From the Dean: Education for the Technology Ecosystem

Summer 2012

Joseph Helble, Dean

The nation wants more engineers. Dean Joseph J. Helble says we need a different kind of engineer.

Interview by Karen Endicott

Thayer School Dean Joseph J. Helble was among the engineering leaders invited to the White House in February to discuss the call from the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness for the nation to produce 10,000 more engineers a year over the next decade. We asked him about the challenge and Thayer School’s role in meeting it.

What is your perspective on the national call for 10,000 more engineering graduates a year?
Deans of engineering schools were invited to a discussion at the White House about finding ways to boost science, technology, engineering, and mathematics literacy and increase the number of engineers we graduate in the United States annually over the next 10 years. My expectation is that we’ll reach that goal of 10,000 additional engineering graduates this year, based on projections from recent freshman and sophomore enrollment data.

Dean Joseph J. Helble
THE BROAD VIEW: Dean Helble says that problem solvers need more than a technical toolbox. Photograph by John Sherman.

I think the real goal should be higher. As long as there are challenges in areas such as clean renewable energy, carbon capture and sequestration, transportation, low-cost network communication, and every problem you can imagine in healthcare, we should be graduating people who have an engineering background who can tackle these problems. It doesn’t mean that all of them have to be practicing engineers. We need attorneys who can understand engineering quantitative and analytical thinking. We need more physicians who are trained as engineers and can take an appropriate quantitative approach to healthcare. We need venture capitalists and bankers with backgrounds in engineering. We need people working in all aspects of the technology ecosystem to address the pervasive problems that are going to be with us for a century.

Read the rest of the interview in Dartmouth Engineer magazine.