Message from Provost Carol Simpson
As I reflect on my first full year as provost, I am struck by the extraordinary level of commitment from WPI’s faculty and staff, not only to significant advances in research and scholarship, but to the continual enhancement of our signature programs. For decades, WPI has led the way in developing interdisciplinary and global educational programs, and will continue to do so. This type of undergraduate experience is crucial for the next generation of leaders, thinkers, managers, and entrepreneurs.
For examples of WPI’s commitment to interdisciplinary education, I need look no further than the increasingly diverse nature of our unique Interactive Qualifying Projects. I also look to the creation of the highly successful Interactive Media and Game Development program, which sent forth its first graduate this year and is attracting a large number of new and enthusiastic students. And I look to the new Environmental Engineering degree program, which draws on faculty from the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics, and allows students to begin solving environmental problems rather than focus on the degree requirements of a specific disciplinary major.
I am excited to report that we have increased our undergraduate offerings to include System Dynamics and Aerospace Engineering; new graduate programs include Systems Engineering, Information Technology, and Operations Design and Leadership. Additionally, this year, for the first time, WPI will offer students the option of earning the bachelor of arts degree, an enhancement to our program approved by the faculty last spring. Preparations are also under way for new cross-disciplinary programs in bioinformatics and robotics engineering, both of which are areas of high demand from industry.
WPI’s interdisciplinary emphasis is mirrored in our research activities, since, so often, solutions to important societal problems require that teams of experts from several disciplines work together. This approach is the future of research at WPI. Its success was seen this year in our record-breaking $16.5 million in externally funded research grants, many of which involve interdisciplinary teams. (Such is the case in the Center for Untethered Health Care, where faculty from three departments—Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemistry and Biochemistry—cooperate to solve critical problems in the remote monitoring of patients.)
External recognition for the quality of WPI’s faculty research and scholarship comes in many forms:
- Jennifer Wilcox, assistant professor of chemical engineering, was lauded as one of only a dozen “New Faces in Engineering of 2006” by the Engineers Week Foundation, having been nominated for this honor by the National Science Foundation.
- Wilcox also obtained a highly prestigious and competitive NSF CAREER award, as did Donald Brown, assistant professor of ECE, and Neil Heffernan, assistant professor of computer science (see article on Heffernan, page 18). These three professors brought the total number of CAREER awards to WPI faculty to an astounding 19 since 1995.
- Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering, received two of the highest honors bestowed by the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society: fellowship in the society and the 2006 Bruce Chalmers award for outstanding contributions to the science and technology of solidification science.
- Michael Sokal, professor emeritus of history, was honored with the 2006 Society for the History of Psychology’s Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to the field.
- Gretar Tryggvason, ME professor, was awarded the 2005 Computational Mechanics Award by the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers.
- David Lucht, director emeritus of WPI’s Center for Firesafety Studies, was honored by the inauguration of the “David A. Lucht Lamp of Knowledge Award” from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers for significant contributions to the advancement of higher education.
- Erwin Danneels, associate professor of management, received the 2006 Thomas P. Husted award for the best paper published in the Journal of Product Innovation Management.
- Bogdan Vernescu, mathematics professor, has been named a Member of Honor of the Romanian Academy Institute of Mathematics.
- Roberto Pietroforte, CEE associate professor, will be granted the rank of Cavaliere Ufficiale in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy, for distinguished work and exceptional service to his native country.
This small selection of the many high honors and awards that WPI’s professors have received this year underscores the quality of our faculty and of our programs. I look forward to sharing more of their successes with you in future editions of Transformations.firstname.lastname@example.org
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Last modified: Sep 28, 2006, 09:57 EDT