Pratt School of Engineering
Strategic Plan Summary
The challenges facing the world today are more complex, and overlap and intermingle technology, business, policy, law, and many other fields. While technology is still critical to addressing such grand challenge problems, the engineer of the 21st century—whether in academic research or industry positions—must have a broader education in order to solve problems that are so interdisciplinary and dynamic.
The mission of Duke's Pratt School of Engineering is to (1) prepare Duke Engineering graduates to be leaders and innovators in the 21st century global workforce who use knowledge in the service of society; and (2) to engage in leading edge research that involves fundamental discoveries applied to the grand challenges of our time.
The vision for our educational programs is to provide a rich learning environment where students and faculty engage in life-long learning side by side through a curricula that fosters discovery and experiential learning in an interdisciplinary environment. We will leverage the strengths of the great professional schools and liberal arts at Duke in order to advance multidisciplinary research and cultivate new educational opportunities. And because of their essential role in realizing our mission, we continue to engage our staff as valued partners in our educational and research missions.
The goals discussed below embody the essential priorities to ensure that Duke's Pratt School of Engineering achieves its mission and vision of being an equal peer with the [world's] best engineering schools in a broad academic context and a model for engineering higher education. Key resources to achieve these goals are new research and educational space and a net gain of 10-12 tenure track faculty members over the next five years. Faculty recruitment will be targeted to strategic areas that address the grand challenges and can leverage partnerships with other schools at Duke. New resources to enable this growth include revenue from master’s education and fundraising.
Key goals of the Strategic Plan are to:
- Enhance undergraduate education by developing integrated lecture/laboratory and design courses that stress cross-disciplinary skills and knowledge development.
- Expand doctoral education by increasing the number of students per faculty, by developing the PhD+ program, and by cultivating internships to provide students with experiences in innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Develop a suite of new Master of Engineering offerings that meets the needs of 21st century industry, including delivery methods that maximize rather than restrict access to such training.
- Build a new research and education facility to meet our space needs for integrated lecture/laboratories, to accommodate our growing master’s programs, and to advance our collaborative relationship with the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences.
- Pursue interdisciplinary research initiatives that address grand challenge issues. Key research problems for faculty and students include energy and the environment, metamaterials manufacturing, preventing pandemics, engineering better medicines, and reverse engineering of the brain.
- Expand our role as a driver for innovation by adding a component of market driven research to our overall research portfolio.
- Develop internationalization opportunities for research and education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
- Pursue and promote diversity of the faculty.
We will enhance undergraduate education by developing integrated lecture/laboratory and design courses that stress cross-disciplinary skills and knowledge development. A shared engineering science curriculum offers students flexibility as they consider options for a major, provides a prudent use of resources, and permits flexibility as enrollments in majors change. Students will address more complex problems and integrate expertise from many disciplines through shared interdepartmental design experiences that address aspects of grand challenge problems. These new design experiences and greater use of certificate programs and dual majors with Arts and Sciences will leverage expertise in the environment, medicine, law and public policy. The Energy and Environment Certificate is a model of such new interdisciplinary activities. The recently developed NAE Grand Challenges Scholars program represents a model that embodies the ideals for engineering education in the current era.
Experiential learning, innovation and entrepreneurship provide students with the opportunity to both learn about the complex issues facing engineers and how to apply their knowledge to relevant problems of importance. A wide range of opportunities has been developed over the past few years, including such programs as the Pratt Fellows Undergraduate Research Program, DukeEngage, Engineering World Health, Duke Engineers for International Development (a DukeEngage program), the Duke Smart Home Program, DuHatch student business incubator, student competitions such as the Duke Start-Up Challenge, and student clubs such as Duke Robotics and the Society of Automotive Engineers chapter.
Many of the problems we face are global in nature and Pratt students’ involvement in the study abroad program has increased. Enhancing study abroad opportunities through new educational and experiential offerings that broaden curricular opportunities will continue to enrich the student experience.
An integrated BS/Master’s program provides an excellent opportunity for students to achieve the necessary depth of experience and education to be prepared for a wide array of careers. Students can make the most of their experience at Duke by planning for such a combined degree when they matriculate.
Graduate education will be supplemented through a PhD enhancement program with the working title of PhD+, and a new suite of master of engineering degree offerings.
The PhD+ is intended to enhance our traditional excellence in research training with experiences and skills ranging from entrepreneurship and business to public policy. Given the complex nature of engineering problems, the research problems students face have become more interdisciplinary. Consequently, our students’ training must expand to provide the knowledge base and skills to address such research questions. The graduate course offerings must increase to provide the needed technical base for such research. Providing opportunities for student participation in international research partnerships or internships further enhances the students’ research experience and skills. Such experiences also help students learn about the management of research teams, creating opportunities for personal advancement throughout their career. The size of our various doctoral programs should increase to further the research and teaching mission of the school.
Student interest in master’s programs is growing. This reflects industry’s need for students with more technical depth as well as experience in integrating policy, business fundamentals, leadership and practice. By developing new master’s programs (e.g. M.Eng.) and delivery methods (e.g. distance education), we provide the education that meets the needs of 21st century industry.
Research and Faculty
Faculty research is crucial to solving the grand challenges of our time, generating new knowledge, and training postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students. Duke engineering faculty have a strong tradition of cross-disciplinary exploration, as evidenced in part by the Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Materials Systems, the Center for Biomolecular Tissue Engineering, and the new Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT). In addition, Duke is a leader in areas such as biophotonics, ultrasound imaging, compressive imaging, aerodynamics and aeroelasticity, microfluidics, computer architecture and performance integrity, applied signal processing, micro and nano device design and fabrication, applied metamaterials, nonlinear and computational mechanics, and environmental science and remediation.
Key research problems for faculty and students to address include energy and the environment, metamaterials manufacturing, preventing pandemics, engineering better medicines, and reverse engineering of the brain. The last two coincide with two of the fourteen Grand Challenges for the 21st century identified by the NAE. These activities naturally span departments and centers, and focused efforts in these areas will enable us to make major research advances. Likewise, center activity needs to be adaptive, and function to meet specific goals and facilitate research. An exciting opportunity that realizes this vision is a possible pharmacoengineering program with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Faculty members need to develop new interdisciplinary educational experiences and to facilitate the use of technology in the classroom. To provide a supportive environment for continued success, the school and the departments need to nurture and promote faculty success. Such recognition includes fellow status and awards in professional societies and membership in the National Academy of Engineering.
New Research and Educational Facility
We will establish a new research and education facility to meet our space needs for integrated lecture/laboratories, to accommodate our growing master’s programs, and to advance our collaborative relationship with the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. The proposed facility size is 87,695 nsf, comprised of 30,000 nsf of dedicated space for education, 42,700 nsf for research, 5,625 nsf for Nicholas’ administrative offices and 9,730 nsf for a university-wide Energy Hub. The building will function as a central nexus of highly visible laboratories and classrooms for interdisciplinary research and project based learning. The facility will also feature common, open spaces for informal gatherings where faculty and student can interact and foster new opportunities.
Driver for Innovation
As a driver for innovation, we will build on a long tradition of success in research translation by adding a component of market driven research. The Duke-Coulter Translational Partners program is one model for how this could work. In this program, Duke engineers partner with clinical faculty in the Duke Medical School to bring proof of concept research to a commercially marketable state, with patents, licensing or business spin-offs as the ultimate goal. We will leverage strong relationships with industry to create similar ‘incubator’ opportunities for faculty’s non-medical technology. We anticipate this will in parallel create more opportunities and inspiration for students and faculty to partner in entrepreneurship activities, and support Duke’s six-school entrepreneurship goals. In addition, such efforts will support the planned PhD+ course and workshop offerings, and generate a broader pool of teams to engage in opportunities such as the Duke Start-Up Challenge business plan competition, and DUhatch undergraduate business incubator.
We will also support the internationalization theme of Duke’s strategic plan. As Duke units such the Medical School and Fuqua School of Business expand to international campuses, engineering has a supporting role in enabling Duke’s broad success by bringing an applied technology context to research and educational programs in such foreign countries. In addition, Pratt already has strong relationships of its own with international institutions such as undergraduate exchange and an aerodynamics master’s program with KTH in Sweden, and engineering curriculum development with Effat College in Saudi Arabia. Pratt is also part of the Kunshan, China effort, and will have laboratory facilities for future programmatic development. Our engineering efforts will focus on collaborative foreign partnerships that enable us to leapfrog our domestic university competitors to differentiate us in defined areas of research and education.
Staff that are highly trained and motivated are essential to the success of our research and educational missions. We need to provide the highest quality environment for staff success; make use of the latest technology and operational practices to ensure high productivity; and nurture and recognize staff success.
Outreach efforts ensure that Pratt can draw from a wide range of talent. By promoting the educational and research strengths of the school to a wide audience, we can develop and retain a diverse student body and world-class faculty. Recruitment strategies described in Appendix I are attuned to the need to increase the diversity of the faculty.
The goals discussed above embody the essential priorities to ensure that the Pratt School of Engineering achieves its mission and joins the top rank of engineering programs in this country. Key resources to achieve these goals are new research and educational space and a net gain of 10-12 tenure track faculty members over the next five to seven years. Faculty recruitment will be targeted to strategic areas that address the grand challenges and can leverage partnerships with other schools at Duke. New resources to enable this growth include revenue from master’s education and fundraising.