Dean's Message - Engineering Education and the Liberal Arts

By H. Vincent Poor
August 30, 2008

Gifts strengthen teaching and research
Innovation in energy and environment and in teaching are complementary goals

Dean of Engineering H. Vincent Poor *77A defining—and extraordinary—quality of Princeton University is its ability to combine the best aspects of a liberal arts college with those of a major research university. These ideals may seem at odds within a single institution, but the two big news stories on the next pages show how wonderful and vital the connections between research and teaching can be—how solving pressing societal problems and educating leaders go hand-in-hand.

One headline reports that international business leader Gerhard R. Andlinger ’52 has given Princeton $100 million to accelerate research on technology to solve problems associated with energy and the environment. With this gift, we will leverage our strengths (see p.40) in materials science, combustion, sensing and other areas of engineering to make better use of existing fuel supplies and develop viable alternative energy sources. We will construct a stateof- the-art laboratory, which will become a hub of interactions between engineers, scientists, industry leaders and policy experts.

For anyone interested in the societal benefits and business opportunities associated with these technological advances, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment will offer an unparalleled breadth of opportunities.

The other great piece of news on the next pages is the donation of $20 million (as part of a $25 million gift) by innovator in education Dennis J. Keller ’63 and his wife Constance Templeton Keller to support inventive ways of engaging engineers and non-engineers in harnessing the power of technology for societal benefit. The Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education supports courses that connect ideas across multiple disciplines and helps students put their knowledge into practice through public service, entrepreneurship and internships.

A common theme in these gifts is a desire to remove barriers. Politics majors working with computer scientists; physicists working with chemical engineers—solving the complex problems of today and preparing to lead for tomorrow require maximum crossfertilization of ideas. Both these exceptional gifts come not from engineers, but from alumni who majored in economics. They reflect a deep understanding of the importance of a strong engineering school as part of a liberal arts institution and as a vital means for improving lives around the world.

I am deeply grateful to Gerry Andlinger, Dennis and Connie Keller, and so many others who are advancing Princeton’s goals of solving problems and educating leaders. As you read this issue of EQuad News, I hope you will share their excitement about the work of our students, staff, faculty and alumni.

H. Vincent Poor *77
Dean