Welcome to the new academic year! I especially extend my greetings to our new undergraduate and graduate students and faculty and staff, many of whom I had the pleasure to meet during orientation activities. I hope their palpable excitement and anticipation extends to each of us after the Labor Day weekend as we enter the second week of classes, further establish our routines, and dive into the semester.
I have entered my second year as Interim U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering and I believe that we have made good progress toward our three primary goals: advancing educational excellence, promoting innovative and impactful research, and enhancing student experiences. My thanks to senior leaders, including our associate deans and department chairs, as well as outstanding faculty, staff, and students who have contributed to these efforts.
Enhancing student experiences is one of the top priorities for us, and I hope that our new students will discover that we are dedicated to the success of each member; our faculty and staff are ready to assist them as they make the transition to Pitt. I want to emphasize that students need to ask for help as needed and our job is to make them feel comfortable asking for help. I also urge students to be engaged in this process, lending a helping hand to your peers.
Promoting innovative and impactful research will continue to be a critical focus for us as we develop new partnerships and collaborations with other universities and industry. We have selected biomedical- and energy-related research as the two primary focus areas. We also continue to grow our research in related areas and enabling technologies such as advanced manufacturing, design and characterization of novel materials, modeling/simulations and computations, and distributed sensors and data analytics, with sustainability considerations integrated in all our research and educational efforts.
A remarkable growth of our research portfolio has occurred under the leadership of David Vorp, Senior Associate Dean for Research and Facilities, and Heng Ban, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives. Annual research expenditures within the Swanson School now exceed $113.85 million for FY ’22 – a 13 percent increase over FY ’21 and 22 percent increase over FY ’20. Several of our faculty have been awarded significant grants from NSF and NIH and are making names for themselves – nationally and internationally – as experts in their respective fields.
There are several important events happening this academic year, beginning with our ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) re-accreditation, a process that occurs every six years. I want to recognize Mary Besterfield-Sacre, our Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, departmental undergraduate program directors, and staff who for the past 18 months have prepared for this September 2023 visit. ABET is the imprimatur for our undergraduate programs. Their independent evaluations of our undergraduate programs are an opportunity for us to reflect on and enhance our undergraduate educational programs and student outcomes.
In closing, I want to emphasize that we have a lot of work ahead of us. As we navigate the new university leadership and fiscal structure, we must maintain unwavering focus on our primary goals of advancing educational excellence, promoting innovative and impactful research, and enhancing student experiences. Active participation by all of us – students, faculty, and staff – is critical for us to accomplish these goals. We share a personal and collective investment in the Swanson School, and our success depends on everyone’s involvement.
My door is always open, and I welcome you to stop by my office or stop me in the hallway. Let’s work together to make the 2023-2024 academic year a memorable one – full of exciting accomplishments and shared expectations for a better future. Hail to Pitt!
Sanjeev G. Shroff
Interim US Steel Dean, Swanson School of Engineering
Distinguished Professor of and Gerald E. McGinnis Chair in Bioengineering
Professor of Medicine
September 6, 2023