- Timothy Wei, Dean
UNL College of Engineering
As the sole College of Engineering in the state of Nebraska, we absolutely must provide excellent engineering education, conduct high-impact research in the engineering sciences, and stay singularly focused on our service mission to the citizens and economy of our state.
For more than 100 years, this college has changed, adapted and grown to serve the citizens of not only Nebraska, but beyond these state borders. Our goal going forward is to build an engineering college for the 22nd century, strategically leveraging the infrastructure and resources in both Omaha and Lincoln, for Nebraska’s future. To be among the great engineering colleges in the U.S. and abroad, Nebraska Engineering is pursuing numerous goals and initiatives, based on several immutable principles and fundamentals.
In previous editions of this magazine, we have shared our 3 Guiding Principles—excellence in the fundamentals, unimpeachable integrity, and dynamic adaptation toward excellence—and our 5 Fundamentals: offering excellence in engineering education pedagogy and practice; providing excellence in fundamental engineering sciences research; engaging in and leading critically important multidisciplinary problem-solving teams; maintaining strong, meaningful partnerships with our constituent communities; and keeping a singular focus on our service mission, individually and as an organization.
We are applying these as we define a set of engineering education initiatives. Several aspects will particularly reshape our undergraduate education.
- Our college is undertaking a comprehensive curriculum assessment and revision to ensure the core engineering knowledge and skills needed by students in each engineering discipline are delivered effectively and efficiently, college-wide.
- We are working on a freshmen engineering tools and methodologies course to provide incoming students with instant hands-on exposure to skills including machining, electronics, etc., in Lincoln and Omaha—preparing our students for future design and laboratory courses, and engaging them in practical engineering skills and experiences early in their studies.
- Another change in our course delivery methods will be adding tele-presence classes, with state-of-the-art virtual classrooms supplementing our other course delivery methods. Deployment of the first inter-campus ‘NU View’ classroom is anticipated this fall.
We are also creating engineering leadership/professional development curricula, intended to prepare future engineers for leadership within their professions and across society. With the hiring of Karen Stelling, former VP at Burns & McDonnell, as Professor of Practice, we have formally initiated a university-industry-government collaboration in developing pilot curricula, with initial course delivery anticipated for January 2014. It is anticipated the bulk of this curriculum will be offered primarily in Omaha initially, due to the strong industry base.
And we have a long-term goal to continue to improve our graduation rates in engineering. Components include creating professional student services staff/centers—with advising, career services and student life—and hiring a cadre of Professors of Practice to teach iconic design and leadership curricula. We will bolster our engineering student learning communities throughout the college, and further develop peer mentoring and support structures.
We’re intent on building a single nurturing community around the engineering education, service and research enterprise. We’re building this community throughout the college and into our students’ lifecycles with us, which begins with recruitment coordinated across the entire college.
We also want to ensure our students have access to opportunities at all of our locations. One step in making access across campuses more consistent is our effort to provide our students in Omaha with opportunities for tickets to UNL sporting events, beginning with Husker football. Discussions have begun to initiate bus service to enable students from either campus to conveniently access the other as our curricula merit.
Our college embraces its challenge and opportunity of being one college in two cities on three campuses. We see it as a way to expand our student experience as well as the scope of our outreach and service to the state and industry.