A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean

September 13, 2012

Engineering is all about designing solutions that work with changing realities. The new strategic framework for Cal Poly Engineering models this fundamental engineering principle.

The framework is posted here. Note the college motto:

Learn by Doing, lead with innovation.

That’s who we are and what we aspire to do. Our pioneering vision for engineering education is founded in Learn by Doing with an emphasis on multidisciplinary and team-based projects, collaboration with industry and partners from across the university and around the world, and, of course, innovation.

We aim to be creative in how and what we teach so that we can open pathways for innovation for our students. After all, they will be the ones to design and build the new products and systems we need to charge the global economy and serve society.

I’m very proud that the college came together to establish the strategic framework in a short period of time. Many sectors of our Cal Poly Engineering community contributed to the effort. The strategic planning task force included a student, an alumnus, a staff member, and faculty from across the college. This group served as a filter for feedback from an even wider audience, including industry partners and the Dean’s Advisory Committee, whose members helped tighten the vision and mission statements. 

I think we now have a living document that speaks to the future and informs all our actions. It has already accelerated decisions about our operations, for instance, that will bring us in synch with the 21st century.

Perhaps the most important immediate outcome of our strategic framework has been our growing senior project class. ENGR 470-471 will give students the opportunity to undertake a team-based, inter-disciplinary senior project that is sponsored by industry and emphasizes design and innovation skills.  It is being co-taught by faculty from across the college representing many of our disciplines. 

Students taking the course will also benefit from the perspective of Noel Ellis, this year’s Raytheon Visiting Scholar. He will provide a course segment focused on the professional practice of engineering. 

Meanwhile, the college is working to create opportunities for collaborative interdisciplinary projects. An effort we have named CP Connect facilitates potential projects, makes connections with corporate sponsors and provides resources for team-based student projects.

In other words, the college has actively launched engineering education for the 21st century!

I’m excited to welcome all our new and returning students; excited to work with our dedicated faculty, staff, alumni and industry partners; excited to undertake the work that will move this exceptional college forward.

Debra Larson, Ph.D., P.E.

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