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Cover of the Spring 2008 issue


VOL. 34, NO. 3





A message from the dean

Dean Paul S. Peercy

Paul S. Peercy, Dean (large image)

Today’s engineers need greater scientific and technical depth than ever before. Employers not only demand increased depth within engineering fields, but also require engineers with interdisciplinary breadth. I am delighted to report that we are making good progress in our efforts to transform the College of Engineering and are meeting this challenge. We continue to update our curriculum to meet the needs of our students and the expectations of our stakeholders, and we must continue to update it as technology advances and the global economy evolves. In response to these changes, a record number of companies came to the engineering campus last year to recruit.

Engineering is increasingly global. Our goal is to educate global engineers: engineers who are globally competent and locally relevant, equipped to address problems in cultures around the world, ready to bring creative and innovative solutions to bear upon increasingly complex issues in a responsible manner.

Historically, engineering built on advances in physics and chemistry to meet the needs of society. Today, in addition to the physical sciences, engineering has expanded to encompass advances in biology and biological science: Science, engineering, and medicine are increasingly interdependent. Thanks to the incredible advances in science and engineering, the technical depth of the disciplines as well as the breadth of the profession continue to increase.

Rapid advances in science and technology require frequent updates to labs, computer hardware and software. Meanwhile, state support for UWMadison has decreased significantly, placing severe financial pressures on the college at a time of increased demand for engineers in nationwide.

We are pleased to report that in June the University of Wisconsin-System Board of Regents unanimously approved the College of Engineering plan to phase in a $700-per-semester differential tuition for engineering over the next three years. The differential tuition only applies to students who have entered a department and have a declared major in the College of Engineering. These students are typically sophomores, juniors and seniors.

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Funds from this differential tuition will help address the rising cost of engineering education and enable us to continue to provide a premier engineering education so that we can maintain our tradition of excellence. They will also allow the college to remove bottlenecks from high-demand courses to reduce the time to degree for our undergraduates. Although students in the college will pay more per semester, on average, students can reduce the time it takes to get a degree. Students will thus save money on their engineering education and enter the workforce earlier.

The funding will also allow the college to provide increased access to capabilities identified by student leaders, including: student machine shops, hands-on laboratory experiences, extracurricular educational programs, and increased professional development in such areas as teamwork, communication skills, leadership and international experiences.

I want to thank the students, faculty and staff for their help in developing this plan. Students have been engaged in differential tuition discussions since September 2006, and student engagement will continue. I especially want to thank the student leaders in the Polygon Engineering Student Council who analyzed undergraduate education in the college and assessed what is needed to improve the learning experience and increase the value of a Wisconsin engineering degree.

I also want to thank our alumni for supporting the mission and goals of the College of Engineering. The college is committed to ensuring that the differential tuition will not disenfranchise any student who wants to major in engineering. To maintain this important commitment, we will need your help to raise funds so that we can provide sufficient need-based student aid.

Paul S. Peercy, Dean

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