WSE Dean answers questions at town hall

By SIRI TUMMALA | November 3, 2016

Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Dean Ed Schlesinger, led a sparsely attended town hall meeting for WSE undergraduates on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Roughly 15 students attended the event, and there was only one woman. During the town hall, students were able to share their perspective on current initiatives and express their concerns.

Senior Ronann Carrero, who had attended previous town halls, thought students were not making full use of the opportunity.

“There is a lot of good information that comes from [the town halls],” Carrero said. “It is overlooked by the student population, but it is a good chance to meet with the leadership.”

Freshman Aleser Alahmad explained why he did not attend the session.

“I didn’t read the email. But now that I look at it, it seemed interesting and maybe I would have gone,” Alahmad said.

Freshman Kendall Free had not been able to attend the town hall because of an upcoming assignment, but thought that it was well publicized.

“There were a lot of posters everywhere and the email was pretty well spread out,” she said.

During the town hall one student raised concern over the frustration many face while trying to start their careers after leaving Hopkins.

In response, Schlesinger did not offer concrete solutions, but he pointed out that there have been new hires in the Career Center.

“We do not have as strong relationships with industrial partners as we could. But we are growing,” Schlesinger said. “There are things big and small, but some will bear fruit over time. We have a new director and associate director of the Career Center.”

He went on to discuss the administration’s upcoming plans.

“There are areas I would like to develop too. One thing we are talking about right now is developing a minor in space systems engineering because of our partnership with the applied physics lab,” Schlesinger said. “Maybe this can develop into research as well. There are many areas I see us building on.”

When a student asked what some of WSE’s main goals were for improving the school, Schlesinger responded by stressing the importance of moving up the rankings.

“My objective is for our school to be recognized literally as the finest school of engineering in the country. We are fourteenth in terms of the rankings. I think the way we are going to be recognized as being truly outstanding is by emphasizing areas where we are uniquely strong,” Schlesinger said.

Another student asked the Dean what his vision was for the future of engineering at Hopkins.

“We are planning on building an Innovation Center for Hopkins,” Schlesinger said. “What I want to see happen, including additional physical space, is a kind of environment or ecosystem where you as students will do a lot of design hands-on projects as part of the curriculum just like they do in BME.”

Siavash Parkhideh, a junior in BME, commented on the discussion’s impact.

“I felt that it was great to hear other students speak about their ideas and have a candid and open discussion,” Parkhideh said. “[It was] inspiring to know that people who are directing the future of the school are passionate and excited about it.”

Schlesinger also felt it was important to receive feedback.

“[Student] input helps inform us so we can make the best decisions we can. So we can put together the best programs and the best facilities,” Schlesinger said. “But I also think it’s important for the students to see themselves as having a responsibility for implementing certain things. It’s not a one-way street with the students wanting something and us providing it.”

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