2011 - 2012 Annual Report
July 20, 2012
Dear Watson School Faculty and Staff,
First, let me say "thank you". Your extraordinary efforts ensured that we (in the Watson School) had an excellent year. Once again, our Watson Team was able to provide our students, both graduate and undergraduate, with an outstanding academic experience. The past year has once again proven that in Watson the pursuit of academic excellence is central to our mission. Each department, every academic program, did its best to excel in its mission. I truly feel that we are all a part of a team with one goal – the success of our students.
Due to your efforts, over the past year, over 600 students from Watson graduated with a BS, MS, or a PhD. We delivered approximately 40,000 hours of instruction over the past year, while at the same time our research expenditures exceeded 14 million dollars. New courses were introduced, current curriculum was reviewed and updated, and new programs were designed. In May 2012, we had our first graduates with a minor in Sustainability Engineering. Academic quality continues to be a central theme, and the SAT scores of our incoming student cohort definitely reflect this fact. We have on‐going efforts to recruit and retain the best and the brightest. Our Watson Team is working hard to recruit women and under‐represented minority students, faculty, and staff. Laboratories were upgraded, and new equipment was installed. Our faculty and staff received accolades and awards, ranging from the Chancellor's Award to recognition by their peers in academic/professional societies. Our students took part in competitions and won awards. This was an outcome of your consistent, focused hard work. Working together, our Watson Team has definitely made great strides during the past year. Let me try to concisely review some of your accomplishments.
Space and infrastructure has been a challenge for us since the inception of the Watson School. This issue has been ameliorated to a great extent over the past year, as the new Engineering and Science Building came online. A signature event of the past year was the formal opening of the new building, on November 15, 2011. Over the summer and fall of 2011, the Dean's Office, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering moved to the new Engineering and Science Building. Our associates in Computer Science, Watson Advising, and Systems Science and Industrial Engineering worked assiduously on plans to renovate and repurpose the vacated space in the Engineering Building. The plans that were developed, in concert with Physical Facilities, were an outcome of in‐depth discussions that addressed the curricular and research needs of each of our programs. Beginning in January of 2013, construction will begin on the first phase of renovation to develop new department offices and research spaces for the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering. This renovation will also create new instructional laboratories and administrative office space for the Undergraduate Advising Office and the Coordinator of Graduate Programs of the Watson School. This construction should last a year. And planning is already underway for the next phase of renovation, which could begin as early as 2014.
The Watson School officially opened the new Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) laboratory in September 2011 that is principally used by our undergraduates in ME and SSIE. This lab is indeed an outstanding addition to the Watson School and was the result of many hours of planning and coordination involving the Dean's Office, our technicians, BU's Computer Center staff, Physical Facilities, Telecommunications, and Space Management offices.
Over the past year, faculty and staff from all of the Watson School's engineering programs have been working diligently to complete ABET Self‐studies. ABET will be visiting each of these programs in the fall of 2012 as part of the reaccreditation process. In addition, this past year, the faculty and staff of the Engineering Design Division completed a self‐study of our freshmen program that was followed by a review by two superb external reviewers. This review went extremely well and a number of excellent suggestions were made to enhance our already exceptional program.
Over the past year, we had several new faculty and staff join the Watson Team. These additions to our team have been critical to our mission, from teaching through to research and service, and have spanned all our departments, our technical staff, and our administrative function(s). Over the past 12 months, you have all been very active interviewing and selecting faculty to fill the open tenure‐track faculty positions – thank you to everyone involved! We are looking forward to welcoming the new faculty to Watson in August.
Work continued in 2011‐12 to review services and enhance coordination among the Watson School's outstanding Technical Support group. This past year, we hired the Engineering and Science Building Equipment and Operations Manager, established a new coordination committee called Technician's Council, and established the Watson School Information Technology Support Team. In addition, the technical staff instituted a card system that enhances safety and prevents overcrowding in the Watson School Student Shop. I know that each one of us has been positively impacted by the actions of our superb technical team. They are indeed an excellent example of the outstanding work done by our colleagues.
It has also been a busy year for Watson's work with our international partners. Historically, while international students have been a significant part of our graduate student body, today we have a growing number of international students in our undergraduate programs too. Our 2+2 programs are beginning to mature. In the fall of 2011, the Watson School welcomed students from a new 2+2 program with Vietnam National University. Our Computer Science program strengthened its partnership with Renmin University in Beijing by extending the 2+2 program and by developing a new 3+2 Master's degree program. The first set of students from Hebei University of Technology (HUT) graduated from our 2+2 program. Over the past two years, faculty, staff and administrators have travelled to HUT (and our other international partners) with the goal of enhancing our academic relationship. These visits have been reciprocal in nature. Our faculty have taught class, received visiting faculty appointments, worked on research and scholarship, and partnered on research proposals with peers in other countries. Thanks to your efforts, we have strengthened our relationships with academic institutions in countries ranging from India, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Czech Republic, Jordan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Brazil. I am certain that there are several other academic institutions that our faculty interact with vis‐à‐vis their research and scholarship endeavors.
On July 1, 2011, the Watson School's LSAMP program began its 16th year of the program aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students who attained the Bachelor's degree. In addition, the Watson School successfully secured "NSF Bridge to the Doctorate" funding, which provides nearly $1.0 M to support 12 graduate students in STEM fields. We are proud to note that all but 2 of these 12 students are Watson School graduate students. In November 2011, in conjunction with the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, the LSAMP program hosted a nation‐wide Undergraduate Research Conference. This three day conference was attended by outstanding undergraduate students from around the country, who participate in McNair and LSAMP programs.
Our partnership with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) continues to grow. The Watson School is proud to be hosting a few of their undergraduates this summer. These students are obtaining invaluable experiences, working on research with faculty in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering. Our faculty are working with their colleagues at UMES on their accreditation related challenges. We definitely anticipate that our relationship with UMES will strengthen and grow over the next few years. This relationship is definitely of strategic importance to Watson and BU.
This past year there was a great deal of time and effort devoted to recruitment and yield. The Watson School established a very ambitious goal to enroll 200 new graduate students for the Fall 2012 semester, as part of our strategic efforts to grow our graduate programs while concurrently enhancing academic quality. This was a very large undertaking across the departments of the School and represented what can be accomplished when we all work together toward a common goal ‐ the efforts of Watson faculty and staff this year have been truly extraordinary. As of today, the Watson School is on track to exceed the ambitious graduate enrollment target set. Our recruitment efforts were assisted by resources that were provided, for example by the Graduate School, our Division of Research, assistantships from our researchers, and Clark Fellowships.
We continue to strengthen our relationships with community colleges and transfer students. The Watson School hosted the annual meeting of TYESA (the Two Year Engineering Science Association of New York State). This past year we hosted a group visit of top students from Broome Community College and faculty from the Watson School also visited BCC to speak with prospective students. In addition, our faculty traveled to several of our community college partners, and spoke to prospective students. Strengthening these relationship(s) continues to be an important goal for Watson.
2011‐2012 has been a year of extraordinary growth for research activities in the Watson School. With the move to the new building complete and the establishment of faculty labs equipped with cutting edge instrumentation complete, we are well positioned for the future. Our proposal submittals and the awards received have gone up significantly (over the previous year, as of May 31, 2012). Our research expenditures for the fiscal year 2011‐2012 surpassed 14 million. This is in spite of a nation‐wide increase in difficulty of garnering either federal or industry funds for research. With a relatively large number of patents and invention disclosures, our faculty are consistently the "top producers" on‐campus in this regard. Watson faculty continue to be prolific in their publication efforts, both in peer‐reviewed journals and at leading conferences in their respective fields.
Some other research activities of note include the substantial successes of our Energy Efficient Electronics Systems (E3S) research initiative; Binghamton's acceptance into the membership of the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P), a consortium of leading universities, national laboratories and nonprofit institutions dedicated to strengthening the cyber infrastructure of the United States; the hosting of numerous industrial partners, such as Samsung, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Mayo Clinic, Virtua Health and Analog Devices, for potential research collaborations; the successes of our colleagues in the cyber security domain; the accomplishments of WISE (or the Watson Institute for Systems Excellence) that has garnered over 2.75 million dollars in sponsored research, working with over 20 sponsors; mentoring of junior faculty; assistance with proposal preparation; facilitation of faculty proposals and manuscripts by offering proofreading services; and representation and participation at the Engineering Research Council for Associate Deans for Research for best practices. Some activities planned for fall 2012 include (i) the re‐convening of the Watson Health Care Devices group to facilitate collaborations; (ii) an exercise designed to increase the acceptance rate of Binghamton's proposals for review; and (iii) the hosting of a NSF program officer. Research and scholarship are vital to Watson, and its pursuit of academic excellence.
The Watson School has an excellent advisory board. Comprised of 14 individuals, our board has been extremely helpful in helping with strategy and advice. This is indeed a superb team that has one goal in mind, the advancement of our academic mission. Each of our departments has its own advisory board, and each one of these boards has made significant contributions. The feedback and recommendations from our student advisory committee has also been very valuable.
There has been a significant focus on community outreach. Our colleagues have made presentations at local schools and at venues such as the Rotary Club. The Watson School hosted a number of events related to developing connections with local students and teachers. These have ranged from the Engineer's Week's Saturday event hosted by Watson School student clubs and societies to the Lockheed Martin Engineering Explorers program with 40 visiting students to a visit by 60 local Math, Science, and Technology teachers. We have had visits from our school's alumni, donors, elected officials, and academicians from other universities. Over the past year, the Watson School conducted alumni events in San Jose, Albany/Schenectady (GE), and in Binghamton. In concert with overseas travel, events were held in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Hong Kong, and Mumbai.
The SPIR grant administered by the Watson School funded 44 students and 37 projects providing small and mid‐sized NYS businesses with engineering solutions to make them more competitive and promote jobs in the region. Plans are underway to increase the leverage of SPIR in 2012‐13 to make an even greater economic impact in the region. Engineering Professional Development (EPD) continued the legacy of the Annual Flight Simulation Conference while introducing new offerings including Lean Six Sigma and training for Professional Engineers. In total 8,000 training hours was provided for nearly 400 participants from 10 countries. Courses were also taught at industrial sites, for example in Wilmington, Massachusetts and Limerick, Ireland. We have been able to pilot a course that was taught using personal computer based distance education infrastructure. Our EPD Team has plans in‐place and efforts underway to build on the successes of the previous year.
Charitable support continues to grow and advance the Watson School in meaningful ways that impact our students, faculty and staff. Donations have increased by 32% this year. The newly formed Watson School Equipment Endowment now provides a base for ongoing equipment needs of the School and a valuable base for planning for the future. While many donors have impacted us this year through the establishment of new scholarships and support, of particular note is the gift from the Iberdrola USA Foundation which supports our senior design capstone efforts in energy and the environment. While major gifts can be very impactful, every donation is important and those gifts made through the Binghamton Fund to support our School add together to move us forward.
In conjunction with the Communications and Marketing Office, a comprehensive communications plan was developed for the Watson School that defines specific strategies to further support the Watson School's vision. A strategic development plan and alumni engagement plan for Watson has also been developed. These two plans dovetail with a multi‐year strategy that is focused on charitable giving.
A new initiative, which focuses on career development, will be launched this fall. Substantial ground work has been done in this regard. This initiative will enable the implementation of strategic career development strategies for our students, from freshmen through doctoral candidates, while concurrently helping with alumni engagement. Through this initiative, we will actively engage Watson School Alumni along with our industrial and academic partners to create connections and networking opportunities for Watson School students, both here in the USA and abroad. In addition, an increased focus on alumni relations will ramp up the level of which our alumni are connected to Watson and BU. This would be partially accomplished by using our alumni to assist with the mentoring of our students, having them guest lecture in our classes, and requesting their assistance with internships and subsequent placement (of our graduates).
Over the past few weeks, our departments have worked hard on proposals in response to the Graduate Growth Initiative (or GGI). Watson has submitted eight different proposals. Other current initiatives range from planning for graduate recruitment efforts for the next year to efforts that are focused on enhancing our undergraduate retention rates to donor development and charitable giving to continuing education and international collaborations. Our efforts on benchmarking are helping us to assess where we are today, where we would like to be, and how we can get there.
Forecasting models indicate that this Fall, Watson will have over 1930 undergraduates and around 730 graduate students. Our goal will be (as always) to ensure that we are able to provide an outstanding academic environment for our primary customer, the student.
I want to thank each of you for your hard work this year for the Watson School. We could not do it without you. I wish you all a productive summer and success in 2012‐2013!
As always, thank you.