UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Leading and Defining Engineering Education

Frieder Seible

Over the past few months I have been working with our department chairs, UCSD administrators, Council of Advisors, and our Jacobs School leadership team to refocus our vision and growth plans for the Jacobs School of Engineering. Our aim is no less than to be one of the leading and defining engineering schools in the world—a school known for the quality of its students, its stellar research programs, and an environment that fosters innovation and leadership.

We do this at a time when engineering's very role in society is changing. Engineering is at the core of our technology-driven society. The National Science Board predicts that engineering occupations will grow at three times the rate of all other occupations. From advances in health sciences and management of the environment to national security, engineering is providing innovation in tools and processes to improve our quality of life. Indeed, engineering is the catalyst that is integrating scientific discovery and making it available to the end user. This clearly defines our mission as a leading engineering school.

Our students are our most important product, and a degree from "Jacobs" should be a prestigious distinction savored by our graduates and their employers! This requires more than the best possible training in basic science and engineering. In addition, Jacobs' graduates should be known for their ability to work in multi-disciplinary teams, their integrative thinking, and their general knowledge in information technology (IT), independent of their field of engineering. The latter attribute builds directly on the existing strength of UCSD with powerhouse information technology institutes and strong ties to the local and global telecommunications industry. All of the above will provide our students with the flexibility to adapt to the rapidly changing job market, driven by advances in communication and information technology. With all fields of engineering benefiting from ubiquitous access to data, the IT attribute will be defining and invaluable.

Our quality of life depends largely on a better understanding and management of our environment, and improvements in healthcare. It is not just an opportunity but an obligation for engineering to explore new ways in which technology can provide better monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment of medical conditions, and how we can better observe, manage, and sustain our ecological and physical environment. It is one of our declared goals to lead the life sciences with engineering solutions for medical innovation. Breakthroughs in these areas are driven by ever smaller sensors and actuators, frequently referred to as nanotechnology, and the fact that our engineering work starts with smaller and smaller building blocks (at the cell or atomic level) to develop materials with new mechanical, biological, and chemical processes. With UCSD's strength in the biological, physical, and health sciences, it is imperative for engineering at UCSD to not just contribute to, but lead this general area of nanotechnology.

With more than half of our substantial research expenditures derived from government funding sources, we have an obligation as a public research university to lead in defining the new cyber-infrastructure that will form the basis for e-government, e-commerce, and e-research, in direct support of national defense, homeland security and space exploration. The engineering role in these developments is paramount, with the application of these innovations in and for the benefit of society being the thrill of engineering as we are just experiencing it with the rover landings and deployments on Mars.

It is exactly this thrill of engineering, which stems from and leads to new innovations, that we need to re-kindle in our students to maintain our global competitiveness. We must address the increased outsourcing of high-paying technology jobs to countries with high education and low wage base. In our global free trade society, this trend can only be reversed by continued leadership in innovation and entrepreneurism. Together with UCSD's Rady School of Management, we are in a unique position to educate students who are not only creative thinkers, but also have the ability to evaluate their discoveries in the framework of the enterprise. We can and will assist them in turning their discoveries into useful and marketable products. Creativity, innovation, and teamwork are the attributes that will provide for a sustainable high-technology workforce and will form the basis for our nation's continued technological and economic leadership.

UCSD is one of the youngest, yet fastest rising research universities in the world, and engineering at UCSD has not just contributed to, but led this advancement. The success of UCSD as a leading research university has always been the fact that our research is mostly multi-disciplinary and not hampered by departmental or divisional boundaries. With the re-invention of engineering as a driving and integrative profession for society, the continued success of UCSD and the Jacobs School lies in an even stronger collaboration with our campus colleagues in medicine, oceanography and the physical and biological sciences. Only a true multi-disciplinary effort will advance science and lead UCSD to greatness.

Frieder Seible