Dear Lehigh Engineers and Friends,
As the year draws to a close, I extend to all of you my sincere wishes for an enjoyable holiday season.
The year 2013 has been one of significant progress for Lehigh Engineering. We’re experiencing substantial growth, even in the midst of troubling national engineering enrollment trends. Engineers comprise 45% of Lehigh’s incoming undergraduate class, with more students in our undergraduate and graduate programs than we’ve seen for the past 30 years. Yet the percentage of U.S. college graduates in engineering -- currently at 4.5% -- continues to fall.
Why, you may ask, is Lehigh Engineering following a trend contrary to the national norm? I believe the key reason is that Lehigh takes a very different approach to engineering education, and that the marketplace is taking notice as our message gains greater traction with this generation of students.
We take a holistic view toward engineering education; our curriculum sets out to educate future engineers as well as professionals who would benefit from "engineering thinking" in pursuits such as business, entrepreneurship, law, medicine, and design. Over the past decade, we’ve developed a dozen or so innovative, interdisciplinary programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Undergraduate programs such as Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE), Integrated Degree in Engineering, Art, and Sciences (IDEAS) and Computer Science and Business (CSB) now account for one-quarter of our student body. Similarly, we have developed Professional Masters’ programs -- in emerging cross-disciplinary fields such as Analytical Finance, Technical Entrepreneurship, Energy Systems Engineering, Healthcare Systems Engineering, and Structural Engineering -- to prepare focused and yet well rounded leaders in emerging areas of great societal concern.
This interdisciplinary mindset spills over into all of our majors and programs, and has contributed to a significant increase in women in engineering at Lehigh (28% compared to the national average of 17%) as well as a cultural shift on campus that promotes creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. For example, there were over 50 student-launched companies last year alone, and more than 40% of our students participate in undergraduate research. The energy and creativity of this self-driven learning style serves to draw ever more talented and driven students to our doors.
For our students, the self-driven style of learning is key to success among the complexity of the modern world. The resurgence of Lehigh Engineering can be traced back our roots -- our approach to engineering has never been about preparing students just for the plying of a trade. Our goal is to nurture young people into multidimensional thinkers and leaders with keen judgment, humility, and the confidence to "think outside of the box." In this way, engineering truly represents liberal education for the 21st century.
I wish you a prosperous and exciting New Year, and thank you as always for your interest in Lehigh Engineering.
S. David Wu, Dean and Iacocca Professor