2010 Accomplishments Set Stage For Challenges Ahead

Photo of Greg Fenves

With the new year underway I want to reflect on what the Cockrell School of Engineering accomplished in 2010 and some of the challenges ahead. The accompanying video presents a sample of the amazing work by our students and faculty over the past year. I am proud of their achievements and am grateful to our alumni and friends for your support of the Cockrell School.

A Year of Accomplishments

The Cockrell School graduated more than 1,000 students with B.S. degrees and 678 students completed their M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering. The school ranked third in the nation for awarding undergraduate engineering degrees to minority students. Our Engineering Career Assistance Center provided support to 90 percent of our B.S. graduates with either job placement or making the transition to graduate school. This is an impressive record in the current economic climate and a testament to the value of a UT engineering degree. We hired 10 new faculty members across our seven excellent departments and overall the faculty directed more than $150 million in sponsored research projects.

Our departments also ranked exceptionally well in the National Research Council's long-awaited assessment of graduate programs and in the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Although these are the numbers, they represent the many individual and collaborative accomplishments of the outstanding Cockrell School faculty as they educate our students to be leaders and break new ground in research to solve problems in energy, improve health, and create technologies that will increase the quality of life and competitiveness of the nation.

Focus on Innovation

At the Cockrell School we recognize that engineering education must prepare students for a global economy that is experiencing revolutionary technological change. The creative research climate developed by our faculty and students is an "innovation ecosystem" with national impact. In May 2010, Forbes magazine cited the Cockrell School as one of the two secret weapons that make Austin one of the most innovative cities in the country.

Other boosts to our programs in 2010 included the appointment of: Ahmed Tewfik, the new chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department; Robert Metcalfe, Cockrell School Professor of Innovation and fellow of the Chair of Free Enterprise; and Richard Miller, the University of Texas' new chief commercialization officer. Each of these individuals brings to the university a superb combination of academic expertise, real-world technology application, and a successful record of entrepreneurship.

Vision for the Future

Advancing the innovative ecosystem at the Cockrell School requires modern teaching and research labs that will allow students and faculty to experiment, discover, create and collaborate. The past year marked a major step in our journey to implement the Cockrell School Master Facility Plan. The plan sets out how the school will replace and renovate the aging facilities that limit our ability to provide project-based learning for students and modern research labs for our faculty. The UT System Board of Regents voted in February 2010 to authorize design and fundraising for the Master Facility Plan's first and keystone project, the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC), which will transform our teaching and research.

A world-class architectural team is now creating a design that will make the EERC a reality. Last week the Texas Legislature convened, and we will be working with UT President Bill Powers on the university's priorities for the Session, which include an investment in the EERC. In the coming months I will share with you more on this subject and the progress with the EERC.

I hope 2011 is off to a good start for you. If you have any questions or would like more information about our initiatives, please feel free to send me an e-mail.

Happy New Year and Hook 'em Horns,

Gregory L. Fenves

Dean, Cockrell School of Engineering
Jack and Beverly Randall Dean's Chair for Excellence in Engineering

Top 10 Stories of 2010

Explore the 10 most read stories of 2010.

From Classroom to Space: Engineering Students Launch Hand-Built Satellites. Seven years of work by more than 150 students on a shoestring budget ... Read the full story online.

Wasting Food Means Wasting Energy. Each day, American households on average throw away at least one and a half pounds of food ... Read the full story online.

Petroleum Engineering Honors Six Distinguished Alumni. The PGE department hosted its inaugural Distinguished Alumni reception ... Read the full story online.

Research Warns to Think Twice About Teens Driving Pickups. A pickup could be the most dangerous vehicle for a 16-17 year old to drive ... Read the full story online.

Electrical Engineers Offer Vision of Wireless Possibilities.Cockrell School faculty are tackling a big-picture wireless initiative, Network of Systems Vision ... Read the full story online.

Solar Car Shines in National Competition. For the first time in 15 years, a UT car completed the 1,100 mile American Solar Challenge ... Read the full story online.

Biomedical Professor Creates Device that Replaces Biopsies. A new tool from UT biomedical engineers makes it easy and painless to detect skin cancer ... Read the full story online.

Sustainable Energy: Barriers, Realities and Future Plans. Professors Baldick, Patzek and Edgar discuss the policy barriers, vivid realities and future strategies ... Read the full story online.

A Crossroads in Outer Space: Faculty Perspectives. In light of announcements about NASA's future, two aerospace engineering faculty offer their outlook for space exploration ... Read the full story online.

Cockrell School Engineers Address Haiti and Chile Needs. Civil engineering faculty and their graduate students traveled to Haiti to assess damage, collect data and comfort locals ... Read the full story online.