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ENE Memo: August 6, 2012

From the Head: 8/6

The Year Ahead: A Retrospective

Over the summer, the theme of this section of the ENE Memo has been the Year Ahead. As the summer draws to a close and we prepare for the Fall semester, it is worthwhile to look back on the issues raised and to reflect on the totality of what is before us in 2012-13 and beyond.

Challenges and Opportunities drew attention to two major constraints on our growth: the lack of senior faculty to take on leadership roles, and physical space. While we now have two named chair positions, our challenge is to find suitable candidates. Based on developments over the summer, space could remain problematic over the next few years. That said, we are limited only by our imagination in making the most of the finite resources we have already. 

Priorities in 2012-13 suggested important initiatives under each of the four goals of our Strategic Plan. Looking beyond this year, the external review of ENE conducted last year reminded us that we will need to begin working on our vision for the next phase of the emerging story of ENE. Rather than creating a whole new Strategic Plan, I proposed that we view the basic framework of the current plan – our Vision, our Mission, our Four Goals and our Espoused Values - as the ENE Strategic Compass to help us navigate the significant challenges and opportunities in higher education going forward.

A Flying Start at ASEE drew attention to honors and awards that various of our faculty and researchers received at the annual meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education and the release of the report on future directions for engineering education, Innovation with Impact, at the conference. It anticipated the first time that all the engineering departments and centers were gathered together at the conference exhibition. It also marked the release of our ENE Research Report.  

Quonset Huts for the 21st Century returned to the challenge of having sufficient physical space for ENE activities in the years ahead. As new buildings take 5-7 years from idea to occupancy, it was proposed that we have a short-term solution based on today's imaginative temporary buildings  based on used shipping containers. This would take us back to the future - to an era when temporary buildings occupied the site of Armstrong Hall of Engineering.   

Disruptive Innovations in Higher Education? asked if some of our comfortable assumptions about universities might be disrupted by the emergence of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offerings by the likes of MIT and Harvard. Since writing this piece on June 18, a number of major institutions, including Cal Tech, Duke, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins, Rice, UC San Francisco, UIUC, Washington, Virginia and several European universities, have joined one of these MOOCs, Coursera, founded by Stanford, Michigan, Princeton, and Pennsylvania, while UC Berkeley has joined the Harvard-MIT consortium, edX. Continue to watch this space.

Reform in Higher Education? This question has come to the fore in the context of widespread concern and the national debate over the rising cost of college and the mounting level of college debt (currently $1 trillion - more than all credit cards). There are some extreme views out there on this topic. A more measured and pragmatic way forward is charted in a recent NRC report on the future of research universities. It calls for a "grand bargain" that will maintain the important role of research universities to the nation but in return universities will need to partner more, be more productive and not expect to get everything they desire.  

Important Changes to Higher Education Closer to Home drew attention to a couple of new pieces of Indiana law related to higher education that could have a significant impact on our courses and programs. One put a limit on the total number of credit hours at 120 (although exemptions can be sought), and the other indicates that 30 credit hours of general education from any institution in the state should be accepted by another institution. Many of the implementation details are still being worked out, so this is something to watch in order to see what impact it will have. 

Significant Educational Changes are taking place at Purdue this year, especially in regards to first-year students. The new Core Curriculum comes into effect in Fall 2013, which means that planning and preparation for this has to happen this year. There are also going to be changes flowing from the Foundations of Excellence project that took place over the past year, aimed at improving the first-year experience for all Purdue students. The new university-wide Honors College is up and running, and the details of how this College interfaces with the College of Engineering Honors Program, including First-Year Honors, will be worked out this year. 

New Businesses Processes are being rolled out by Business Services at Purdue. Broadly these changes are aimed at making processes more automated through the use of web technology (less paperwork) and/or by giving the end user more direct access and correspondingly more personal accountability for getting work done. Two major changes that will impact ENE are in the area of travel and timekeeping. We all need to be alert to these changes in business processes, as they will mean we may have to alter our habits and adjust our implicit assumptions about how things are done.

Being Accountable for Getting Things Done highlighted the "ENE summer project" to update and to make more transparent and accessible our documented work processes. This includes safety, business office, general office procedures, graduate program and i2i learning lab. Similar to the Purdue-wide changes in business processes, one of the motivations for this summer project was to enable each of us to take more responsibility for both knowing how things are done around here and for using the appropriate process or procedure the first time to just get routine, straightforward jobs done without expecting others to help us or to do it for us.        

The ENE Research Advance continues a proud tradition of "advances" that go back to the very start of ENE. The purpose has been to gather people together to consider one or more strategic issues that will help ENE to advance towards achieving our full potential. This year there will be two advances: the first (next week) will bring faculty and other researchers together to look at strategies for how we can take our research enterprise to the next level. A second, whole-of-school advance will be held in the Spring. It will reflect on what we have (and will) achieve during the first ENE Strategic Plan (2009-14) and what we want to accomplish in our second decade (2014-2024).   

Two recurring themes across these articles are: (1) looking proactively to the future and (2) making the most of changes that are occurring in our external environment. The next five years in the College of Engineering and ENE will be marked by exciting new opportunities, and we must be prepared to grasp these with both hands and to make the most of them.  

- David

News and Information: 8/6

Workshop on Blackboard Learn

Only six months remain before Blackboard ends its support of the Vista system currently in use. After Dec. 31, 2012, all courses will need to be on Blackboard Learn.

Faculty members rebuilding courses in the new Blackboard Learn 9.1 course management system can get an assist by attending the next round of workshops covering Blackboard Learn, set for August.

Registration is encouraged. Seating is limited, especially in the Essentials sessions. Blackboard Learn workshops are available on Aug. 14-16 and Aug. 21-23.  More sessions will be available during fall semester.

For news on other initiatives from ITaP, please check the Faculty Focus site.

Calendar: 8/6

Fall 2012

  •     Aug 14 - ENE Research Advance (9:30am-3:30pm) - including Dean Jamieson presenting on major developments in the College.
  •     Aug 15 - New PhD student Orientation
  •     Aug 20 - Classes Commence
  •     Aug 23 - ENE Research Seminar, ARMS BO71, 3:30pm
  •     Sept 28 - Inaugural ENE First Year Friday (A celebration of FYE)
  •     Sept 28-29 - Alumni Weekend
  •     Sept  29 - Family Day (ENE Booth)
  •     Oct 12-14 - Homecoming Weekend (ENE Booth and i2i Learning Lab Tours)
  •     Oct 24/25 - PhD Open House (TBC)
  •     Nov 1 - 2nd Annual ENE Interdisciplinary Colloquium - "Where did I leave my chariot?"
  •     Nov 2 - Engineering Education Industrial Advisory Council (E2IAC) - Theme: Research

National or Independence Days around the World

Kudos: 8/6 David Radcliffe on his selection, with Michael Fosmire (Purdue Libraries), as a 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Best Paper Award Winner for the paper “Knowledge-enabled Engineering Design: Toward an Integrated Model.”

To suggest content for future issues of ENE Memo, contact David Radcliffe or Lisa Tally by midday Friday for the following week's issue.