2014-2019 Strategic Plan
The engineering departments, school and centers of the College of Engineering at Penn State have developed robust and forwardlooking strategic plans over the past year. Since the strategic planning effort was initiated, there have been considerable developments at the University on strategic planning. A new University-wide plan is currently under development, the latest graphical representation of which is included in the appendix. There is also a desire to establish institutional priorities at the College of Engineering where focus is placed on creating new opportunities for education and research that are aligned with global challenges and mesh with University priorities. It is equally important to maintain the flexibility of supporting individual and small group initiatives as the College has done in the past.
- Excellence: We will excel in the integration of classroom theory with practice-based learning, discovery, and research.
- Innovation: We seek and embrace innovation in interdisciplinary areas that align with Penn State priorities in learning, discovery and governance of our academy.
- Diversity: We seek to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment that shows respect for different cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints.
- Ethics: We conduct our tasks ethically and with integrity while respecting our colleagues to ensure public trust.
- Collaboration: We collaborate across disciplinary boundaries to advance knowledge through our teaching and research. We will collaborate with outside stakeholders such as alumni and those working in industry and federal agencies to strengthen our research and teaching.
- Sustainability: We will improve our processes and our awareness of sustainable practices.
The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering aims to be an international leader in promoting learning and discovery to address societal challenges such as meeting energy demands, developing new devices, and manufacturing innovative designs.
To educate mechanical engineers and nuclear engineers of the highest caliber and to discover and to disseminate new findings from rigorous research that advances and improves the quality of life.
Deliver exceptional academic programs for both resident and distance students to ensure they are successful engineers with practical experience. Develop
innovative strategies for educating our highly populated undergraduate programs, including a summer program. Perform a continuous improvement of our distance degree programs in Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering. Address opportunities in our graduate programs both for MS and PhD students that would attract outstanding students.
Provide impactful solutions to societal challenges through emphasizing a balance of traditional and frontier areas in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as through the integration of these two disciplines to foster collaboration.
Provide leadership and service to our technical societies in which we impact the profession and engineering education.
Create and nurture structures and procedures that balance due process and agility, to achieve financial stability and shared governance, leading to the enhancement of the sense of community and institutional investment among staff and faculty, as well as achieving flexibility and efficiency, leading to enhanced response to ever-changing regional, national and international operational conditions.
Strategic goals in education include: i) developing innovative educational programs to meet our high enrollments; ii) fostering teamwork and communication through an E-Knowledge Commons in the Reber Building; iii) increasing opportunities for undergraduate research and global opportunities with strategic partners; and iv) strengthening our graduate programs including the expansion of our online programs. These goals will be achieved by taking the following actions:
- Develop a premier summer program for our mechanical engineering students to reduce the academic year teaching requirements and provide additional options for our students.
- Launch a fundraising campaign for constructing the E-Knowledge Commons in the Reber Building.
- Increase the size of our undergraduate research opportunities through the College initiatives beyond the existing Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Schuman and Toshiba-Westinghouse Scholar Programs in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.
- Emphasize opportunities for a semester abroad and for multi-national capstone projects.
- Evaluate increasing MS enrollments through admitting unfunded students and continue to expand our online MSME and MEngNucE degree programs.
- Expand the opportunities for recruiting highly qualified graduate students through participating in the College’s initiatives in awarding multi-year fellowships and in the graduate teaching fellowships.
Strategic goals in research include i) collaborating in interdisciplinary research priorities at Penn State through the Penn State Institute of Energy and the Environment, Institute for Natural Gas Research, Rock Ethics Institute, National Additive Manufacturing Innovative Institute, Institute for Cyberscience, Materials Research Institute as well as throughout the College of Engineering; ii) developing expertise through the 25% increase in ME faculty hires in the areas of cyberscience, multi-scale modeling, biomechanics/bioengineering devices, additive manufacturing, and robotics while continuing to maintain strengths in energy systems and instrumentation and controls; iii) collaborate in faculty co-hiring as well as joint appointments when appropriate; iv) encourage faculty to participate in the College’s innovation grants and large teams to address complex problems facing our nation by providing incentives such as course releases for participation in large proposal submissions; and v) assist faculty with
developing global research partnerships allowing the recruitment of excellent PhD candidates. These goals will be achieved by taking the following actions:
- Aggressively hire 10 new tenure-track mechanical engineering faculty and one co-funded mechanical engineering tenure-track faculty through the Institute for Natural Gas Research over the next 2-3 years. In addition, retired faculty will continue to be replaced in the Department (currently searching for two nuclear engineering faculty retirement replacements in 2014/15). In years 4-5 (2017-2019), the goal is to continue to increase the mechanical engineering faculty by two additional positions and to increase the nuclear engineering faculty by one position.
- Faculty hiring in mechanical engineering include the areas of manufacturing/materials processing, cyberscience, energy systems, multi-scale modeling, instrumentation/controls, biomechanics/bioengineering devices, and robotics.
- Submit innovation grant proposals that can lead to large proposal efforts.
- Continue to encourage graduate faculty appointments of those in other departments and in the Applied Research Lab.
- Encourage faculty to team on multi-year, center proposals through providing teaching release.
- Provide travel support to faculty and doctoral students to achieve global research partnerships.
Strategic goals in service to the technical community and society aim to increase the visibility of the Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering Programs through: i) expanding international partnerships that are effective in enhancing
education and research; ii) participating in Penn State’s Engineering Ambassador Program; iii) encouraging faculty to provide invited talks in which they also present the strengths of our department and college; and iv) encouraging faculty to take on leadership roles at Penn State and in professional organizations. The following actions support our service strategic goals:
- Continue to develop exchanges for our students to do a study abroad as well as expand multi-national teaming arrangements of the capstone projects.
- Express the excitement of engineering through the articulate Engineering Ambassadors to help educate the world on the importance of engineering, particularly those from underrepresented groups.
- Provide a common set of slides for faculty to present at invited seminars at other institutions to help give visibility to the entire department.
- Develop student, faculty and staff leaders within the Department who can take on important positions both at Penn State and in professional societies.
Strategic goals in institutional governance will aim to create organizational structures and management procedures for i) increasing the diversity of the faculty, students and staff; ii) implementing fair teaching workload policies; iii)
providing training opportunities for staff; and iv) emphasizing engineering ethics and sustainability. These goals will be achieved by taking the following actions:
- Continue efforts to increase the diversity of students through the Engineering Ambassadors, implementation of proper messaging; and of faculty and staff through strategic hiring and continued mentoring for retention.
- Develop and institute a new teaching workload policy that addresses graduate advising.
- Develop an effective student-centered advising strategy for the many students in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.
- Institute an Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Sustainability (Green Team) Committee to the Department’s operations.
- Incorporate more discussions on sustainability and ethics into the two department colloquia.
The above 21 actions for advancing the Department in education, research, governance, and service form the basis of the implementation plan that will be developed in the next phase of strategic planning.