Dean wants more females
New goals launched
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.