Seeing 2020: Supporting A New Vision

2020-spotlightWhat will the School of Engineering be like in 2020? We see a larger, more diverse student body. More high-impact research centers and projects. And stronger partnerships with industry and national laboratories.

And we see UNM Engineering emerging as a school of national and global distinction, recognized for its leadership and advancements in science, technology, engineering, and education.

This vision supports UNM2020, a campus wide initiative led by President Robert Frank. UNM2020 challenges the University community to reinvent itself and envision a new future. Dean Catalin Roman participated in helping shape the UNM2020 vision. “This was a watershed event that redefines the way UNM is perceived by the community and amplifies the University’s impact on our state, economy, and culture,” says Roman. “It’s gratifying to see how UNM2020 embraces and reinforces our School’s aspirations related to globalization, economic impact, and academic excellence.”

Going Global

UNM Engineering is emerging as a hub of activity driving research collaboration, laboratory sharing, student exchanges, internships, and economic development on a global scale. “UNM has the ambition to become international and our School laid the foundation for making this initiative successful,” says Ramiro Jordan, Associate Dean for International Programs. “Under the leadership of Dean Roman, we are developing new programs designed to help UNM Engineering increase its role in international education, research, and economic development.” They include:

Global Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship and Technology (GINET) — envisioned to turn UNM Engineering into a hub for moving ideas out of worldwide laboratories and into the international marketplace.

International Research Portfolio Expansion — designed to promote international research collaborations by creating ways to share laboratory space, equipment, and expertise.

Global Engineering Scholars Program — proposed to encourage international student exchanges by allowing students from participating universities to earn a Bachelor’s from their home institution and a Master’s degree from UNM.

Driving Economic Growth

UNM helps power economic development for New Mexico. With 26 start-ups to its credit, UNM Engineering is a key player in that effort. To boost economic development, the school plans to double that number by 2020. It starts with research. “We don’t have start-ups, inventions, or technology transfer without research,” says Plamen Atanassov, Associate Dean for Research. The focus will be on areas that will have a longer, deeper impact on economic growth.

The faculty and an entrepreneurial culture drive economic development because they connect research and technology transfer. They also influence the next generation of engineers. So the school plans to increase the faculty size and the number of multi-investigator research awards.

Combining research faculty and industry in “technology incubators” will also fuel economic development. The early success of the Configurable Space Microsystems Innovation & Applications Center (COSMIAC) is the blueprint. COSMIAC is a space venture incubator where faculty, government laboratories, and industry collaborate to advance aerospace engineering.

Accelerating Academics

Worldwide demand for skilled engineers is accelerating exponentially. To meet the demand and give students more opportunities, UNM Engineering made changes to improve and accelerate the academic experience. “We’re working hard to make our students more successful in their academic efforts by rethinking our approach to pedagogy and advising,” says Charles Fleddermann, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

This fall, UNM Engineering started accepting all freshmen directly into the school, rather than having some start in University College. “This new approach helps students quickly identify with our school and other engineering students. They can also access our outstanding advising, mentoring, and tutoring services immediately,” says Fleddermann.

To help students stay on track with the engineering curriculum, the School plans that all freshmen enrolling from 2014 on will take Math for Engineers, a new lecture and lab covering all the math topics first-year students need to advance to sophomore level courses.

Other initiatives that will improve the student experience and success include increased participation in undergraduate research, more opportunities for industrial internships, and a new shared credit program. This program will allow students to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in five years by integrating studies between two degrees and by counting some coursework towards both.

“The School of Engineering sees UNM2020 as an opportunity to engage our faculty with the University community as a whole with the goal of building a shared future and helping UNM reach its true potential,” concludes Dean Roman.

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