A Moment with the Dean

A Moment with the Dean

A Message from the Dean

July 09, 2013

I always find Commencement a fitting end to each academic year. Our graduates – more than 1,000 who received bachelor’s degrees and more than 250 with master's degrees – were tremendously excited, and rightfully so. They have earned degrees of distinction that will open doors to meaningful careers and provide opportunities to serve industry and society. Kudos to all our graduates!

As the dust settles after a busy year, Commencement also marks a time to take stock of our activities, measure our achievements, and commence with plans for the future.

The College of Engineering strategic plan for 2012-2013 outlined three foci: learning environments, partnerships, and operations and practices. We made significant achievements in all these areas:

We enhanced learning environments by growing the multidisciplinary senior project course, adding options for team-based senior experiences, and appointing a director of interdisciplinary projects for the coming year, Dr. Lily Laiho. A highly successful end-of-year event, the Project Expo, gave all our seniors the chance to showcase their innovations to industry representatives, alumni and parents.  Mark your calendar for next year’s collegewide Expo scheduled for May 29, 2014. 

We are investing in learning environments for the future by hiring new tenure track positions in strategic areas. These include cybersecurity; clean water technologies; biomedical engineering; and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.  We’ve also received approval for an undergraduate concentration in manufacturing for mechanical engineers, two graduate certificates in systems integration engineering and space system technology, and a joint Bachelor of Arts program in liberal arts and engineering studies. 

Our ability to expand partnerships was enhanced by a strong Advancement team. Lead by assistant dean Richard LeRoy, the team includes Director of Development Amanda Oeser, Corporate Partnerships Coordinator Casey apRoberts, and Brenda Flood, administrative coordinator. We’re grateful to University Advancement for providing support for these positions.

We made it easier for corporations and friends to partner with us by expanding CP Connect, our program that fosters interdisciplinary educational projects; and we posted a project portal that makes it simple for anyone outside the university to suggest projects: ceng.calpoly.edu/partners/submit-a-project/.  Meaningful corporate-college partnerships facilitate each partner’s success.   

To develop more shared activities with our “sister” polytechnic, we recently hosted a delegation of Cal Poly Pomona engineering administrators.  Between the two schools, we account for over 10,000 engineering students!  Similarly, I am getting to know my fellow engineering deans in visits across California because I believe in cooperation over competition.  

Regarding outreach, we launched the Cal Poly Scholars program, which strengthens our ability to attract high achieving students from low-income families. We also expanded our engineering summer camp, EPIC, to three week-long sessions.  Thanks to funding provided by the President’s Office, we’re able to offer a residential component for the first time.

Finally, we have refreshed internal policies and procedures to make sure that we’re smarter about what we do, such as, but not limited to,  supporting the Teacher-Scholar model through new funds for travel and scholarship and a beneficial assign and release time policy. We also continue to refine our fiscal planning activities  to provide better transparency and resource equity across the college.

All in all, it’s been a productive year; but, as always, it’s our students who inspire us. As a college, we measure our achievements by their success. I look forward to hearing how our new graduates make their mark – and I look forward to the fall, when we welcome a new class of future engineers and innovators.

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



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