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Wednesday, Oct. 01, 2014
 

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Engineering school's growth targets societal needs


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H. Vincent Poor, dean of the engineering school, is focused on four priority areas for the school's continued growth. Read Story


Video Closed Captions

H. Vincent Poor:
Our priorities today in the school are focused on four major areas of societal need:

energy, environment, health and security.

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Technological innovations are going to be very important in fields like biofuels and solar energy

if these are going become viable alternatives to fossil fuels in producing energy.

Princeton engineering is very heavily involved in clean technologies in general --

in areas like green buildings and green information technology,

and these are fields that we will continue to move into more aggressively in the coming years.

The School of Engineering already has substantial research programs in the area of human health --

for example, in problems such as the use of nanoparticles for the treatment and diagnosis of disease, or in novel treatments for diabetes.

Princeton Engineering also has substantial strengths in the field of security.

Society has to be able to make decisions in the face of risk --

risk of hurricanes or earthquakes or tsunamis or even terrorist events --

and engineering principles can be used to make optimal decisions in the face of such risks.

But also information security -- security and privacy on the Internet or security of our health records or security in electronic voting.

There are two things that I remember as being particularly important from my days as a graduate student at PrincetonÕs school of engineering.

One of the things is the substantial intellectual freedom that I enjoyed

to explore things that were of interest to me even outside of my own department, in physics or in mathematics,

and this intellectual freedom is a hallmark of Princeton's School of Engineering even today.

Another thing that I remember is the emphasis on fundamentals.

Even though my field, which is electrical engineering, has changed enormously over the intervening 30 years,

IÕve been able to maintain an active research program at the front edge of that field

all that time because I had a good grounding in the fundamentals of the field.

I expect that the school of engineering's boundaries -- both physical and intellectual --

will have expanded greatly beyond where they are even today.

If we are able to make wise investments in the near term, I think we will see explosive growth

in areas like biological engineering, in engineering contributions to energy, environment and security.

Students will become increasingly involved, for example, with the Woodrow Wilson School,

because there are hardly any technologies that donÕt have major policy issues with them,

and, likewise, there is hardly any major policy issue that doesnÕt have some technological dimension, such as climate change.

Students will also become more international. We already have students going to many parts of the world, and

I hope that every Princeton engineer will be a world citizen.

Princeton has a large engineering school relative to the size of the University.

So this gives us a unique opportunity -- and even an obligation -- to help define what will a liberal arts education will look like in the future.

I expect that there will be seamless integration between engineering and the rest of the campus.

Technological literacy will play the same role that, say, economics does today in defining a liberal education.

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