From the Dean: March 2020

Dear Purdue Engineering Community,

As we near the mid-point of the semester, there is something I’d like us to think about, but first, here are some March events that you should put on your calendars:


120th Anniversary Celebration

The School of Materials Engineering is being highlighted this month. Look for a podcast and article in later in the month.

March 5: Tami C Bond Distinguished Engineering Lecture:

“Aerosols, Climate, and Human Decisions,” ARMS Atrium 10:30 – 11:30 AM

Preceded by a panel discussion at 9:15 AM

March 10 Luncheon: Celebrating our Associate Professors

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM 

Scheduled to speak are Vaneet Aggarwal, Industrial Engineering; Tamara Kinzer-Ursem, Biomedical Engineering; and Fabio Semperlotti, Mechanical Engineering. Register here

March 16-20: Spring Break

March 27: Dean’s Office Hours: 10:00 – 11:00 AM ARMS 3000

Calendar of March events


Now there is something I’d like us to think about…

These are exciting times in the College of Engineering. More is happening right now that at any other time in my 40 years on the Purdue faculty. Growth at the undergraduate level is driving growth in faculty, staff, and facilities. As we strive to provide a better and better experience to more and more students, we also have ambitions to do more in research, on-line education, entrepreneurship, and engagement. How can we achieve our goal of being THE best example of excellence at scale? We can't scale the pinnacle of excellence by working harder – we have to be more productive. Doing this involves many factors and will take some thought and discussion, but we can start with one small step.

A 2014 study from the National Science Board, “Reducing Investigators’ Administrative Workload for Federally Funded Research,” noted that PI’s on federally sponsored research spend, on average, 42% of their time on associated administrative tasks. The report noted that this workload is interfering with the conduct of science and is substantially out of proportion to the well-justified need to ensure accountability, transparency, and safety.  Similar issues surfaced in our own 2018 COACHE survey of the College of Engineering.

What can we do? Over the years, our procedures and processes have become more complex and time-consuming. Sometimes we do things without thinking carefully about the implications on that valuable commodity, faculty time. Often times we do it for very good reasons, but over time it builds up, and we rarely go back and simplify processes or eliminate unnecessary ones. This happens at the School level, the College level, the University level, and the Federal level. Let’s begin here in the Dean’s Office. I’m asking my colleagues to identify ways that we can reduce paperwork, simplify processes, and lower the workload on faculty. We need your help too - please send me your suggestions for what the Office of the Dean of Engineering can do to reduce your administrative work.

Thanks for your help with this important matter.


Mark S. Lundstrom
Acting Dean of the College of Engineering
Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor
of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Purdue University