An engineering school within a research university has a multitude of tasks and practices. Inherently, engineering is about both exploring and creating — understanding phenomena both natural and man-made and then advancing our ability to impact those worlds. We both produce new knowledge that changes the world and educate students so they can follow us, exploring and creating in a world we cannot yet imagine.
Because of these many different activities of the school, it is wise to have a set of principles and of bold aspirations that can guide our decisions at every scale. Otherwise execution becomes an act of merely continuing. Those principles and aspirations should both draw from existing strengths and challenge us to grow in directions that will significantly enhance our ability to achieve our goals.
With this strategic plan, our faculty and administration will be able to make the decisions required to fulfill the school’s vision. It will also serve as a guide in the allocation of the school’s resources to carry out those decisions.
The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis will be recognized as a leader in providing scientific insights and enabling technologies critical to solving fundamental research challenges of the world today and in preparing students for the rapidly changing world of tomorrow.
In order to achieve this vision, the school undertook a strategic planning process, beginning with an internal assessment in the spring of 2016 and then in earnest that fall. A strategic planning committee of 20 faculty, students and staff held a “call for ideas” — an invitation to all the school's constituents to provide suggestions and ideas about possible opportunities. Students, faculty, staff and alumni along with partners in industry, government and other organizations were provided input through a variety of channels including email, web forms and even personal communication.
The goal of the committee was to gather these ideas and then identify important themes. Once these were refined, the resulting documents could be considered and from those initiatives a set of objectives and goals articulated; likewise, the mission and vision would be self-evident.
The strategic plan document, along with the 19 SEAS Strategic White Papers, are the result of that process. The topics that emerged organically covered an even distribution of white papers targeting research, education, culture and operations. These areas represent thoughtful, deliberate efforts to dramatically improve the current status of our operations, to provide innovative educational experiences, to strengthen research directions in which we can have significant impact, and to strike out in bold new areas.
— Dean Aaron Bobick