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Engineering: A field for those who seek to change the world…

For the past nine months we have been engaged in developing a new strategic plan for the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). In April the Trustees reviewed our plan, and I am greatly looking forward to presenting it to many more alumni and alumnae at Reunions! I invite you to return to campus to help us celebrate and launch the new vision on May 28.

The way we developed this plan says a lot about our hopes for SEAS. From the start, we were determined to engage the entire SEAS community in designing the future vision for the School. The process we adopted was highly participatory, and you plunged right in. Thank you! Over the course of last fall, we convened 11 workshops which attracted 750 faculty, students, staff, alumni, and distinguished guests to Princeton, and generated 250 recommendations on topics from undergraduate and graduate education to nanotechnology and life sciences to engineering in the developing world and the interface between engineering and the arts.

We spent the winter synthesizing all your wonderful ideas and dreams into a visionary yet practical plan for SEAS. We met with faculty, staff and students throughout the winter to share and refine ideas and gather feedback. And as spring approached, we took our vision for SEAS on the road, to share ideas with, and listen to alumni across the country. We visited Boston (where Frank Moss ’71 hosted us at Infinity Pharmaceuticals), Seattle (where Brad Smith ’81 and Jennifer Chayes *83 hosted us at Microsoft), San Jose (where Chris Buja ’84 hosted us at Cisco), and Washington D.C. where (where Mark Mazo ’71 hosted us at the offices of Hogan and Hartson LLP). Alumni/ae came together from all classes, departments and professions to talk about engineering and Princeton.

As you might expect when listening to Princetonians, we heard some wonderful things. You told us how excited you were to be consulted about the future of SEAS. You told us how excited you are that SEAS has become such a high priority for Princeton. And perhaps most gratifying of all, you told us how the new vision for SEAS inspired you. One of you commented “I feel lucky to be an alumnus of a school that wants to be #1 not for the sake of being #1, but rather because being #1 would mean that 17-yr-olds will know that engineering is something they can do to make the world a better place, and that Princeton is the school where they can learn how.”

Our work is only beginning, but I am deeply grateful for your engagement and enthusiasm. I hope to see you back on campus in May!

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