University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Pate, Brad (ed.) / Wisconsin engineer
Volume 110, Number 3 (April 2006)

Holton, Nate.
Task force for change,   pp. 18-19 PDF (1.0 MB)


Page 19

In order to achieve this goal, task force
members believe initiatives such as the
expansion of certificate programs and an
increase in interdepartmental courses will
be crucial. For example, a student could
take a class on energy that is broken down
into multiple sections. In one section, a
mechanical engineering view of energy
would be taught; in another, the focus
would shift to chemical engineering; and a
third section could have a sociologist dis-
cuss the effect of energy policy on social
systems.
Broadening the reach of the engineering
curriculum not only will make students
better engineers, it will make engineers
more marketable for other career paths.
"Engineering may not be commonly
thought of as an entry degree to all sorts of
other things, when in fact it should be,"
Martin says. "Engineers do develop ways
to think that are useful in most, if not all,
other disciplines."
Increasing the already strong viability of
an engineering education will go a long
way in ensuring that talented young peo-
ple continue to look at the College of
Engineering as the gateway to a fruitful
and successful career.
Besides creating a more far-reaching cur-
riculum, task force members hope to make
the engineering   student body    more
diverse.
"The principle that we would say is central
to what we're doing is that the environ-
ment and culture improve as
the college gets more diverse,"
Martin says.
Besides raising the enrollment
of women and minorities, task
force members feel that diversi-
ty can be achieved by interna-
tionalizing the college through
an array of partnerships with
other universities. Though the
competition of foreign coun-
tries weighs heavily on the
minds of many task force mem-
bers, they also know that the
rest of the world can be a valu-
able ally in their quest to
improve the college.
"We're going to be actively
seeking cooperative arrange- Listeninc
ments with universities around  Paul Sw
the world. And when I say      Taskforc
around the world, I mean around the
world," Martin says.
The College of Engineering
2010 Task Force is looking to
the future to find out what
can and must be done to
ensure that the COE remains
a world leader.
Not only can this tactic diversify the stu-
dent body and help broaden the under-
graduate experience, linking up with other
universities also may be an important way
of staying ahead of a different kind of com-
petition. As the Internet and other commu-
nication technologies become more promi-
nent, online universities such as the
University of Phoenix are turning educa-
tion into a commodity that can be sup-
plied, without overhead, at a reduced cost.
Though such decentralized universities
seemingly cannot compete with the quality
of a bricks-and-mortar institution like UW-
Madison, they are carving a niche in the
education sector and need to be taken seri-
ously, according to task force members.
In order for the College of Engineering to
implement the innovations task force
members are hoping for, it needs to keep
the bottom line in mind. Task force mem-
bers expect the amount of state and nation-
al funding for the college to stay at the
same level or decrease in the coming years.
Government money is important to the col-
lege, and the best way to lobby for addi-
tional funds seems to be through the qual-
ity of performance.
"We have to be worth the expenditure, and
hopefully at some point people will recog-
nize that expenditures here generate a rate
of return that makes sense," Martin says.
At the same time, the majority of the col-
lege's finances are derived from faculty
activity, and this type of income will con-
tinue to be important to the sustained suc-
cess of the college. While attempting to
broaden and diversify the educational
experience of the student body, the engi-
neering faculty also must continue to cre-
ate the funds necessary for the stable future
of the College of Engineering through
activities such as research.
While this certainly will be a difficult job,
the task force members also see an oppor-
tunity. Change is going to occur no matter
what, but the college can put itself in posi-
tion to control some of that inevitable
change.
"We want to have some control of our des-
tiny," Martin says. "That to us is really
motivating. But at the same time, I would
say with equal importance that this gives
us an opportunity to improve the college."
Author Bio: Nate Holton is a senior majoring
in philosphy and mechanical engineering.
Upon graduation, he plans to attend law
school.
g to a guest lecture in their Introduction to Engineering class are students from left;
anson, Eric Wojta, Garret Larson, Andrew Prell, and Richard Ruzga. The COE
e is looking to expand and diversify the engineering college experience.
wisCOnSi  n.er
APRIL 2006    19


Go up to Top of Page