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University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
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How you can help shape the college's future

One of the college's greatest strengths is that you, our faculty and staff, take time out of your own busy schedules to engage in college efforts to grow and improve. As an illustration of that point, I and colleagues Craig Benson and Patti Brennan recently presented a college update to a standing-room-only crowd in 1610 Engineering Hall. If you missed this event, you can view it through the college Mediasite link here.

In part, that talk centered around the work of several college committees, each of which consists of dedicated faculty and staff who have helped move this work forward. Our Research Innovation Committee is identifying national or societal issues UW-Madison is uniquely positioned to address. The committee also is defining college research goals and reviewing internal funding proposals that enable the college to achieve those goals. Led by Industrial and Systems Engineering Professor Patti Brennan, the committee recently announced its first round of funded projects in response to its fall 2013 call for proposals. Read more about those proposals here, and look for a second call for proposals in March 2014.

Also related to our research efforts is a facilities study we are conducting with Flad Architects, UW-Madison Facilities Planning and Management, UW System and the Wisconsin Division of Facilities Development. The college has not updated its master facilities plan in more than 20 years, and Sharon Devenish, our new assistant dean for facilities, will be spearheading efforts to improve not only our research infrastructure, but also our educational and public spaces. If a member of the study group contacts you, I encourage you to take the time to provide your perspective.

Our Strategic Planning Committee also is moving forward with a plan that will reflect a broader college vision and address such topics as research, education, the Wisconsin Idea, our human capital, and how the college operates administratively. Your input is important in shaping this plan. In February and March 2014, the committee will be seeking feedback on the draft plan from various stakeholder groups through public forms, focus groups, online comments and small-group meetings, and I urge you to be part of those discussions. Following that process, the committee will create a revised draft by mid-April, with a final version by the end of May 2014.

At the college level, we are working with UW-Madison administration to address how to accommodate growing undergraduate enrollments and maintain our high educational quality. Currently, we are examining options for allowing our undergraduates to enter their desired engineering field earlier in their UW-Madison academic career. Later in the year, we'll begin sharing those plans with you.

As we are considering ways to better educate our students, we also have a unique opportunity to make their graduation more personal and special. For the first time, we will host a College of Engineering commencement ceremony, in which graduating engineering students at all levels can walk across the stage with their peers and be recognized for their accomplishments. That ceremony will take place Saturday, May 17, in the Kohl Center. Our tentative plans are for the doors to open at 1:45 p.m., with a reception until 2:45 and ceremony beginning at 3 p.m. I hope you will join us at the event to celebrate these students as proud UW-Madison engineering alumni.

I can't stress enough the importance of your participation in each of these activities and initiatives. With your contributions, we can develop creative solutions that will set our great college on an excellent path for the future. I have seen your pride in this college, and I'm grateful for all of your hard work on its behalf. You make a difference.  

Dean Ian Robertson
2/3/2014