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Objective IV

Through research and education, create a positive impact on the local community, the country, and the world.

As a leading university, Washington University in St. Louis’ mission includes the imperative to have a positive impact on society. Within the School of Engineering & Applied Science, we support student-centric efforts focused on expanding awareness of societal challenges and on promoting engagement with our community.

As a school, we have specific opportunities to dramatically impact society at every level, from creating employment opportunity, to advancing economic development to mitigating environmental impact and global inequities. This objective focuses the school on being an agent of change to achieve broad societal benefits.

Goal 1: Create a more diverse set of graduates and facilitate their growth into impactful positions across the country.

One of the ongoing challenges within our community and our country is diminishing upward mobility, especially among minority populations. Producing more highly skilled engineering graduates from diverse backgrounds and helping them secure high-quality positions impacts the community and country in profound ways.

Goal 2: Emphasize the importance of the workforce development mission of the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences.

The United States faces a potential crisis in the looming shortage of engineering talent needed to drive the economy. As an engineering school, our mission includes workforce development, the impact of which will be felt at both local and national levels. While faculty can focus on knowledge creation and technical education, the School must also consider our broader contributions to the workforce.

Goal 3: Increase the number of faculty and students engaged in entrepreneurial activities.

WashU as an institution has embraced an entrepreneurial agenda. The Skandalaris Center, Cortex and new makerspaces are all investments in nurturing innovation tied to entrepreneurial opportunity. Engineering should leverage this investment by establishing practices that encourage faculty and students to exploit such opportunities. The desired outcomes are more SEAS-incubated startups and more students who leave WashU with entrepreneurial aspirations.

Goal 4: Increase the number of patents pursued, issued and licensed.

State-of-the-art engineering in the 21st century is a blend of discovery and invention, and it is the invention (or innovation) component that can produce intellectual property of value and impact. But to do so requires a culture of innovation and development to coexist alongside the aspiration for great science. The numbers of patents sought, issued and licensed are measures of the vitality of that culture and of the extent to which it considers economically significant problems of the day.

Goal 5: Increase the extent of industrial engagement both in research and in the placement of our undergraduate and graduate students.

A world-class engineering school produces both people and knowledge that influence the practice of engineering in the world. Our ideas must influence the thinking of industry, and our graduates must become deeply embedded across the industrial spectrum of the country, especially in the most innovative engineering and technology companies.

Goal 6: Create greater visibility in the international engineering academic community.

Any significant engineering school has a reputation beyond its country’s borders. This reputation is critical to attracting graduate students — the majority of our graduate student body is international — as well as faculty. The school should target key institutions and countries to promote our brand of academic excellence and industrial relevance.