Each year, the beginning of the fall semester brings a flood of students to campus, all celebrating some milestone in life — the first year away from home, matriculation into a chosen discipline, or the final semester or two before graduation. This fall marks a special milestone. Our entering first year students are the much anticipated “Engineers of 2020.”
In 2004, the National Academy of Engineering published The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. This publication made the case for institutions to anticipate and adapt to the dramatic changes that would come to the practice of engineering in order to enhance productivity and improve the quality of life around the world. This publication greatly influenced engineering education across the nation and informed many of the choices made within our College.
Our response was to look at how our College could give our students not only an education that gives them an edge in the global marketplace but also makes them valuable contributors to the solution of our many societal challenges. We found ways to encourage cross-disciplinary study, global experiences and exploration of entrepreneurial opportunities. At the center of our vision was the integration of research and education, providing research opportunities not just to graduate students but to our undergraduates as well.
As a result, a 2010 Wall Street Journal survey of top recruiters placed our college 15th in the nation for producing graduates who were well prepared for industry. Companies like IBM, Cisco and NetApp hired more NC State engineering and computer science graduates than from any other engineering college in the country, and our graduates continue to lead in the creation of new start-up companies. This steady flow of highly educated and skilled graduates from our College fuels economic growth in North Carolina and across our nation. Also, consistent with our vision, our undergraduates are now playing vital roles in our nationally recognized Engineering Research Centers addressing global challenges in sustainability, health, security and other areas.
We heard the call in 2004, implemented strategic changes, and now as the “Engineers of 2020” move through the next four years, we continue to find ways to enhance their experience and prepare them for the Grand Challenges of the 21st century and beyond.
In this issue, we have provided an overview of the “things to come” for the College — the investments we are making to continue to enhance the education we provide our students, the research we conduct to improve lives and the economy, and the outreach we conduct to ensure that the “Engineer of 2030” and beyond will be prepared for the exciting world he or she will encounter after graduation.
As always, I hope you enjoy this issue of NC State Engineering, and I thank you for your support of our College.
Louis A. Martin-Vega, Ph.D.