Address to the College Faculty and Staff
presented by Dean David B. Williams
November 18, 2013
Thank you for coming. This is a brief update on many of the programs we are developing and the people in the college. I wish to thank my leadership team and the Executive Committee for all they have done as we continue to raise the performance and reputation of the college. The college has been successful in opening doors for our leadership team, who are increasingly acknowledged by the university for their skills.
I particularly want to acknowledge Jennifer Cowley who, as you know, will be joining Provost Steinmetz's office as faculty fellow. I also thank Rudy Buchheit for stepping up to gain experience in leading Academic Affairs and Administration. Likewise, Dan Kramer has stepped up to be Associate VP For Research and lead the university's industry liaison office. Marie Mead has been appointed to the University Ad Hoc Committee for the Review of the University Budget Model. As our best administrators rise within this university, the College’s reputation likewise increases. Let me focus now on the specific areas of responsibility within the college.
1) Academic Affairs and Administration
We are making wonderful progress on the new CBEC (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry) building, running ahead of schedule and under budget. Over the next year we will see the interior of the building transform as it becomes ready to house our faculty, staff and students. Stuart Cooper and our advancement team continue to attract significant funds to help cover the college's commitment to make the building the best it can be.
We are continuing to plan for the future of our facilities. For example, in partnership with Arts and Sciences we are creating a plan for 19th Avenue, looking for ways to renovate and replace our aging buildings, while considering innovative interdisciplinary partnerships to effectively support research, learning, and outreach.
Faculty recruiting is well under way this year, with outstanding prospects and offers already beginning to be issued.
We plan to leverage the Discovery Themes to the greatest degree possible. I want to thank all of you who participated in the initial faculty advisory boards, preparing Discovery Theme proposals and reviewing them. You generated many big ideas and we expect that the final selected proposals will do much to advance our national role in the data analytics area.
Thank you to the executive committee who committed to focus our faculty hiring over the next two years on the Discovery Themes, starting with data analytics. Having spent many hours reviewing the 47 proposals that were just submitted, it is clear that this college and this university are blessed with extraordinary faculty, willing to reach out and partner in novel ways. While every proposal will not be successful, those groups not selected will still have the opportunity for their ideas to come to fruition through the normal hiring processes. I encourage you to continue to build on the teams you have created for this first round of Discovery Theme funding.
The next round of Discovery Themes will be coming, and we expect that you will play a major role in deciding in what areas we want to bring in new faculty colleagues. We are looking to you all to bring your big ideas forward.
Moving on to other faculty leadership, Rich Hart has agreed to lead Biomedical Engineering for a third term as we grow that department to reflect the increasing national importance of the discipline. Last year we made it a strategic priority to invest in BME and other units through cluster hires with the College of Medicine and the James Comprehensive Cancer Center. Joel Johnson is actively in transition preparing to serve as the chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, our highest ranked department, beginning this summer. Yet Joel also found time to lead a Discovery Theme proposal. Likewise Dorota Grejner-Brzezinska also took time from her new responsibilities chairing Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering to lead a discovery theme proposal. It is just splendid to see our unit leaders continuing to demonstrate their scholarly research skills in this manner. Such leading by example is both exemplary and expected.
Our faculty staff and students continue to receive awards. Let me highlight a couple:
Knowlton School Associate Professor of Architecture Ashley Schafer is one of a trio of curators selected by the U.S. Department of State to organize the exhibition of the United States Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Architectural Biennale, the foremost international venue for architecture exhibitions.
Hesham El Gamal, professor of ECE was named innovator of the year and Kinshuk Mitra, out of BME, won the student award.
Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was appointed a one-year Policy Fellow for the U.S. Congress.
Alan Luo newly hired in Materials Science and Engineering, was named Fellow of ASM International and won SAE’s Forest McFarland Award.
Distinguished University in CBE, Professor L.S. Fan received the 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) R. H. Wilhem Award.
Building on an $865,000 Community Challenge Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), faculty at the Knowlton School are creating a new food district in the Columbus neighborhood of Weinland Park.
These and many others are listed on our web site.
2) Education and Student Services
Even as we handle another record class of undergraduates, we continue to innovate. The college established a global studies office with Dr. Don Hempson and we are the first college to implement a global option to the undergraduate degree (GO ENGR). GO ENGR students will combine internationally themed courses, experiences with global dimensions, and culture or language training to enhance their global competencies and better prepare them for the practice of engineering in a global environment.
I just returned from two weeks in China and India exploring new opportunities for the college to partner and building on existing partnerships. Thank you to ECE for its 3+1+1 BS/MS partnership with Shanghai Jiao Tong and to NMSE for its dual PhD program with that same leading Chinese university. Likewise, under ECE’s leadership we are exploring the creation a joint research institute with Shaoxing University, which will be fully paid for by the City of Shaoxing. That country has high goals, is moving quickly and is willing to invest. Yet it lacks the personnel to meet its technical goals. For those who are adventurous, there are great opportunities.
We are also partnering with Chinese industry and with U.S. industries in China to open doors for our students - not just to study abroad but to work abroad through internships and job openings. To quote a GE Aviation executive in Shanghai, “The aviation industry here is about to explode. For U.S. students and professionals who are willing to move here, there are no limits to what they can do.”
So encourage your students to think about pursuing their careers abroad. We are in the process of forming an engineering advisory council in Shanghai whose members are willing to work with you and with our students to help build partnerships in that city and to mentor visitors from Ohio State Engineering.
In other areas of student support, the E-council and Career Services hosted 4,500 students and 214 employers at Expo 2013. Overall recruiting is up and back to the levels we had in 2007.
Our Gift Aid to Engineering students is up 102% over the past 5 years and surpassed $31 Million in FY13. Even on a per student basis, gift aid is up 40% over the same period to $4,400/student. Thank you to Matt McNair and his team—and to the generous alumni and industry partners who have made this possible.
We are opening opportunities for our many students to explore new degrees:
We are working with arts and sciences and business colleges on the Data Analytics major and analytics specializations in multiple areas. David Tomasko has been recognized at the highest levels of the university for making this program happen in record time. We are collaborating with Fisher College of Business on mutual areas of interest including Integrated Business and Engineering Honors program and Entrepreneurship Minor. Thanks to Phil Smith among many others for moving this forward.
We are streamlining college-wide collection of internship/co-op and placement data for our graduates.
We are altering recruitment and scholarship strategies to maintain a diverse freshman class of engineers with stricter direct enrollment criteria.
3) Diversity and Outreach
My thanks to Lisa Abrams for stepping up as interim director and doing an outstanding job. We continue to work with the university as we reconsider the role of this office and will resume the search for a nationally recognized leader in the spring.
The numbers of new enrolled first year semester/quarter women engineering students and the number of new enrolled first year semester/quarter under-represented minority students have increased every year from 2004 to 2013.
The Women in Engineering program received a $45,000 Ohio State Engagement Impact grant to assist with the mentoring of 4 all-female FIRST Lego League teams and 1 co-ed FIRST Lego League team.
The Northland High School after-school STEM club was selected as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Junior club of the year. Northland has acknowledged that Ohio State’s MEP played an instrumental part in this honor and the creation of the club.
In line with our strategic plan to create larger, more focused research centers, we launched the nation’s biggest and the world’s best Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis in September, under the leadership of Prof. David McComb, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Materials Science and Engineering. CEMAS is growing more major industry partnerships and is taking an ever-increasing role in joint research with the college of medicine and The James.
We launched the Aerospace Research Center under the direction of Professor Mo Samimy, to bring together the vast capabilities across the college in aerospace research. ARC is one voice for the dozen or more research groups that support Ohio's aerospace companies. You have probably seen the CFM 56 jet engine in the foyer of Hitchcock, donated by Snecma and GE Aviation through the leadership of Mike Benzakein. This is a reminder to those who see it how multidisciplinary an effort it is to build such a fine example of engineering.
We recently won a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center, called the Crash Imminent Safety UTC. The $4.3 million center, under the leadership of Prof. Umit Ozguner, will improve the ways humans interact with intelligent vehicles. The multidisciplinary team that won this center came from across Engineering, Arts & Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Public Policy. This was the first proposal submitted using our partnership with Battelle's Corporate Proposal Center.
Ohio State received 5 NSF Career Awards, of which 4 were in engineering: Michael Bond, CSE; Radu Teodorescu, CSE; Kannan Srinivasan CSE; and Manoj Srinivasan, MAE. I thank the chairs, Xiaodong Zhang and Ahmet Selamet and the faculty in those two units for their mentoring of this next generation of our faculty, on whom the college's success will be built.
We continue to build on our activities in manufacturing. We partnered with Edison Welding Institute and University of Michigan to propose the American Lightweight Material Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), a proposal for $70 million in federal funding, matched by more than $75 million of additional funds. We were selected as one of three finalists and are awaiting the site visit plans. We held an industry summit on our plans for a Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence in late September, hosting key technical leaders from major companies in the automotive, aerospace, and major appliance industries. We are developing pilot research projects now, aiming for a formal launch in the Spring of 2014. Manufacturing is one of our strategic cluster hires, and I thank Glenn Daehn and the chairs of ISE, MAE and MSE for their support.
Leveraging a recent $5M gift from Honda Research of America, we are in the process of setting up the Simulation Innovation and Modeling Center to become a world leader in advancing the design, manufacture, and performance simulation of advanced mobility systems. Plans are underway for a formal launch early in 2014 in close coordination with CDME.
5) Graduate Studies
Research cannot be successful without graduate students and post-docs and La’Tonia Stiner-Jones has taken on responsibility for ensuring that we attract and retain the very best. Graduate applications for engineering and architecture are up 12%, our acceptance rate is down 7% and enrollment is up 15%, which currently exceeds our strategic plan enrollment goal.
We launched the first NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program information session to help 1st and 2nd year graduate students prepare proposals and provide resources to support their proposal submission; 38% of attendees submitted a proposal.
In collaboration with the other leading research colleges, we established a university-wide post-doctoral Association Advisory Council and MOU agreement to provide post-doctoral support.
In October we launched a first-of-its-kind Recruiting Engineers Day event for prospective graduate students: 81% of attendees were U.S. citizens; 39% were under-represented minorities; and 27% were women.
6) Human Resources
The Engineering Staff Advisory Committee (ESAC) distributed a survey to gauge feelings about professional development opportunities within the College of Engineering. From the 150 respondents, we learned that 79% of staff believes that they have received sufficient training to perform the primary functions of their position.
The College of Engineering continues to be an integral partner in key initiatives led by Ohio State’s Office of Human Resources. Specifically, we have college staff playing leadership roles in the re-implementation of the university’s human resource management software and the redesign of the job classification system.
The tenure of our staff continues to shorten; over 40% of our staff has less than 5 years with the university compared to 34% in 2008, and 54% are under the age of 45 compared to 49% in 2008.
As with our faculty, an increasing number of staff is eligible to retire; 17.1% of staff is currently eligible to retire and 29.7% of our current staff is eligible to retire within the next 5 years.
As with our faculty we continue to see more diversity in the college; 43.8% of our staff is female, compared to 40.7% in 2008.
7) Professional Education
A Professional Programs website has been launched.
Our Professional Programs Office is now managing its first non-degree, online program—Certification in Creative Placemaking with CRP. A revenue sharing agreement is in place that can be used as an example and incentive to hopefully get others to participate. An MGEL proposal was approved by the graduate school and is now with CAA. Under Bob Mick's leadership we have three Fisher faculty on-board to teach the classes.
We will develop additional online professional degrees and non-credit and/or certificate programs with departments, centers, and faculty, thereby generating a revenue stream by end of FY15.
Our strategic plan to invest fully in advancement and create the best development, communication and alumni relations team is beginning to bear fruit. Matt McNair has been on the job for barely a year, and we exceeded last year's fundraising goal of $38 million by 25%; we raised $48 million! Our goal for this year is $55 million – which will be the highest ever.
We are working very closely with Research, ILO, and Corporate Relations at the Foundation to build on success of corporate partnerships because that is where the money is and that is where we are most successful.
Matt Schutte is leading the significant upgrade in the quality of our sales and marketing, our increased publicity in local and national media outlets, the fabulous new YouTube videos on our website.
We continue to have the financial resources to support our strategic plan. We continue to offer pay raises from within our budget. Our multi-year financial outlook is strong. Our investments in faculty, staff and infrastructure are focused on the revenue streams we can control and offer the highest potential return on investment – namely advancement and research.
We are fortunate to have recruited Marty Smith as our HR director to fill the vacancy left by the departure of Chase Canfield. Marty has hit the ground running and is actively engaged in human resources leadership at both the college and university level.
The College Business Operations Center continues to be a model for the university, and several of our staff are now participating in university-level workgroups, which is reflective of the success of the BOC.
In summary, we continue to evaluate our strategic plan as it evolves. We are reaching our goals and setting new ones. At the heart of it all is our faculty, who continue to win awards, raise research funding in novel ways and attract outstanding students. And none of us, faculty and administrators, could do our jobs without the extraordinary service and support of our staff who, usually behind the scenes, continue to facilitate our teaching, research and service.
Thank you to all of you.
Address to the College Faculty and Staff
presented by Dean David B. Williams
April 23, 2013
Thank you all for coming. It is good to see that our faculty, staff and administration are engaged and interested in the future of our college. It’s been a great second year for me. I am fortunate to work with a diverse and talented leadership team. I continue to be amazed by the really stunning examples of great teaching that abound in our college, by the brilliance of the cutting-edge scholarship that we exhibit across the board, and by the way everyone is committed to the community, the region and the State of Ohio, befitting our role as THE Ohio State University.
So how are we doing?
Let’s start with Undergraduate Education and Diversity.
Semester transition is over, done, complete, and successful!
We are managing through the largest enrollments in our history and graduating yet another record class in a week or two. Paid acceptances for next year are up almost 10%, minority acceptances are up by 50% and women by 10%. What an extraordinary achievement by David Tomasko and his team and the Chairs and Directors across the college.
Even during these tough times we continue to explore new educational opportunities for our students, in line with our strategic plan, including:
- Developing a new "Global Option" for undergraduate engineers
- Working on a new Data Analytics degree with Arts and Science
- Exploring a joint business-engineering degree
- Creating two new innovative programs connecting to K12: "hometown ambassadors" and "translating engineering research to K-8”
- Teaching our first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and iBook courses as part of the university’s Digital First program and our deep collaboration with Apple. Currently Jennifer Cowley’s MOOC has over 17,000 students registered.
In these times of soaring enrollment, we can raise the academic standards of our college while continuing to fulfill our land-grant mission to the State of Ohio. Balancing these two will require a major commitment to recruiting and retaining under-represented minorities. We are close to hiring a new associate dean for diversity and outreach to build on the outstanding work of Mary Juhas. Even after Mary’s departure to Bricker Hall our diversity and outreach office remains at the national and local forefront. As we have committed in our strategic plan.
- Women in Engineering (WiE) and Minority Engineering Program (MEP) managed to provide academic support for a record numbers of students.
- MEP received one of three NSBE/ExxonMobil national Impact awards.
- Northland high school STEM club swept two of three pre-college categories at a national NSBE conference.
- WiE supports the FIRST Lego League "WiE Techies" team, won the research award in a regional competition, and supports the only two all-female cohorts for Project Lead the Way at Hilliard-Davidson high school, which received national recognition during Engineers Week back in February.
- Shawna Fletcher was elected to the Board of WEPAN, continuing OSU’s representation at the highest levels of this national organization.
Jennifer Evans-Cowley continues to lead Academic Affairs and Administration, balancing multiple tasks ranging from taking legal action against the FAA, to the allocation of space (still the final frontier!). In terms of infrastructure it is a Tale of Two Cities— the best of times and the worst of times. The new CBEC building rises close to the fabulous Scott Lab. Our old buildings, while some are struggling, now at least have signage that is accurate and freshly painted and “Hi chock” Hall has finally received its missing T. Jennifer works with our outstanding group of unit leaders as, in line with our strategic plan, we grow our faculty through outstanding new hires, we fight to retain our best faculty, we find solutions to dual-career appointments, which are fast becoming the norm rather than the exception. And we tenure and promote some truly eminent young faculty. So far this year we have hired 20 new faculty members with 5 more offers pending. 35% of these hires are women or persons of color, demonstrating our commitment across the college to increasing the diversity of our faculty.
Hiring leaders is of critical importance to elevating the college. We have hired a new head of landscape architecture and are currently searching for leaders to head our cancer imaging and manufacturing clusters. Doroto Brzezinzka will step into Carloyn Merry’s shoes as chair of CEE in a few weeks and soon we will announce a new chair for ECE to take over from Rob Lee in due course.
Lastly, I note that we continue to see national and international recognition of our best faculty. In particular I wish to call out Professor Josesph Heremans for his election to the NAE, where he joins an elite group of 13 Ohio State academicians.
Managing both the financial and the personnel issues that confront the college on a daily basis requires careful and prudent planning and we are blessed with Marie Mead under whose leadership:
- We have the financial resources to support our strategic plan.
- We continue to offer annual pay raises from within our budget.
- We continue to work with the units to put together competitive start-up and retention packages.
- We continue to build our team of financial and HR professionals in the college and all our units to ensure we are providing the highest quality service to the College and University.
- The College Business Operations Center has become a model for the University for procurement and payroll processing.
- The multi-year outlook is very good, even though FY2014 may present some challenges.
I also note also that Chase Canfield, our talented HR director is leaving for pastures new in private industry in Toledo. Under Marie’s guidance we will seek a new leader who will continue to engage with the staff, through our Engineering College Advisory Council. We are blessed with outstanding members of staff without whom all the achievements I have noted would not be possible.
Graduate and Professional Studies
I wish to publicly thank Associate Dean Roberto Rojas for his years of service to the college. Roberto will be standing down at the end of June and will once again playing a prominent role in ESL and the ECE department. Under Roberto's leadership our strategic plan has made much progress:
- After many years of working the bureaucracy, the MGEL program was approved by CCAA and Graduate School and is moving on to CAA.
- We now have a Graduate Program Manager (Dr. La’Tonia Stiner-Jones) who has sped up the development of a Strategic Graduate Recruitment and Retention Plan and has increased our visibility around campus
- We have created a college task force on eLearning. This group has generated a strategic plan for adopting eLearning technologies and providing technical support for our faculty
- We have hired Bob Mick from Fisher to take the lead in implementing the MGEL and starting new certificate and professional programs
- We have seen the successful implementation of partnerships with Chinese universities. ECE students are now studying at Shanghai Jiao Tong and SJTU students are in our ECE department. A joint MSE PhD program with SJTU is almost finalized. BME is exploring a partnership with Peking University and KSA is continuing to expand its international experiences, now on three continents
- Next year in line with our strategic plan, we will be hiring a full time leader of our international partnerships.
As outlined in our strategic plan, under Randy Moses’ leadership, we continue to seek new and innovative ways to broaden our research base while building on the traditional strengths within the college. I wish to note three specific major accomplishments:
1) We signed a Master Research agreement with Honda, one of our most key strategic industrial partners. Honda recently made a major gift toward the development of a major research program in computational engineering.
2) We have assembled and built one of the world's preeminent research facilities in material characterization. The Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis, CEMAS, occupies 22,000 square feet in the TechColumbus building, and houses one of the highest concentrations of advanced instruments in any university worldwide. The CEO of FEI (the world's leader in electron microscopy instrument development) shared with us that this is the most well-designed facility he has ever seen, of the dozens worldwide that he toured. A major opening event is scheduled in the fall, and since this event is in the hands of two Scotsmen, professors McComb and Fraser, I can guarantee some fine refreshments.
3) While traditional federal sources are constant or decreasing, the federal government will still spend in excess of $3T dollars this year and so we need to find new ways to tap into their procurement streams. We are developing a comprehensive program for capturing and winning major proposals. So we are partnering with the VP of Research, and the deans of medicine, A&S, Vet Med and FAES to build a proposal development center. We have hired the first of two research business development positions—Marty Kress, who will work throughout Ohio to find where the funded research opportunities exist and to help build bridges to those opportunities for our faculty. We have formalized an arrangement in which Battelle's Corporate Proposal Writing Center will be used to incubate our own such Center. Last month we completed a proposal for a University Transportation Center to U.S. Department of Transportation using that Center, and the value of that process was very highly regarded by the faculty members who participated.
So in the areas of education, research and outreach, we are implementing our strategic plan. The plans of our individual units are well aligned with the college's plan putting us in a good position to benefit from the discovery theme investments when they are decided. Again, this has entitled a great deal of thought and discussion and I thank the whole executive committee for their commitment.
None of these amazing successes in difficult times come without concomitant challenges. They are, not surprisingly, the same issues raised in previous state of the college addresses and include:
- Balancing the undergraduate teaching needs of the College due to increased enrollment with the financial resources available to the college
- As we hire more faculty and enroll more students, we will be more space-constrained. We have prepared a master plan, but it takes a significant amount of time and financial resources to fund new buildings. Efficient utilization of space is of paramount importance—we cannot seek new space from the University unless we have shown them that we are doing all we can to make good use of the space we have.
- Our key priorities are a new building to support BME’s move to main campus, and modernize materials science and engineering in partnership with the strategic materials thrust in the College of Arts and Science
- Providing modern classrooms and teaching labs to support our students.
- We are also seeking to build a manufacturing research facility to support CAR and our manufacturing research throughout the college.
- How to continue growing our research programs in the face of very tight federal and state budgets.
- Sequestration; flat federal R&D budgets, changing focus of State research support from University-centered Third Frontier much more toward industry job growth have all led to a decrease in IDC. So as noted, we are finding new ways to support our research programs and fund our research aspirations.
Addressing these challenges
As always in these times of recession, we focus on finance. For the third time in five years the university has decided to not raise in-state tuition. We have now the third lowest tuition in the Big Ten; tuition and fees at one such institution are now more than $5k/student/year greater than ours. With over 9000 students, you can do the math on the financial challenges of remaining competitive in the Big Ten. The amazing job Marie Mead has done in managing our budget needs full recognition from everyone here. Let me stress that, while education is not a business enterprise, the business model of the college must be robust otherwise we cannot carry out our mission of education research and service
So, as we are still challenged to rise to eminence, we must be more inventive than others who have more resources, if we are to increase our college's financial strength. We must focus on both the ways in which we can cut costs and the ways we can increase the income streams over which we have influence. We have three such income streams:
Research, development, professional
So we must continue to invest in these three areas as we seek to grow the quality of the education we offer and the scholarship we perform and the outreach we make to our community and our state.
As I noted, we have hired a new director for continuing, professional education Bob Mick, who will start this month and will be charged with generating a robust income stream for those faculty who wish to participate, for this units that support such outreach and for the college which is investing strongly in it.
Matt McNair our Chief Advancement Officer is working with the leaders to develop the details of the strategic advancement plan, of the individual units and the college. These plans include hiring a new director of communications and several new development officers. We remain on track to meet our goal of $350M, even as Matt is building the very best advancement team in the nation. He has talented new development officers, and directors of stewardship and communications, Matt Schutte who is tweeting this conversation even as I speak. Our expectations of both Matts are high. The College and the Foundation are investing resources that will provide huge opportunities in advancement, and we will ensure a high return rate on this investment. Already this past year we have received gifts to endow chairs from Monte Ahuja and Bill and Susan Lhota, and we are closing in on a joint chair with the Glenn School in aerospace policy.
Most importantly, research is the largest item in the budget and the endeavor most closely tied to our scholarly achievements. It is now clear that the national research funding picture has changed, perhaps irrevocably. Traditional sources such as NSF and NIH will be at best constant and at worst reduced over the next 5-10 years. Many of our faculty continue to write proposals with less than a 10% chance of funding. We have to ask if such efforts are a wise use of time and intellectual capability. Is such continued seeking of low probability funding driven by the fact that success in winning such grants has traditionally been recognized as the sine qua non for academic recognition? Should that remain so?
Almost 75% of the several hundred billion dollars spent annually on research in the U.S. comes from industry. We pride ourselves in having the largest amount of industry funded research of any public university in the nation. So I believe we should further align our research with where the money is. Then we must also recognize that industry funding is as important and as worthy of academic recognition as traditional NSF and NIH-types of funding. So, under Randy’s leadership and that of many of our most productive researchers, we are focusing on larger, more comprehensive centers tackling high-impact research problems with strong industry support, as well as seeking both higher risk and higher return funding from non-traditional federal sources.
Honda is our major industry partner. We have a $45M endowment through the Transportation Research Center operating surpluses, which continues to help with the pipeline of new engineers and improving both our automotive-related teaching and research. Honda is a leader in hiring our graduates and supporting our research—including a recent $5M commitment to create a design simulation center. Honda has also moved its North American headquarters to Ohio and committed to $500M of new investments in the state. Honda's success affects 144,000 households in Ohio. So even stronger partnering with Honda is not just good academic and financial sense; it is also required of us by our land-grant mission. So a team of faculty with strong Honda ties are re-examining how we invest the Honda endowment, how to ensure the best return on this extraordinary commitment and how best to re-align our TRC funds with a re-aligned Honda. We have committed to a cluster hire in manufacturing, three Honda endowment-supported chairs will be open this summer and we are creating a new center for design and manufacturing excellence (CDME) driven by Honda and other Ohio manufacturers. Faculty from several departments as well as colleagues in Fisher and FAES are all involved. Note that, in line with our strategic plan, this partnership is all about energy and environment. The major issue facing automotive manufacturers is meeting the 2025 CAFE standards via green manufacturing to produce a smaller carbon footprint and increase our dependence on home-grown energy sources. So in doing this we are also well aligned with the University’s Energy and Environment Discovery Theme
Another Ohio manufacturer of note is GE Aviation, the world’s leading manufacturer of jet turbines. GE Aviation is the single largest employer of our graduates, and has almost 40 of their engineers full time on our campus, studying for higher degrees, and funding research addressing GE’s problems. GE supported President Gee as we visited Embraer in Brazil seeking another major industry partner for OSU Engineering. With this kind of commitment from GE, we are in a unique position to explore new ways for our faculty, staff and students to partner with a world-leading industry seeking to solve some of the most complex engineering problems in the world. GE is reaching out to us offering new partnerships and we have a faculty team working to come up with novel solutions to GE’s challenge. The aerospace industry, like the automotive, is focused on greater fuel efficiency via greener manufacturing for a lower carbon footprint, well aligned again with the Energy and Environment Discovery Theme.
The GE partnership is just one aspect of our leadership in aerospace, aviation and flight in which faculty from seven units within the college are all involved in the broader effort focusing on the creation of a new and very broad based aerospace research center
On our own campus, the university, the state and the federal government have invested more in our medical center than anywhere else. So we need to reach out and bring engineering solutions to crucial medical problems. One area where we are well positioned is in neuroscience. In spinal surgery, neuro-stimulation and brain imaging, we can help solve some of the nation's and the world's most pressing health issues from Alzheimer's to lower back pain. Faculty from five units are all involved in growing this partnership into what might be the major source of funding for research in the near future. Here we are firmly supporting the health and wellness discovery theme. There are many more such collaborations across this one university that I do not have time to address.
So we recognize the ways the world is changing: the need to embrace electronic education, the need to value industry partnerships even more and the need to expand the diversity of everything that we do. In this changing world we have to constantly re-examine how we perform our education and research mission. So allow me to end by asking a few pertinent questions:
Should we continue to set exactly the same expectations for our younger faculty as those that had to be met by faculty of my generation?
Is the only route to academic research success the traditional measures such as single-investigator grants, single-author papers and first-author papers?
Are such traditional measures compatible with increasing evidence that solutions to the world’s major problems are rarely, if ever, found in the work of a single investigator or published in a single-author paper?
Is the tenure track the only route to success in the academy? Are we missing out on those in this generation of young engineers who regard the prospect of a lifetime appointment as the very antithesis of their goals in life?
While we continue to hire the very best professors, should we explore other options such as short-term contracts for bright young academicians who do not wish to leap on the tenure treadmill, for whom we can set different teaching and/or scholarship goals and whom we expect to move on within several years?
In today’s world we educate and we advise our students electronically and our students can be anywhere (and increasingly are). In today’s world we partner with the very best faculty and research colleagues anywhere the world. So is the Columbus campus the only place for an Ohio State professor to work full time?
Can we envisage hiring professors who work at the best place in the world to develop their particular area of scholarship, yet continue to teach and advise their students from a distance?
If such a place is Battelle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Shanghai Jiao Tong University or GE Aviation, should we insist that all our professors still spend the bulk of their time around the intersection of Neil and 19th Avenue?
We are in a world where engineering technology changes fundamentally over the time period of a traditional assistant professorship, where the best scholars are anywhere in the world and where educational content is available anywhere. I propose that we explore our hiring practices, our tenure and promotion criteria and our expectations of academic performance to reflect the world in which our new professors will be living, not the world in which my generation established our scholarly and teaching credentials. I challenge the college to lead the way to eminence by changing the definitions of success of engineering in the 21st century. Time and change may surely show… that if we don’t like change, we might need to learn to enjoy irrelevance!