From the Dean
Engineering at Duke is special. The Pratt School of Engineering is the fastest growing School at Duke and an infectious spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration is catching on everywhere you look. On a walk through the dazzling 322,000 square foot Fitzpatrick Center, you are likely to find faculty and students from Duke’s top-rated Biomedical Engineering Department, the Department of Biology and Duke’s renowned Medical School sharing an open laboratory with no dividers. Such diverse teams are inventing tissue-engineering solutions for arthritis in the Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Material Systems (CBIMMS) and have even explained why the famed DNA double helix takes its characteristic shape. CBIMMS is just one of nine major centers leading the nation in research ranging from photonics to environmental nanotechnology and the emerging field of metamaterials (think cloaking devices as in Star Trek).
In other labs, you may find students—both undergraduate and graduate—using the same state-of-the-art scanning electron microscope used in faculty projects for their own research! Across the quad in our new “hatchery,“ teams of engineering students work with students from business and arts and sciences to turn ideas into products that benefit society. For example, ideas for an optical cancer diagnostic tool became a company called Oncoscope, and won business development money from the Duke StartUp Challenge in 2007. Another student-driven company called ImaGyn won a social entrepreneurship competition called CUREs to equip clinicians in the developing world with an affordable and effective technology in the fight against cervical cancer.
And engineering students who go home at night to The Home Depot Smart Home can partner with students from the School of Nursing on research into the use of remote technology for in-home care in the nation’s only live-in laboratory for sustainable technologies. Our smart home dorm is the only platinum LEED rated dorm on the planet—the highest achievable rating for a green building. At Pratt, faculty are committed to bringing the excitement of pacesetting research to our students, and empowering them with the tools and skills to turn ideas into reality.
Engineering Grand Challenges at Duke: The challenges facing society today create immense opportunities for engineering students of the 21st century. But the most important challenges, from new energy supplies to global climate change, human health and cyber-security, cannot be solved by technology alone. Our nation’s engineering schools are recognizing the need to prepare students to reach across the disciplines and across the globe to seek answers in partnership with future leaders in policy, law, social sciences, business and the humanities. That is why we encourage engineering students at Duke to pursue their broad interests though certificates and minors in one of the many renowned liberal arts departments and outstanding professional schools at Duke. And that is why Duke, along with USC Viterbi and Olin College of Engineering, hosted a special national summit: Engineering Grand Challenges for the 21st Century on March 2-3, 2009. The Grand Challenge Summit brought together engineering leaders, noted scholars and thought leaders and students from across the disciplines to focus a national conversation on working together to meet the challenges. This event was so successful that we co-organized a series of Grand Challenge Summit events across the U.S. in 2010. Learn more about the Summit Series. In addition, I encourage you to explore a new national educational program that was announced at the Summit event: the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars program.
Duke engineering is leading the way in establishing novel educational opportunities such as 4+1 BS/MS programs, a 1-year engineering management degree, and the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars. The Scholars program has become a model for the nation and was endorsed by the National Academy of Engineering in February 2009. In addition, Duke and North Carolina State University just announced a new Grand Challenge K12 Partners Program designed to provide engineering curriculum support for teachers in the kindergarten through 12th grade professions.
With the strong support of our alumni, faculty and staff, I am confident that Pratt will not only emerge from this tumultuous period in a stronger position but will also contribute in a significant way to global recovery and health.
I invite you to be a part of something special by staying connected to engineering at Duke. As always, you can keep up with news and events through our website. Welcome!
Professor and Vinik Dean of Engineering