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Welcome back!

 | Aug 28, 2017

Welcome back!

Aug 28, 2017

It’s that time again, to start a new school year, while our rolling hills are still green – incredible; this is usually the dry, dull green time of year – and the sun is still warm, but cool mornings promise crisper days and turning leaves. A new academic year begins, and with it, each of our students, faculty, and staff bring much promise to the good they’ll create.

I noted this last fall, but this fall, I get to note it again, because we’ve topped ourselves: You’re part of our largest total enrollment ever! We’re welcoming 1,845 undergraduates, 160 residential master’s students, 380 online master’s students, and 135 Ph.D. students. That adds up to 2,140 students-in-residence in Athens, and more than 2,500 total when counting online students. The Russ College continues to grow, and we’re proud that you’re a part of it. 

What did you do this summer? Some of our students completed internships, some performed research, and some competed on teams – including an industrial and systems engineering student duo who beat more than 200 teams from 11 countries in an international simulation competition, and an interdisciplinary team who traveled to New Mexico to launch a Russ College rocket they’d been working on since last fall. You can read more in our first issue of E-news this fall.  I enjoyed my own experience in Ireland with International Space University, leading a group of aspiring space engineers to design, simulate, and launch both high power rockets and a stratospheric balloon payload. But, it was a lot of long days and few weekend breaks – much like the summer experiences of many of you, I suspect.

Those of you who are returning will recall that we’re planning to renovate the West Union Street Office Complex into a 100,000-120,000 square-foot research facility. I’m happy to report we’ve secured funding for the project – on a college campus, a lot of meetings, planning, and presentations must occur before that can even be pursued – and we’ll begin construction when the current tenants are relocated. I’ll be pushing that date closer and closer when I can. We’ve recruited stellar new faculty over the past few years to join our longstanding experts who will be able to “spread their wings” in this new facility, as will our students who will work alongside them.

One of our newest and most promising research areas is trustworthy engineering. It’s one of our most exciting initiatives in both education and research, and we’re working with private industry and the government. To understand what it’s about, think about what happens when a number of simple pieces of software known to be secure from hacking are combined: They’re actually not necessarily impervious as a system. This problem is one of the main challenges of the Internet of Things. So, we’re developing ways to build secure sub-pieces that will be just as trustworthy when they work together.

Another focus is sustainability. We remain as committed as you are to it – and to the quality of your experience – while we create for good. To that end, we’ll update processes and methods this year to see how we can be better environmental citizens. This will include lab printing procedures, which you’ll be hearing more about soon. As always, we welcome your ideas as to how to be more environmentally friendly and more efficient with our resources.

This fall is the first on campus for some of you, as it is with our new President, Dr. Duane Nellis. Interestingly, his research background has strong intersections with work we do with faculty in our Avionics Engineering Center. Remote sensing enables the monitoring of crops from air and space, and of methane emissions at well sites – and it’s also the technology behind Google Earth. Dr. Nellis will meet with some of our faculty and staff in the coming weeks, and we look forward to sharing the Russ College story with him.

As you set out to create for good, my door is open for your comments, concerns, questions, and ideas.