With a mission to revolutionize engineering education, Olin College of Engineering President Rick Miller, host of the upcoming Boston regional dialogue, talks about the challenges facing engineering and creating a curriculum and culture that produces graduates with the ability and self-confidence to solve big problems that cross boundaries and disciplines.
How does Olin prepare students for a career in engineering?
Our goal is to make engineering education empowering, relevant and exciting to a new generation. We’ve focused on creating a culture that supports innovation in all its dimensions.
Faculty teach in interdisciplinary teams. Students learn by doing hands-on projects in teams, in the context of real people’s problems in the real world.
How can we increase diversity in the engineering pipeline?
To help solve engineering’s “image problem” with underrepresented groups, we should concentrate on implementing big changes that make engineering study more creative, adventurous and inspiring to young people. We need to demonstrate that engineering is one of the best ways to help people and make a major difference in the world. If we can do that, we can begin to address the diversity problem.
How can gatherings like the NEF dialogues impact the nation’s future?
There is broad consensus that science- and engineering-based innovation drive economic growth and job creation. The stakes couldn’t be higher: if we can’t figure out new ways to educate technological leaders, America’s prosperity and reputation as an innovation groundbreaker could be called into question. Only through collaboration and dialogue can we form the coalitions among business, academia and government to confront this challenge. I’m optimistic we’ll succeed.