Udpa's Update Winter 2011/2012

Designing the Engineer of Tomorrow

The College of Engineering remains committed to designing the engineer of tomorrow. But what should the blueprint look like? What attributes should we be looking for in the engineer of tomorrow?

Today's marketplace is a brutal, global marketplace full of challenging problems that are much different from the problems we were facing 20 or 50 years ago. The easy problems have already been solved; the difficult ones are left for us to tackle. In order to solve these problems, engineers need to learn a different set of skills from the ones we taught 20-plus years ago.

To ensure that the next generation of engineers will be ready to address these critical challenges, the College of Engineering is partnering with corporations such as Consumers Power and GE, the first two corporate sponsors in MSU's new Engineering Theme Partnership program. These collaborations provide opportunities for our students to brainstorm the technical solutions that will be of vital importance to the energy and transportation industries.

Each fall and spring semester, our senior capstone design teams work directly with corporate sponsors to solve real-world engineering problems. In addition, 80 freshmen from this semester's Introduction to Engineering Design course are working on projects that will assist clients through MSU's Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities; their design concepts have the potential to impact the daily lives of people in the local community and around the world. These freshmen and seniors presented their final projects during Design Day, which was held this semester on December 9.

We also believe that we have a responsibility to promote engineering as a career through K-12 curricula across the nation. For the fifth consecutive year, the College of Engineering received funding from the Motorola Solutions Foundation in support of robotics programs that inspire middle school and high school students to get involved in STEM activities. This year's $50,000 grant enables the program to expand into schools that are economically challenged and diverse.

An interim report recently issued by the President's Jobs Council calls attention to the gap that exists between the number of trained engineers in the United States and the number of engineering jobs waiting to be filled. We, along with the other top engineering schools in the country, are addressing this issue, focusing specifically on improving retention and graduation rates.

A recent Center for Michigan report cites that Michigan graduated 20 percent too few computer and math professionals and 3 percent too few engineers in 2009-10. Similarly, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder noted in a recent message that there is a critical need for more computer programming talent.

We are working deliberately and diligently to ensure that Spartan Engineers remain competitive in today's and tomorrow's global marketplace. College of Engineering graduates continue to be recruited aggressively in Michigan and around the globe and work in diverse industries and locations. In fact, The New York Times recently reported that business leaders around the globe say Michigan State University is one of the top institutions they scout for talent; MSU ranked 39 in the list of the top 150.

As always, we'd like to hear from you. Let us know your thoughts about designing the engineer of tomorrow.

We extend to you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous 2012.