Strategic Plan

Message from the Department Head

Headshot of MEM Department Head, Jon Spanier

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics (MEM) holds a place among the top mechanical engineering programs of our nation. It is my honor to lead our MEM community and to share with you our new strategic plan.

This plan describes MEM’s collective mission, vision, and core values and lays out four high-level goals and specific strategies and initiatives to achieve them. It is the culmination of more than a year of conversations, analyses and collaborative efforts among our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. I am proud of the work we have done together and deeply grateful to all the stakeholders who have engaged in this process.

The strategic planning process heightened our understanding of the unprecedented circumstances that mechanical engineering education finds itself in today. It is one of the oldest engineering disciplines, yet its tools are increasingly essential to novel applications in such areas as energy-efficient systems, advanced manufacturing, personalized medicine, ubiquitous sensing and computing, and other emerging fields. With this expansion of cross-disciplinary inquiry, a question has emerged: How will we responsibly advance the frontiers of what machines can do?

This question demands that we explore how mechanical engineering education should prepare students to confront society’s greatest challenges–climate change, diseases without national boundaries, widespread human wellness and a high quality of life to go with increased longevity. It also asks us to confront important ethical issues, such as how to build equity, justice, and sustainability into our inventions, and even to consider: just because we can build something, is it wise to?

The strategic planning process was also an essential means of self-assessment. It forced us to wrestle with immediate challenges–enrollment, faculty retention, scarce and scattered space, and too-high student-faculty ratios. It necessitated our confronting frankly a complicated Departmental culture. And ultimately it asked us to rethink MEM’s vision, mission, and core values in light of our responses to all of these concerns.

This plan, which harmonizes with the College of Engineering and Drexel 2030 plans, is our response to the challenges facing our discipline and our Department. It will guide our programs and curricula, hiring and professional development, governance and decision-making, resource allocation, and communications. And it will be a living document that we revisit regularly and adapt to new challenges and opportunities. Through it we will deliver on our mission and build toward our vision of a thriving MEM where we collaborate and innovate together.

Vision

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics will be a vibrant and inclusive academic community of choice for diverse students and scholars–one that welcomes and supports those underrepresented in our field into programs distinctive for integrated and collaborative education, inquiry fueled by curiosity-inspired modeling, design, and manufacturing; and the successful application of MEM discoveries and innovations to address humanity’s most pressing challenges.

Mission

The Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics engages students and faculty from around the world in integrated teaching & learning, research, and service that empowers them to solve complex societal problems with technical skills, creativity, and empathy.

Core Values

  • Integrity | Ensuring ethical behavior and accountability in all of our pursuits and interactions.
  • Agility | Pursuit of the personal and professional growth, adaptability and persistence necessary to thrive in a constantly changing educational and innovation landscape.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion | Commitment to building a community of diverse personal backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints–one that welcomes and respects these differences as essential for effective inquiry, learning, and growth, and treats all of its members with fairness and justice.
  • Community | A collegial departmental culture that supports meaningful interaction and collaboration among students, faculty and staff and across traditional academic career boundaries
  • Sustainability | Responsible stewardship of our resources–financial, human, physical and digital–in ways that not only increase our efficiency but minimize harm to the natural and social environment.
  • Empathy | Intentional consideration of the circumstances and perspectives of others in solving problems and shaping lasting solutions.

machine-shop

Principles

Our strategic goals are rooted in MEM’s mission and the following principles

  • Students who are guided by their interests and a sense of purpose are likely to have more rewarding professional and personal outcomes.
  • Embracing lifelong and life-wide learning early in one’s education helps build flexibility, fearlessness, and curiosity that enhances career prospects even in the face of rapid and often disruptive changes.
  • Developing resilience requires that we encourage thoughtful risk-taking, and confront the inevitable challenges or failures that arise with curiosity, patient inquiry, and renewed desire to overcome hurdles to achieving our goals.
  • The best learning occurs not only with the accretion of individual knowledge but through progressively deeper cycles of engagement with a problem or case in collaboration with colleagues and peers.
  • Integrating foundational coursework with ongoing exposure to real-world problems through cooperative education and other means amplifies both classroom and experiential learning.
  • To ensure MEM’s long-term strength and impact, we must invest as individuals and as a departmental in building and sustaining a vibrant, collegial community of diverse backgrounds and experiences.

Strategic Goals

With these principles in mind we will pursue the following four goals.

I. Create boundaryless learning environments that build empowered resilient students

II. Develop a focused research agenda and enhance our research impact

III. Strengthen the Department's outreach, networks, and talent pipeline

IV. Promote a departmental culture of shared governance built on inclusion, collaboration, and fairness

Strategic Planning Committee: Our Change Agents

Committee Innovative Education Research Culture, Reputation, and Hiring
Andrei Jablokow Chair
Dimitrios Fafalis
Chair
Antonios Kontsos
Chair
Emily Bogunovich
Chair
Jennifer Atchison
Alexander Fridman
Li-Hsin (Leo) Han
Matthew McCarthy
Ahmad Najafi
Wei Sun
Ying Sun
Ajmal Yousuff
Sarah Andrieux
BS '21
Ebrahim Maghami
PhD Candidate
Rachael Reich
BS '17
Ali Sajwani
BS/MS '10
Nate Schweizer

Consulting Assistance to the Strategic Planning Committee

John Braunstein, Director, AKA Strategy