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The School of Engineering is in remarkable shape. Where do we go from here? 

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January 2015

The School of Engineering is in remarkable shape today: We have stunning new facilities, incredible faculty, and amazing students. Our challenge, then, is to think about where we want to be 20 years from now. I am confident that the great engineering school of the future looks different from the way we look today. But what will it look like? And how do we get there?

Over the past two months, a small group of mid-career faculty, working with Senior Associate Dean Jennifer Widom, has explored what process the school should use in planning its future. Group members sought advice broadly, deliberated energetically, and delivered their thoughtful report to the school’s executive committee just before Thanksgiving. They urged us to move forward to develop a vision for the future of the school, recommending an intensive and inclusive three-phase process within the school. The first information-gathering phase of this process starts this week.

In the next five months, a task force of mid-career faculty drawn from all units of the school, SoE staff and students, and representatives from across Stanford will seek insights from within the school and the university to help shape a vision for opportunities for the School of Engineering in the coming decades. The committee chairs will be Jennifer Widom, senior associate dean for faculty and academic affairs, and Arun Majumdar, a professor of mechanical engineering.

The group will address such topics as faculty hiring and development, research themes and centers, space and facilities, education and outreach, and how the school works with the rest of the university. The task force will also reach out to technology thought leaders in the community to understand their views on how engineers can best help address the difficult societal challenges the world will face in the future.

We have set an aggressive timeline: The task force has been asked for a draft plan for comment and evaluation by the end of May. Our goal is to make the school even better in the future than it is today. The path ahead is exciting, and I look forward to sharing more with you as our plans progress.

Persis Drell
Frederick Emmons Terman Dean
James and Anna Marie Spilker Professor in the School of Engineering
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and of Physics, Stanford University