2013 - 2014 Annual Report
August 6, 2014
Here we are again – at the end of yet another extremely productive and successful year for the Watson School. Over the past year (2013-2014), your hard work has helped our Watson School succeed in numerous initiatives spread across many aspects of our academic domain. It has truly been an exciting and fruitful year for all of us in Watson and at Binghamton University.
Each year, when I begin this endeavor of reviewing what took place over the past year and attempt to concisely write to you about our accomplishments, I am simply amazed and extremely proud about what our Watson School has achieved. The Watson Team has worked on a wide range of initiatives and activities, which include the welcoming of several new faculty members (the largest ever for the school) to growing our international collaborations to increasing research activity and collaborations across campus to receiving the largest class of graduate students to the Watson School. This past year, we welcomed 481 new freshmen and transfer students, 290 new graduate students, and awarded over 650 degrees (BS, MS, MEng, PhD). It has been a busy year for all of us and I am delighted to have the opportunity to review a few facets of your success.
First, I would like to thank President Stenger, Provost Nieman and all of our campus partners with whom we have worked over the past year for their unwavering support of the Watson School. From support for faculty and staff hiring to our graduate recruitment efforts and our activities with our international partners, the President's and Provost's Offices have been extremely generous to the Watson School. Especially noteworthy is their support for infrastructure-related projects that have helped to upgrade our laboratory and office spaces. These improvements in infrastructure have been critical to providing our students with a truly world-class education. It must be emphasized that our partners and colleagues across campus are vital to our ability to serve our principal customer – the student. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Watson School's Advisory Board. Their support, input and advice continue to be invaluable.
Overall, the Watson School has seen tremendous growth over the past few years. With 12 additional (new) faculty members joining this year (2014), we will have the largest complement of faculty that Watson has had in its thirty year history. And, this growth in faculty is similar to that experienced in the fall of 2013, and a similar number is expected next fall (2015). Another barometer of growth is the anticipated increase in graduate numbers this fall (2014). We are expecting approximately 350 new graduate students, bringing our graduate enrollments close to 950 – a 35% increase in graduate enrollments over the last 5 years. At the same time, our undergraduate enrollments have remained relatively steady. It must be emphasized that the growth of our student body has been accompanied by an increase in quality.
In close alignment with President Stenger's "20 by 2020" initiative, we are very deliberately growing our graduate numbers with an increased focus on doctoral students while concurrently enhancing quality. While this growth in doctoral numbers (and quality) will be fueled by an increase in externally sponsored research, it will also definitely result in an increase in scholarship. The addition of the Center of Excellence building (slated to open in fall 2014) will also contribute greatly to the research and scholarship taking place in the Watson School, including the work done by the Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2) and the Integrated Electronics Engineering Center (IEEC), as part of the Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging Center (S3IP).
We are delighted that several of our faculty leaders now have campus-wide roles. Distinguished Teaching Professor James Pitarresi became the Director of the Center for Learning and Teaching; Associate Professor Sarah Lam assumed the role of Associate Dean of the Graduate School; and Professor Daryl Santos was selected to be Vice Provost for Diversity, working with Ms. Valerie Hampton in her role as Chief Diversity Officer for the campus. Within the Watson School, Professor Kaiming Ye became the Chair of the Department of Bioengineering, and Professor Weiyi Meng will serve as Watson's Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies beginning August 16, 2014. He is taking over from Distinguished Professor Ron Miles, who will serve as Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
After almost twenty years within the Watson School, Ms. Michelle Gardner accepted an internal promotion to lead the University's development communication and stewardship efforts in the Division of Advancement. She will continue to serve as a valuable partner with the School. In April 2014, Ms. Shanise Kent joined the Watson School Dean's Office in a new role, Director of Diversity Programs & Initiatives and Chief Diversity Officer for the Watson School. In this role, Ms. Kent is developing and implementing strategies that will increase the number of women and historically underrepresented minority students, faculty and staff in the Watson School.
After more than 20 years with the Watson School, Ms. Lorna Wells has retired as the Director of Watson Advising. Ms. Wells was a dedicated member of the Watson Team and will be sorely missed. We are very pleased to announce that Advising's Associate Director, Ms. Sharon Santobuono, has assumed the position of Director, as of May 11, 2014. In addition, two new advisors have joined the office, Mr. Brad Gordon in November 2013 and Ms. Catherine Miller in July 2014. Our academic advisors continue to provide unmatched service to our students.
Before I go into specific detail about the various activities that took place this year, I would like to congratulate all of the faculty and staff in the Watson School who received awards and honors this year. Several faculty were honored by their discipline's professional organization for extraordinary achievement in their field; one faculty member received an NSF Career Award; a colleague was recognized by a national organization for his achievement in international efforts and globalizing the classroom; and several of our colleagues received Chancellor's Awards and other campus-wide awards. To those who did receive awards this year (there are too many to list here and I am sure I would miss someone), your efforts are invaluable to our academic success, and we are extremely thankful to you for your sustained, focused hard work.
In September 2013, the newly renovated offices for the Departments of Computer Science and Systems Science and Industrial Engineering were unveiled. The renovated areas on the 3rd floor of the Engineering Building at the center of campus include new faculty offices, graduate student office space, department office space, and teaching and research laboratories. The school's space needs are continually under review as we grow and seek additional funds to allow for a complete renovation of the remaining Engineering Building areas. We would like to thank our campus' senior administration and the team from the facilities department who made all of this possible. In addition, I would like to thank our Watson faculty and staff who worked tirelessly to ensure that the renovations and the relocation process was completed seamlessly, ahead of schedule.
Of course, space related challenges are never over, and we continue to review our current space, including instructional and research labs, with the goal of ensuring that our faculty, staff and students have superb facilities to work in. We are grateful to our the Instructional Labs and Software Committee for their hard work as they spent time reviewing requests for upgrades, including the purchase of new computers for Q-22 and Q-23 (new labs in renovated area), and the upgrade of the Bioengineering Dry Lab (classroom).
The faculty of the Department of Bioengineering completed work on a major overhaul of the bachelor's degree program, increasing its focus in biomedical engineering. This curriculum has been approved by SUNY, and we anticipate that it will be approved by the New York State Education Department in the coming months. We are very excited by this development and hope you will be too!
Increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities within all facets of the Watson School is critical to our success. In this vein, under the leadership of Ms. Shanise Kent, we have (i) developed a baseline for Watson, (ii) benchmarked with several other schools (aspirational peers), and (iii) developed multi-year goals (using clearly defined metrics and expectations). Ms. Kent is working within Watson and across campus to meet and exceed expectations. In addition, during the 2013-14 academic year, Ms. Kent continued her activities with the LSAMP, McNair and Bridge to the Doctorate programs. Students in these programs continue to represent Binghamton University and the Watson School at various national conferences – making us all very proud of their hard work and excellent research and scholarship! I must add that the Watson School is proud to carry on the work started by President Clifford Clark, a true friend to the Watson School and Binghamton University who passed away earlier this year, leaving behind a legacy of a commitment to supporting campus diversity.
An ambitious recruiting effort to promote the excellence of our graduate programs created an 82% increase in the number of graduate applicants between 2012 and 2013. And for the second year in a row, the Watson School welcomed a record number of new graduate students in the Fall of 2013. The record setting class of 290 students exceeded the Fall 2012 class by 66 students. Many of you participated in graduate recruiting activities that took place over the year. Thank you all for your efforts – we expect a record number of graduate students for Fall 2014 and it is all due to the hard work of the faculty, staff, students and alumni of the Watson School.
A particularly innovative example of a graduate recruiting initiative launched this past year is a program that supports current graduate student travel back to their undergraduate institution to give a research talk and spread the word about the wonderful programs and opportunities that the Watson School offers. This (new) Graduate Student Ambassador Award program is competitive in nature. Interested students submit an application. This year, we selected the first 5 recipients, who will give talks at universities in Hawaii, China, and Jordan.
Last year was the first year of the new 12-month Executive Master's program in Manhattan. This innovative program enrolled 31 students who received either the MS in Systems Science or the MS in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a concentration in Health Systems, graduating in April 2014. In August, the program will welcome the second cohort of students to campus for the program's orientation, following with classes on Saturdays at SUNY Global in Manhattan. A great program for those looking to further their careers by obtaining an advanced degree!
Thanks to unwavering support from Provost Don Nieman, Binghamton University has hired a specialist, Dr. William Kazmierczak, to oversee the undergraduate calculus program in Harpur College beginning in the fall of 2014. Dr. Kazmierczak comes to BU from Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ) and the goal is to make Binghamton a school of "best practice" in the teaching of calculus through outstanding pedagogy and student-centered learning practices. We anticipate immediate benefits to our students and expect to see continued improvement in overall retention and graduation rates.
This has been a busy year for researchers in the Watson School. Research proposals are up 45% from last year, with a concomitant increase in sponsored research awards. Regarding patents & invention disclosures, 13 patents were issued to Watson School faculty and there were 12 new invention disclosures. Over the last 15 years, 77 Watson patents have been issued and 24 inventions have been licensed. In 2013-14, Watson School faculty won 54% (15 awards) of the total TAE Interdisciplinary grants (28 awards). Interdisciplinary collaboration is critical for research today and I would like to congratulate all of you who seek out these collaborations. It is this kind of innovative thinking that will enable us to grow our research together. In calendar year 2013, Watson School faculty had over 200 publications. Efforts continue to be made to support faculty in their activities from proposal writing workshops and review to proofreading services to hosting special research focus groups to encourage collaboration among faculty and the sharing of best practices. Congratulations to all of the researchers in the Watson School – we know how time consuming it is to apply for funding and how competitive the landscape is for being awarded funding – your hard work is greatly appreciated!
Private donors continue to impact the Watson School with their support. Annual contributions have increased once again this year with cash donations up almost 20% and participation seeing a nearly 60% spike from last year. Alumni and parent giving to the annual Binghamton Fund appeal has doubled in the past year. Several efforts including a special mailing to all alumni living in the US, increased social media presence (which is followed by a surprising number of parents) and outreach following alumni gatherings held as part of the 30th Anniversary have been very influential. There continues to be opportunity for growth in this area. Every gift is valuable and impacts the activities we are able to undertake.
The Watson School Career and Alumni Connections program had a very successful second year. Now located in the C-pod on the main campus, they held over 30 mentoring, networking and professional development events for Watson students. Also launched this year was WTSN 105, our non-credit Engineering Career Institute. Consisting of six classes, this training provides our students with a winning process for launching their career. Also new this year was the introduction of Winter Break industry tours. During the week of January 13, 2014 over 100 Watson students visited 12 Manhattan based companies including Google, Bloomberg, Blue Wolf, Mattel, PWC, EY and Viacom. In addition, the team held several alumni engagement events at locations ranging from Boston to Seattle recruiting our alumni to engage with our students.
We continue to further develop our international collaborations with select universities via student, faculty and staff exchanges, industry engagements, and student and alumni events. Key focus areas this year included completing the membership process to join the Global Engineering Education Exchange (Global E³) which will enable our students to go abroad to universities in Asia, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East while earning credit at home. New agreements were also established with the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil (UFSC), PES University, Bangalore, India and agreements are underway in France, Japan, Thailand, and at Vishwakarma Institute of Technology in Pune, India. The role of our Watson Team in moving our international agenda forward cannot be overemphasized. It is their hard work that epitomizes Watson's collective commitment to international engagement and education. Our (Watson) international collaborations helped support our international student recruitment efforts in our pursuit to bring the world's best and brightest students to the Watson School. The Watson Team also helped organize a student cohort trip to India over Winter Break along with planning and preparation for student internships at Samsung in Seoul, Korea, for the second year. A special thank you to all of the faculty and staff who have worked with the Dean's Office and personally initiated and developed partnerships with select institutions – we are indebted to you, for your hard work and generosity.
With regard to Industrial Outreach, the Strategic Partnership for Industrial Resurgence (SPIR) grant administered by the Watson School funded 33 projects, providing 17 small and mid‐sized NYS businesses with engineering solutions to make them more competitive and promote jobs in the region. This past year, the SPIR grant contributed to the generation of over a half million in additional grant funding from other (federal) sources. In addition, some of our 'SPIR students' received full-time job offers from our industrial partners upon graduation.
This was the 30th Anniversary of the Annual Flight Simulation Conference with attendees from 11 countries. We were also pleased to have alumnus and Watson Advisory Board member Dr. Joseph M. Kolly '88, from the National Transportation and Safety Board, support the program as the keynote speaker at our kick-off reception. In total, over 17 professional education courses were held this year including multiple offerings of our online Green Belt Course. We also launched our Black Belt course, which will be offered again (online only) in August 2014.
Distance education is a critical part of our campus' growth. It is vital to the Watson School. We have had conversations within Watson and across campus to determine the best way forward. Our traditional approach, via EngiNet, continues to offer a tried and tested mechanism for distance education, with our team continuing its high caliber of service.
As I conclude this year's report, I must mention our 30th Anniversary Picnic. This was an enjoyable event, a great celebration that provided a wonderful opportunity to meet the families of our terrific Watson team. It is hard to believe that our Watson School is now over 30 years old!!!
I would like to thank you all for all that you do for our Watson School. It has been an incredibly productive year. The Watson School wouldn't be what it is today without you. Here's to a great year in 2014-15!
As always, thank you.