Dean Tom Farris Welcomes First Year Students (Freshman Convocation 2012 Speech Transcript)

Dean Tom Farris Welcomes First Year Students

Convocation, September 13, 2012


The start of a new academic year is always an exciting and energizing time for me—and this year is no different. I’m Tom Farris, dean of the School of Engineering, and I’m so pleased to welcome you all to Rutgers, for what I know will be one of the most dynamic and influential times of your life.

The past few months have been a time of planning for the School of Engineering as weprepare for the future with a new strategic mission and vision. We have spent a gooddeal of time thinking about what it means to be an engineer in the 21st century, and weare taking the steps necessary to get to that future.

And you are all part of helping us realize our vision.

Your class, the class of 2016, has the distinction of seeing Rutgers University into its 250th anniversary with your graduation four years from now. As President Barchi said inhis convocation welcoming remarks, what a party that is going to be! But before youstart celebrating, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of first. There isknowledge to gain and studying to be done. There are friendships to make andchallenges to take on. And there will be experiences that will shape the rest of your life.

But I’m here to tell you, you’re off to a great start. Your class is our strongest ever. Youare extremely diverse with students from 9 countries and 16 states. You have thehighest SAT scores of any class previously admitted. And, particularly pleasing to me,you are 160 women strong—the highest in our history! The DRC living learningcommunity on the Busch campus is an historic partnership between RutgersEngineering and Douglass Residential College. The love of my life is a Chemical Engineer!

As a member of the School of Engineering you are now part of a community of scholarsthat is engaged, dynamic and supportive and I encourage you to become an activemember of this amazing group of students, faculty and staff through your participation,both in and out of the classroom.

There is so much going on here that we are proud of—in fact, Fox News was oncampus last week to interview Materials Science and Engineering professor Rich Haber.Dr. Haber is collaborating with other university researchers and the US Army to developstronger and lighter protective body armor for soldiers.

So many of our School of Engineering faculty members are leaders in their field,generating some of the most exciting technological research in the state. Our facultyinclude National Academy of Engineering members, National Science Foundation EarlyCareer Award recipients, Department of Defense Young Investigators, and, mostrecently, an honorary member of ASME. And they are here for you to educate, motivate and mentor you to be the best you can be.

We have nine Research Centers that are making significant advances in the areas ofpharmaceutical and bioengineering; infrastructure, transportation and civil engineering;wireless communication; materials engineering and energy storage. Each offer excitingopportunities for study, research and internships

We also have an active network of alumni who have gone on to successful careersaround the world, including John Healey who is with us today, and who you will hearfrom shortly. Our alumni remain part of our community long after they graduate servingas advisors, mentors and generous donors giving back to the School of Engineering sothat we can provide academic scholarships and funding for special projects likeEngineers Without Borders and the national concrete canoe competition. This year,thanks to our generous alumni, we are launching the Rutgers Engineering Alumni IndustryScholars Program which offers students who excel academically in their firsttwo years, an opportunity to compete for a full tuition scholarship for their junior andsenior years. Students selected will also complete a paid professional internship andinteract with alumni and industry sponsors. Alumni who have sat in your seats yearsbefore are making this possible through their gifts and by opening the doors to theircompanies with internships.

And providing you support throughout your years at the School of Engineering, we havean outstanding team providing support services. I’m sure many of you have already metmembers of our Academic Affairs and Student Development offices and can speakfirsthand about the excellent service they provide.This is an exciting time to be an engineer and an exciting time to be at RutgersEngineering. We are committed to creating a culture where talent can flourish,innovation leads to economic growth and students are work-ready upon graduation tobegin careers that will provide the solutions to tomorrow’s global challenges—becausethat’s what it means to be an engineer in the 21st century.

I know this year will be another great year for Rutgers Engineering….. and I wish yousuccess and excellence in your academic studies.