2012 - 2013 Annual Report
August 2, 2013
It is hard to believe that a year has come and gone since I last wrote with an update on all that is going on in the Watson School. 2012-13 has been an extremely productive year. We have all been very productive, working on a wide range of initiatives and activities, which include the design and implementation of renovations in the Engineering Building to welcoming several new faculty and staff members to starting the new Career and Alumni Connections program. This year, we welcomed 576 new freshmen and transfer students, 216 new graduate students, and awarded close to 600 degrees (BS, MS, MEng, PhD). I cannot say enough about the wonderful faculty and staff that make up the Watson School and our generous friends throughout campus, across the country and around the globe. Without you, none of this would be possible and I would like to say "thank you". Your efforts do not go unnoticed – we appreciate all that you do. Your work is evident in the excellent academic experience provided to our students.
We began this year with President Stenger outlining his vision for the University and the start of the Road Map process as the campus came together to envision what we should look like as "the premier public university of the 21st century". Many of you took part in this process by actively participating on one of the nine Road Map teams. Your work was invaluable as we strive to achieve the vision set forth by President Stenger – thank you for your hard work and for your dedication to the University and the School.
Growth in our graduate programs and research and scholarship was another significant focus for us this year. Faculty and staff in each department spent a lot of time on graduate recruitment and application review – thank you to everyone who worked on this effort – we are projecting a record number of new graduate students for the Watson School in fall 2013. We were also busy this year with hiring – the Provost authorized us to hire the largest number of tenured/tenure-track faculty in the history of the Watson School. In the fall of 2013, we will have 7 new faculty members joining us, along with several lecturers. We also anticipate a few staff positions that will include an advisor in the Watson Advising Office. Thank you to everyone who participated in the hiring process from advertising the position to the search committees to bringing candidates to campus – I know how time consuming this can be and truly appreciate all that you did.
In January 2012, work began on the second phase of renovations to the Engineering Building at the center of campus. This project constructs newly renovated space for the Departments of (i) Computer Science and (ii) Systems Science and Industrial Engineering, along with (iii) new offices for the Watson Advising staff. While funding for this project was unable to cover all of the needs for these two departments, the resources obtained were sufficient to renovate much of the 3rd floor of the building and a portion of the second floor. Within the construction zone are new faculty offices, graduate student office space, main office space, and a few teaching and research laboratories.
In addition, I am delighted to tell you that after residing for five years in the basement of the Library South Complex, the Watson Advising Office has a brand new home back in the Engineering Building! These offices now occupy a prominent location both within the School and the campus, in the M Pod area of the Engineering Building, which is located just inside the entrance from the Bartle Library/Computer Center Plaza deck. This is a high profile area with a lot of pedestrian traffic. The new location is ideal for Watson Advising as it is convenient for both current students and campus visitors, such as prospective students and their parents. Since construction is significantly ahead of schedule (by approximately five months) and is on track to be completed by Labor Day, 2013, it is anticipated that the newly renovated space will be available beginning in the fall 2013 semester (Watson Advising has moved in already).
As part of our evolving space development initiatives, this past year we identified additional space within the Engineering Building for Senior Design teams, including a vehicle shop to support ASME club projects. These are located in the A pod area of the Engineering Building, the former home of Mechanical Engineering research laboratories, which relocated to the Engineering and Science Building last year.
Regarding growth in the School, we worked with the University administration to develop an enrollment strategy that increases the size of our graduate programs, while further strengthening our undergraduate programs by lowering freshman enrollment, enhancing our student retention initiatives, and bolstering the number of high caliber transfer students from other schools and colleges within Binghamton University, as well as community colleges and four-year universities around New York State.
As part of this plan, the Watson School set an ambitious goal to enroll more than 200 new graduate students for the fall 2012 semester. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of each department's graduate director, faculty, and staff, we met that goal, enrolling 216 new graduate students school-wide. Growing our graduate programs remains a priority and thanks to a variety of new marketing initiatives, Watson programs received a record number of graduate applications, a 78% increase over last year. We expect to enroll more than 250 new graduate students this fall. Some of the graduate recruitment initiatives include new communication streams for applicants, new methods and venues for advertising our programs, and representation of the School at various events, including the China Education Expo, among others. All of these activities were complemented by the superb efforts of our staff and faculty in each department across the Watson School. In addition, Watson aggressively pursued and received multiple faculty positions under the Provost's Graduate Growth Initiative, which effectively correlated faculty positions to graduate growth.
In terms of graduate recruitment, an extremely promising relationship has been developed with the Turkish Military Academy (TMA). This partnership is projected to bring 5-10 doctoral students per year to the Watson School's PhD programs, in each of the next 10 years. This innovative program will help prepare cadets (graduates of the TMA) to become faculty members at the highly selective Turkish Military Academy located in Ankara, Turkey. Funding to support these outstanding graduate students is being provided by the Turkish Military Academy.
With regard to enhancing retention efforts for undergraduate students, I am pleased to report that through collaboration with faculty in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the Watson School submitted a successful funding proposal to develop new approaches to teach calculus to engineering and computer science students. The funding comes to us through SUNY's highly competitive Innovative Instructional Technology Grant (IITG) program, which funds projects that have the promise to develop innovative approaches to education. During the summer of 2013, Dr. James Pitarresi, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will work with Dr. Laura Anderson, Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences, to develop on-line content and support materials for the Introductory Calculus Course required of all Watson undergraduate students. This new approach involves using class time to develop and solve problems, while the viewing of lectures and completing preparatory materials takes place outside of the classroom. It is expected that about 50% of Watson students will participate in these experimental courses in fall 2013.
In the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013 semesters, we assisted the undergraduate student honors societies in hosting the first annual Calc Fest tutoring sessions for first year Watson Students. These Calc Fest sessions provided peer tutoring of first year Watson students by Watson juniors and seniors for the Calculus I and Calculus II course sequence. Not only do these sessions provide first year student tutoring in math, they also help our first year students connect to upper-level students in their programs. These sessions were entirely student run and were very well attended. I wish to offer my thanks to Professors John Fillo, Harold Lewis, Ron Miles, and Hiroki Sayama, and all of the outstanding Watson students who volunteered to participate and support this exciting new academic initiative.
Ensuring that our "teaching laboratories" are continuously upgraded is an inherent part of our commitment to academic excellence. Over the past year, numerous software packages were procured and/or licenses were renewed, along with the purchase of hardware, such as computers and new electronic instrumentation. Regular enhancement of our laboratory infrastructure helps to ensure that our students work with cutting-edge hardware and software, which is critical to their learning experience.
Our faculty and staff have been working hard on new and novel academic programs. One such example is the brand new, 12-month Executive Master's program in Manhattan, by which students can receive a concentration in Health Systems engineering via either the MS in Systems Science or the MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering degree programs. This academic program currently has 32 students enrolled in it. A Letter of Intent has been submitted to SUNY to establish a new, MS in Health Systems Engineering degree program in the Watson School. A second letter of intent was submitted to SUNY to establish a new MS in Cyber Security, as well. We are very optimistic that these two new programs will advance through the required state-level processes during the 2013-14 academic year and receive official approval.
In the fall of 2012, all engineering programs hosted program evaluators from ABET, Inc., as part of the regular process of ABET re-accreditation. These visits went exceedingly well and we expect all programs will be given full reaccreditation when the ABET Commission makes its final decisions late in the summer of 2013.
This year many of our faculty, staff and students were involved in outreach activities in our community, working with local schools to provide children with a window into the world of engineering and computer science. The "Workshop on K-12 Science Education Outreach @ BU", organized by Professors Zhang and Sayama, demonstrated the many outreach activities going on in the Watson School and across campus. For Engineers Week 2013, the Watson School had close to 200 children from the surrounding community participate in a day filled with activities run by our student organizations.
The Watson School was very busy this year in regards to research related activities. Our faculty and staff were very productive with over $41 million in proposals submitted and over $11 million in research expenditures (as of June 30, 2013). In addition, the Watson School remains BU's top producer of new technology disclosures, patent applications, and issued patents. New efforts were made to support faculty in their activities from proposal writing workshops and reviews to proofreading services. In addition, an emphasis on cross-departmental collaboration was facilitated by the School's Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Ron Miles, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and reiterated through special topic lunches, including one around cyber security and another around media. While researchers in the School continue to be very successful with securing federal funding, our interaction/collaboration with industry continues to grow. For example, the Associate Dean for Research has helped facilitate several connections between faculty and United Health Services' (UHS) physicians which have already resulted in collaborative research proposals.
Also, there were many activities surrounding outreach and publicity to further the School's research efforts. A Watson School research monthly newsletter is currently being developed by a team in the Dean's Office (scheduled to start in August 2013) and a webpage was created that provides information on the labs and equipment in the Engineering & Science Building, which has already generated several inquiries from industry. Our (Watson School) faculty and staff are actively working with colleagues across campus, including our Physics Department, to relocate the campus' cleanroom (currently in Science II) to the Engineering and Science Building. This collaborative initiative serves as another example of our disposition towards collaboration, both within the Watson School and across campus.
In response to a need expressed by the Watson School's students, faculty, staff and alumni, the Watson School Career and Alumni Connections program was established in September 2012. The intent of the program is to engage Watson students in their career development efforts early, relying in part on assistance from our growing Watson School alumni base. Funded by a new student fee, the team, led by Denise Lorenzetti and Amanda Bailor, has worked on multiple activities ranging from mentoring events and internships (including international internships) to employer visits and networking events. In addition, the team has organized several alumni events at locations ranging from San Jose to Seoul. I am very grateful to all of the faculty, staff and alumni who have assisted Denise and Amanda's team in their efforts. Working collaboratively with you is vital to their success and we appreciate your support.
In addition, we are further developing our international collaborations with select universities via student, faculty and staff exchanges, industry engagements and student and alumni events. Key focus areas include South Korea, India, Israel, Jordan, Thailand, Turkey and China. Notable in this area are the trips by Dr. Bruce Murray and Dr. Mohammad Khasawneh who both taught courses at a top Indian university in January; Dr. Tim Singler and I visited highly ranked universities in Thailand. In addition, Associate Dean Miles and Associate Dean Partell had very successful visits to Turkey and Israel. Some of the prestigious institutions visited by our colleagues (from across the Watson School) include Ben Gurion University (Beer-Sheva), Tel Aviv University (Tel Aviv), Turkish Military Academy (Ankara), Middle East Technical University (Ankara), Bilkent University (Ankara), Istanbul Technical University (Istanbul), Koc University (Istanbul), Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST at Daejon, South Korea), Vishwakarma Institute of Technology (VIT at Pune, India), VIT University (Vellore, India), Manipal University (Manipal, India), the National Institute of Technology (NIT at Tiruchi, India), and Anna University (Chennai, India). Our alumni and friends are critical as we make connections with these superb academic institutions and their assistance has proven to be invaluable.
The Watson School has had many visiting scholars from international academic partners across the globe. These scholars are from a diverse group of nations and regions, for example, from Brazil, Central Asia, Israel, China, India, Italy, Jordan and Russia, among others. In addition, in November 2012, the President and Provost of the Hashemite University in Jordan visited us to explore strengthening our relationship and met with faculty and staff across campus.
Our growing, multi-faceted partnership with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) deserves a 'special mention'. Initiated few years ago, we continue to host undergraduates from UMES on our campus during the summer. We also promote active collaboration between our faculty with colleagues at UMES which includes partnerships that extend to research, including the submission of proposals. We have also actively assisted our colleagues at UMES with preparation for their ABET review (last fall). I expect that our collaboration with UMES will continue to grow and develop.
Our students are immensely benefitted by both the LSAMP program and the Bridge to the Doctorate initiative. In 2012-13, LSAMP served 78 BU STEM students, with 14 students participating in summer research who presented their research findings at the University at Buffalo 19th Annual Undergraduate Research Conference, July 11-13, 2013. Additionally, Watson faculty mentored two McNair Scholars who participated and presented their research during the summer research program. LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate served 12 graduate students – most of whom also attended and/or presented their research at conferences. Sara Mina, biomedical engineering, won first place for oral presentation in technology and engineering at the NSF Emerging Researchers Network Conference and an honorary mention for best poster at the 39th Northeast Bioengineering Conference. The first five students who went through the Bridge to the Doctorate initiative will graduate with their masters by September 2013; three will stay at BU to complete their PhD. These innovative programs are very effective in recruiting, retaining, and enhancing the number of underrepresented students in the Watson School.
With regard to Industrial Outreach, the SPIR grant administered by the Watson School funded 41 students and 38 projects, providing small and mid‐sized NYS businesses with engineering solutions to make them more competitive and promote jobs in the region. This year saw enhanced leverage of the SPIR investment as a few of our partners were able to utilize the results of their SPIR grant to successfully obtain SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) grants. Plans are underway at SUNY to broaden the regional impact of SPIR by adding additional campuses to the current three.
Engineering Professional Development (EPD) continued the legacy of the Annual Flight Simulation Conference with 75 attendees from 9 countries. In total, over 15 courses were held this year. While the majority of the courses were offered face-to-face, this year online courses were introduced. Two asynchronous courses were offered allowing participants to learn at a most convenient time for them as well as three synchronous webinar-type offerings were held that allowed real time faculty-student interaction.
Development continues to be very important to the future of the Watson School, as we raise funds for a variety of activities from the equipment endowment fund to student scholarships. Private donors continue to impact the Watson School with their support. Annual contributions have increased once again this year. While major gifts continue to carry us forward, there is significant potential to grow our annual contributions from alumni, friends, faculty and staff. The 30th Anniversary will provide an opportunity to celebrate our successes and promote the impact that each gift can have on our future.
Every gift is valuable and impacts the activities we are able to undertake. To highlight just a few:
- This year, the Iberdrola USA Foundation made a significant multi-year commitment to fund senior design projects in energy or the environment. Iberdrola CEO Bob Kump '83 was instrumental in securing this gift.
- Retired electrical engineering professor (and founding chair of the department) George Sackman and his wife Nancy Sackman, MA '92, have established a charitable gift annuity to provide a gift from their estate in support of the Watson School.
- The Parris Foundation, established by computer science alumna, Tonya Parris '92, has expanded their support of underrepresented minority students in the STEM disciplines to include support of undergraduate summer research. This gift is in addition to providing funding that allows a student to "opt out" of the federal work study program to focus on their studies and University experience.
- Stantec Consulting Services established the "Stantec Scholarship for Watson School Students" to provide support to bright students from across the Watson School.
In addition to these gifts, we have received valuable ongoing support from donors who have pledged commitments to the Watson School Equipment Endowment, our Engineers Week outreach, existing scholarships and general support. Although the Bold.Brilliant.Binghamton Campaign celebrated its conclusion in October, we will continue to steward these gifts and endeavor to raise additional funds as we have many needs on our "pathway to premier".
All of these efforts track against our Development Plan which is designed to generate the revenue that the Watson School needs today and for the future. We are working hard to build a pipeline of support for the Watson School that will position us well as we move forward.
The Watson Advisory Board continues to serve as a superb set of advisors for the Watson School. After over 13 years of service to the School, Bill Berical resigned from the Board and handed over the chairmanship to Steve Betza (Corporate Director, Lockheed Martin). Chuck Becker (Chief Scientist, GE Global Research Center at Niskayuna) also stepped down from the Board upon his retirement from GE. His colleague at GE, Gerry Trant (Global Technology Leader, Micro and Nano Structures, GE Global Research Center at Niskayuna), took over his seat. In addition, Bob Kump ʼ83, Iberdrola CEO, and Rich Brauer, McFarland Johnson CEO, joined the Board. We also receive valuable advice on a regular basis from superb friends, including Gary Kunis ʼ73.
As we embark on our 30th year as a school, we have a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the past and look to the future. Our school has definitely come a long way, since its inception 30 years ago. We owe a debt of gratitude to our founders, all 18 of them, who worked hard to ensure that the Watson School became a reality. Today, we stand on the shoulders of the school's founders, and our faculty, staff, and students who have been an integral part of the school for the past three decades.
Looking forward, I am sure that 2013-2014 will be another fun-filled, exciting year with excellent opportunities, unforeseen challenges and extremely rewarding moments. We anticipate hiring that matches (and potentially exceeds) the levels we have seen this past year. Our departments have been very active providing proposals for consideration via the 'Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence' (or TAE) process (which should enable the hiring of faculty in clusters across campus). In combination with our 'graduate growth efforts' and other initiatives, the Watson School is well positioned vis-à-vis hiring for the next year.
Each one of you is a critical and integral part of the Watson Team. I would like to thank you for your sustained hard work for Watson and for our campus. I wish each of you a very productive and refreshing summer, and success in 2013-2014!
As always, thank you.