New Department Launches to Train Interdisciplinary Engineers of the Future

Across the globe, conflict arises where problem solving skills are lacking. Launched in the Fall Term of 2020 in Drexel University’s College of Engineering, the Department of Engineering Leadership and Society seeks to educate a new generation of engineers to approach the complex challenges of the 21st century with analytical minds and community-focused hearts.

James Tangorra
Dr. James Tangorra, Department Head

“The formation of this new department continues Drexel’s formative tradition of continually evolving its education to fit the needs of the students and society at a given time,” says James Tangorra, PhD, professor and department chair. “The department is industry-facing, with each of its programs designed to use university-based, extramural, and cooperative educational experiences to educate students to address the leadership and technological challenges of industry and areas of national need.”

The new department will offer bachelor’s degrees in engineering technology and construction management; graduate degrees in systems engineering, peace engineering, construction management and engineering management; and online certificates construction management, systems engineering, engineering management and peace engineering.

Each of the programs brings with it strong links to industry, and by combining expertise, the new department will be able to seek out new partnerships in industry, government, non-profits and the other colleges within Drexel.

Tangorra also says that combining the departments into one will allow for peace engineering, which Drexel became the first university in the country to offer a master’s degree in, to be infused throughout the curriculum.

“By ensuring that peace engineering is taught as part of each of our programs, we ensure that students are engaged in the community and understand that society’s concerns must be considered alongside industry’s needs,” he says. “This department will be the nation’s first to educate a new generation of students who understand societal well-being, peace and industry development as interacting parts of a whole system.”

Christine Fiori, PhD ’97, who led the Department of Construction, Engineering and Project Management and Systems Engineering, says that joining programs together will unlock new possibilities for students.

“More students can experience the tenets of each of the existing programs,” Fiori says. “The combination of expertise in the department will make our programs majors of first choice for so many who may have never considered one or the other when they were separate. Students will also be able to make new and exciting connections to different groups of passionate and active alumni across a wide range of professions.”

The new department will also open up possibilities for research.

“The combination of the programs opens possibilities for really interesting collaborations,” Fiori says. “A robotics expert can lend expertise to help a construction management specialist find venues for automation. A systems engineer can apply their thinking to gun violence prevention. Virtual reality can become part of workforce training when trying to retrain populations at scale. The possibilities for what we’ll be able to do together as faculty, and the first-hand learning experiences we’ll be able to give students, are endless.”