Dean wants more fe­males

New goals launched

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By El­iz­a­beth Her­nan­dez

The new dean of the Univer­sity of Colorado’s Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing and Ap­plied Sci­ence, thinks his school is the best-kept se­cret on the Boulder cam­pus — and he’s do­ing ev­ery­thing short of scream­ing from the hill­tops to get the word out.

On Fri­day, the engi­neer­ing school launched a set of goals — goals so am­bi­tious, dean Bobby Braun ad­mits maybe they won’t be met — de­signed to lead the col­lege through a phys­i­cal and mis­sion-based me­ta­mor­pho­sis.

Within five years, the Col­lege of Engi­neer­ing in­tends to be the first of its kind to achieve an un­der­grad­u­ate pop­u­la­tion that’s 50 per­cent women. In 2016, about 26 per­cent of un­der­grad­u­ate engi­neer­ing stu­dents at CU were women.

“That’s an am­bi­tious one,” Braun said. “We’re ob­vi­ously not there yet, but we’re tak­ing big steps for­ward. We’re not just do­ing one thing to ad­dress it, but a whole se­ries of ac­tiv­i­ties like the ‘I Look Like an En­gi­neer’ cam­paign — show­cas­ing that all kinds of peo­ple go into engi­neer­ing and that we’re an in­clu­sive com­mu­nity of pro­fes­sion­als.”

In the same time frame, the col­lege as­pires to hire 20 mid­ca­reer fac­ulty who align with their re­search vi­sion; es­tab­lish an en­dow­ment to fund global pro­gram de­vel­op­ment; place at least 10 per­cent of fac­ulty on as­sign­ments that shape the na­tional agenda; and con­duct a bian­nual cli­mate sur­vey for all fac­ulty, staff and stu­dents with re­sults shared be­tween all lev­els.

These are just a smat­ter­ing of the engi­neer­ing school’s new plan.

Four cor­ner­stones — ac­cel­er­at­ing re­search im­pact, em­brac­ing a pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion mis­sion, in­creas­ing global en­gage­ment and en­rich­ing pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment — branch out into

sev­eral spe­cific ob­jec­tives Braun in­tends to tackle through­out the next few years.

At the end of five years, Braun be­lieves the CU engi­neer­ing school will emerge as a top 10 pub­lic engi­neer­ing in­sti­tu­tion. Right now, U.S. News and World Re­port ranks the col­lege about 20th in the na­tion among pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties.

“I want to trans­form the col­lege from be­ing the best kept se­cret in the Rocky Moun­tain re­gion to just be­ing the best col­lege in engi­neer­ing, pe­riod,” Braun said.

In a meet­ing Thurs­day with other engi­neer­ing lead­ers on cam­pus, Braun sug­gested more ag­gres­sive re­cruit­ing ef­forts to reach stu­dents in high school.

“They all know about the moun­tains and the foot­ball team, but not a lot of them know about engi­neer­ing,” Braun said.

Braun wants prospec­tive stu­dents to know about the new Aero­space Build­ing in the works ded­i­cated to unique lab space and im­mer­sive class­rooms. He wants them to know his col­lege is the No. 1 pub­lic school in NASA re­search fund­ing and the No. 18 most en­tre­pre­neur­ial school. He wants to prove his ded­i­ca­tion to all stu­dents through ini­tia­tives like more merit-based schol­ar­ships and fel­low­ships.

An over­ar­ch­ing theme through­out the school’s new frame­work is find­ing the hu­man­ity in engi­neer­ing.

“That is the fun­da­men­tal shift,” Braun said. “I would ar­gue that en­gi­neers go into engi­neer­ing be­cause they want to change the world. They don’t typ­i­cally do it just be­cause they like math or sci­ence. The shift this vi­sion rep­re­sents is re­ally a pub­lic state­ment of why we ex­ist, which is to have an im­pact on hu­man­ity.”

The goals, them­selves, were the prod­uct of months of brain­storm­ing ses­sions among stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff about how to make the col­lege bet­ter. Braun took that feed­back and cre­ated a plan with his team. He sees no rea­son in striv­ing for the eas­ily at­tained.

“If our goal is to be the first pub­lic engi­neer­ing ed­u­ca­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion for gen­der equity and we reach for that goal and come in sec­ond, is it re­ally such a bad thing?” Braun said.

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