Moving a great college forward

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by in Alumni, In Depth, Issues, Magazine

Dean Ian Robertson

Dean Ian Robertson. Photo: Nick Berard.

As my first opportunity as dean to reach the 45,000-plus College of Engineering alumni, let me express my great enthusiasm for the future of this college, for our profession as a whole, and for the chance to work with you.

Engineering today is at the very heart of many national and global priorities. My goal is to ensure the UW-Madison College of Engineering reaches the forefront of those priorities in its teaching and research. To accomplish this, we will be taking a hard look at our current programs and investments in the coming year, and seeking to better define our future directions.

We have four targeted areas of focus:

  • Research directions: What’s next on the national research frontier and how does the college anticipate and lead, rather than follow, the next big research thrust? In what research areas are we best positioned to establish national leadership?
  • Educational innovation: What should we teach our undergraduates so they are successful in the modern global economy? How can we help our students lead the world in innovation and entrepreneurship? How can our graduate programs better reflect the diverse goals and training needs of graduate students?
  • Private support: How can we build a stronger culture of giving among alumni and friends to protect and enhance the college’s future? How do we engage private donors in new initiatives that can be truly transformational?
  • Diversity and climate: How can we turn around the stubbornly low rates of participation in engineering of women and underrepresented groups? Have we created a welcoming and supportive environment that will help all succeed?

Where we invest future resources will depend in large part on how we answer these questions. The college clearly wants and needs to grow its ranks of faculty, for example, but we must do so in emerging areas of strategic importance. We also know that engineering education must change rapidly, with an infusion of new techniques and new technologies, to keep our graduates highly sought-after and competitive.

This spring, I have put in place working groups of students, faculty and staff who will thoroughly review these topics and provide some recommendations by fall. Over the same period, I am eager to receive your input on the future of the college, related—but not exclusive—to the topics above.

As noted below, we have created opportunities to start the conversation in person through alumni events in several cities with strong concentrations of engineering alumni. I hope you will save the date in your area and watch for formal invitations soon.

I highly value your input on these issues. As professional engineers who received your academic foundation from this campus, you have an important perspective on what skills are needed today and what educational experiences are most important to addressing those needs. You also have a major stake in preserving the quality and prestige of your alma mater. Thanks for your continued commitment to the College of Engineering and its academic departments.

I look forward to working with you.
Dean Ian Robertson

ABOUT Dean Robertson
Robertson’s research focuses on how microstructure evolves in materials exposed to extreme conditions—stress, strain rate, gaseous and chemical environments and radiation—to enhance understanding of macro-scale property changes. He is author of more than 240 research publications on materials science topics and was named fellow of ASM International in 2009.

  • 2011–2013: Director, Division of Materials Research, NSF
  • 2003–2009: Department head, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois
  • 1983-2013: Member of the University of Illinois materials science faculty

SAVE THE DATES! Upcoming alumni events
Thurs., June 6—Twin Cities

Thurs., July 18—Bay Area

Wed., August 7—Dane County

Thurs., August 15—Milwaukee

Wed., September 18—Fox Valley

Fri., October 11—Engineers’ Day

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