc. We must serve the college, satisfy ABET and dream to include our particular expertise as special flavors to our degree coursework.
This year’s graduating class is again larger than average. Though we all enjoy research, all of us indeed thrive on student interactions. I hope you enjoy reading the highlights of our student-centered activities. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of our programs!
— Eric Aston,