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Expanding our national leadership in research and education

At this time of year, I'm always rather amazed at how quickly the fall semester has passed by. During the past few months, I've had the opportunity to listen to the thoughts and concerns of hundreds of alumni and to update them on the progress of plans and initiatives here in the college.

One of the most important initiatives is formulating a new strategic plan for the College of Engineering. Engineering Physics Professor and Chair Jake Blanchard is leading our Strategic Planning Committee, which has solicited input for the plan from a variety of groups throughout the college, including four primary committees that are contributing in the areas of research innovation, education innovation, equity and diversity, and computational infrastructure. You can follow the progress of each of these committees here.

In early spring, the Strategic Planning Committee will solicit feedback from key stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and industry, with the goal of completing and beginning to implement the plan by the end of the academic year. This plan will help us guide our decision-making during this period of particularly rapid change in higher education. 

On the research front, Industrial and Systems Engineering and Nursing Professor Patti Brennan and the Research Innovation Committee have been quite active. In summer 2013, the committee held two all-college meetings and conducted 15 intense reviews of all departments and key research centers. 

Guided by those discussions, the committee crafted a vision of research investments designed to stimulate multidisciplinary centers and large-scale collaborations. This vision aims to energize College of Engineering faculty and staff to advance the college's leadership in realizing engineering knowledge for the future, particularly through large-scale, interdisciplinary research centers in advanced materials, energy and sustainable infrastructures, health, and data-driven innovation.

In November 2013, the committee released a call for proposals to fund exploratory activities, efforts to prepare extramural proposals, and other opportunities to foster proposals for centers and large-scale collaborations. The committee will evaluate proposals through late December, with funding to begin in late January 2014. I am looking forward to the ideas and initiatives that emerge from these proposals.

I am grateful to members of these and all of our planning committees, who have devoted many additional hours of their time so that we as a college can move forward. I know that their efforts are a mirror of the entire college, and I recognize and appreciate the dedication and contributions of all College of Engineering faculty and staff as we work together to grow this incredible college. Thank you for your support. And during this holiday season, I wish you and your families all the best. 

Ian Robertson