Engineers are, and will be, critical contributors to any sustainable economic upturn. They invent, they design, they turn new ideas into marketable products.
The NAE’s 14 Grand Challenges have been broadcast across the engineering community for more than two years now. There is evidence that some of the challenges — energy, sustainability, health care and the environment — are influencing a national roadmap to economic growth and recovery. Some of these collective goals include increasing production of alternative energy, expanding broadband technology across the country, and computerizing the health care system.
As dean of a research-extensive engineering school, I am encouraged by the role of engineers in supporting sustained economic recovery in America and globally. Our progress can be anticipated and encouraged by academic research and corporate and government R&D. As I critically examine School of Engineering research activities, I believe we are doing our part to contribute to innovative discovery while educating the next cohort of engineers. Our four strategic research areas are well-aligned with the core talents of our faculty and the requirements for a recovering economy: health care, information systems, defense and national security, and energy and the environment.
The articles in this edition of Vanderbilt Engineering illustrate our research culture, which has always been one of purposeful accomplishment — focused on important problems. For instance, in the cover story you will read about advances in health care by Vanderbilt’s world-class imaging institute, as well as the engineers and physicians working with each other to make diagnostic technologies more accessible. Other articles feature an alumnus working in cybersecurity as it relates to national security and another alumnus leading the rebuilding of an engineering icon in the automotive industry.
You’ll also learn of faculty engaging in multi-institutional research that will better secure electronic medical records, plus two of our young faculty members who have won prestigious NSF-CAREER Awards for their respective research in metabolic engineering and microfluidics. You will also read about the stellar accomplishments of our students who are consistently recipients of prestigious scholarships and national recognition for their research contributions.
The School of Engineering is working tirelessly to provide opportunities for young engineers. The number of our students participating in engineering-specific study abroad programs is double the national average, and the student interest in on-campus research is very high. We equip students with knowledge and a solid set of skills so that after they leave our classrooms, our labs and our campus, they are prepared to become contributors to a sustainable economic upturn — as engineers have throughout history.