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[2011 GEDC Conference Special] New Dean Mentoring

OCT . 25 2011

Peking University, Oct. 22, 2011: “New Dean Mentoring”, Session D of Global Engineering Deans Council Conference (GEDC), was held on the afternoon of October 22 at Peking University. Co-chaired by Sarah Rajala, David Munson and Diego Hernandez, deans from worldwide engineering education institutes engaged in the discussion on strategies for success management.

Sarah Rajala, Dean of School of Engineering at Missisipi State University, initiated the session with an opening speech. She firstly welcomed all attendees of 2011 GEDC Conference in Beijing and briefly introduced the session and the three key speakers. The theme of this session was strategies for new leaders in engineering education.

Then Diego Hernadez Losada, Dean of the School of Engineering at National University of Colombia, presented his experience as a new dean, introducing financial and essential organizational activities of his school, which were centered around a core message "commitment to excellence". He put emphasis on “internationalization” of the engineering education and leadership.


Diego Hernadez Losada answering questions from the audience


The second speaker David C. Munson, Dean of College of Engineering at the University of Michigan, gave a comprehensive and informative speech on his perception of being an effective new dean. By using his own experience as examples, in a humorous and logical manner, he explained the ways of dealing with the faculty, staff, students and fundraising.



David C. Munson shared his experience


The third speaker, Sarah Rajala shared her experience on strategic planning and educational program assessment. She explained the accreditation system in the US and gave suggestions on how to conduct strategic planning.

The atmosphere of the session was active, especially the Q&A part. “The exchange of ideas and insights between deans of engineering worldwide is what this conference matters most.” Sarah Rajala told our reporter after the session was over. “As a dean, a manager, my job is not teaching, but participating in technical conferences in different cities and countries in globalization.” David Munson added. The important thing is, they need to know what is going on in this world and promote cooperation with their partners around the world to make a better future for engineering education.



Interview with co-chair Sarah Rajala


Q: How do you feel about the role of engineers in this globalized world?
A: Many issues such as clean water and energy are global issues, which require engineers to understand and deal with these problems with a global vision. Also in today’s multi-national companies, you need to work with colleagues from different backgrounds. The products engineers design need to hit the global market to be a success. So I feel that the requirement to be a good engineer has been raised with globalization, and engineers are faced with more difficulties than before.


Q: Can you compare the role of scientists and engineers today?
A: Scientists pursue the truth out of their curiosity of nature, while engineers are needed to apply the basic knowledge to tackle practical problems. Engineers also need a good mastery of basics to do a good job so in many cases, scientists and engineers need to work together. I do believe there’s a spectrum, one end of which is pure research while the other end manufacturing. But both scientists and engineers are important, and we need both.


Q: As a dean of school of engineering, do you need to get in contact with government a lot?
A: Not that often. The most common thing you need to work out with government is when you ask for grants, from such as federal government, Natural Science Foundation and Department of Energy in the United States, as you know.


Q: Do you think it’s a good idea that government has more officials with engineering backgrounds?
A: Yes, I do. You see, in United States we have far too few people working in the government that can understand the complexity of many science and technology issues. It’s best that some of the engineers can also take an interest in public policy.


Written by: Dong Zhiyao
Edited by: Li Xiaomeng, Chen Long