Mechanical Engineering
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Strategic Objectives

Vision

The vision of the Department is to be recognized for exceptional undergraduate and graduate education in the art, science, and practice of Mechanical Engineering..

Mission

The mission of the Department is to offer students nationally-recognized educational opportunities grounded in the fundamentals of Mechanical Engineering and involving state-of-the-art technology. The Department programs support technological development and innovation to meet many goals, including the needs of society. Faculty and student participation in design projects, research, or other similar activities is considered essential to their professional development. The education opportunities are to take place in a collegial environment of effective instruction and counsel.

Stakeholders

The major stakeholders of the Department include the students, faculty, staff, the employers of our students, sponsors of our research, and the State of Texas.

Values

Dedication & Commitment: Faculty, staff, and graduates have an ethic where hard work, industriousness, and persistence are valued.

Honesty & Integrity: The faculty, staff, and students recognize that honesty and integrity are essential in all of our actions, both as individuals and as a collective.

Supportive Community: Faculty, staff, and students in the Department support and care about one another, sharing a sense of community that promotes creativity and effectiveness.

Diversity: It is through supporting and encouraging a diversity of people, a diversity of thought, and a diversity of learning and teaching that will allow our Department to become a dynamic intellectual environment.

Teaching & Learning: Faculty members are dedicated to developing the knowledge and capabilities of students, and preparing them for a successful career.

Discovery & Research: Faculty members value the research enterprise and share their enthusiasm for discovery and innovation with students.

Strategic Plan

Strategic Goals of the Department

The Department has identified the following five goals that, if achieved, will enable our vision of expanding the Department's national prominence in the next five years. Those goals are as follows:

  1. Stabilize the Size and Improve the Quality of the Undergraduate Program

    The Department has the largest enrolled undergraduate student population in the Whitacre College of Engineering. As such, we are a key contributor to providing the technical workforce needs of the state and nation. We recognize that our nation needs more engineers, including those that reflect the diversity of our population.

    • Benchmarks by 2016 and Strategies to Accomplish Benchmark:
      • Student-faculty ratio of 20 to 1
        • Disseminate grade distributions
        • Ask for more positions
        • Minimum GPA of 2.5 for Thermo I, Statics, and DEQS
        • Set minimum expectations of students in all courses
      • FE pass rate of 90%
        • Introduce rewards
        • FE course does not count toward degree program
        • Students rewarded who pass FE
      • Improve graduation rate by 25% above its existing level
        • Minimum GPA of 2.5 for Thermo I, Statics, and DEQS
        • Increase faculty ownership by mentoring
        • Significant reward/recognition to faculty
      • Modernize curriculum (metrics: questionnaires, textbooks, lab equipment)
        • Introduce incentives to develop new courses
        • One month summer salary
        • Teach one course less
      • Develop mind-opening courses as required or elective courses
        • Nano (e.g. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics)
        • Bio (e.g. Biomimetics)
        • Transdisciplinary, Transnational, or Transcultural Science/Engineering
        • Entrepreneurship (Innovation)
        • Sustainability
  2. Improve the National and International Recognition of Our Research Programs

    The Department has a rich heritage of faculty members'; intellect, drive, and synergy creating world-class research initiatives. The Department needs to expand how it empowers and rewards faculty engaged in high-quality current and promising research activities.

    • Benchmarks by 2016:
      • Increase the annual scholarly publication rate per faculty in the Department as defined by National Research Council (refereed journal publications) to 3.5 publications per year
      • Increase the number of faculty in the Department with external grants and contracts as PI or Co-PI to 60% of faculty
      • Increase the number of faculty members holding rank of "fellow" in professional organizations and national academy of science from four to six
      • Increase the number of faculty members serving on editorial board of technical journals from seven to 10
    • Strategies Include:
      • Enhanced website
        • Enhanced software for more "eye-catching" website
        • Flash capability
        • Ease of uploading text, photos, and videos
        • Profile of faculty, categorized by primary area of research
        • Profile of existing graduate students and their research areas
        • Newsletter link with Contact Information Update request
        • Enhanced IT Support
      • Collect and compile up-to-date alumni contact information
        • LinkedIn
        • Facebook
      • Direct marketing towards prospective graduate students
        • Brochures at conferences and exhibitions
        • Brochures at other engineering graduate programs
        • Link on website to our graduate research program
      • Semi-Annual Research Newsletter
        • Hard copy
        • Personnel to actively collect data from faculty and put it in the form of a newsletter
        • Email
        • Link to newsletter available on website home page with request
      • Strive for student-to-faculty ratio of 20 to 1
        • Hire new faculty
        • Develop policies to improve undergraduate student quality
        • Increase graduate student enrollment
      • Improve quality and perceived relevance of research
        • Develop tools for publicizing the relevance of our research to popular and contemporary topics
      • Assist faculty with their teaching duties
        • Improved class rescheduling for optimizing faculty "non-teaching" time
        • Teaching release time for publishing
        • To the extent possible, assign 2 to 1 teaching load
        • To the extent possible, go to two-day/week class schedules, TT/MW/WF
      • Assist faculty in publishing
        • Develop cost-sharing by Department/College of Engineering for hiring a technical editor
      • Increase number of PI/Co-PI to 60% of faculty
        • Developing core groups to exchange research ideas/Synergy
      • Increase number of fellows in the Department from four to six
        • Salary increase
        • Mentorship by other fellows to encourage other faculty
      • Increase number of journal editorships from seven to 10
        • Provide release time
        • Salary increase
      • Increase number of recognitions
        • Endowed Chair positions
        • Awards
        • Best paper/conference
        • Faculty involvement in professional society boards/committees
        • Professional students society
        • Career awards
        • Jr. Faculty Award
        • Sr. Faculty Lifetime Contribution Award
      • Foster entrepreneurial activities by faculty
        • Release time for start-up company in area of research (model top 20 universities)
        • Student involvement and training
        • Benefit local economy
        • Cost sharing for STTR/SBR grants
        • Develop workshops and training seminars in the area of expertise
      • Identify/develop niche research areas, including the following, but not limited to:
        • Nano
        • Combustion
        • High-pressure materials
        • Automotive research
        • Energy
        • Biomechanics and health industry
      • Increase quality of research
        • Increase average departmental impact factor
        • Increase average departmental citation numbers
        • Salary increase
        • Provide cost-sharing to faculty for acquiring state-of-the-art research equipment
        • Provide cost-sharing funds for hiring post-doc research associates
        • Establish departmental research awards
        • Provide funds for supporting graduate students, especially at the doctoral level
      • Develop a seminar series for exchange of faculty speakers between Texas Tech University's Department of Mechanical Engineering and other universities
  3. Increase the Amount of Externally-Funded Grants and Contracts

    Quality research requires significant resources to support the faculty, students, and staff engaged in the research mission, and to provide the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities essential to the enterprise. The level of external funding not only enables our research mission, but is the primary factor in determining our research prominence in the nation.

    • Benchmarks by 2016:
      • Double the average annual grant awards per tenured and tenure-track faculty (FTE) from $60k to $120k
    • Strategies Include:
      • Attract and hire new faculty with high probability for funding success, including the provision of sufficient start-up packages
      • Reward external grant success in departmental P&T policies
      • Seek more and utilize instructional funds to distribute some teaching responsibilities from tenured or tenure-track faculty to qualified graduate students, instructors, and/or adjunct faculty, so that faculty can focus more time on proposal preparation and research activities
      • Allocate a significant portion of merit raises to success in securing external funding
      • Provide more time for research to faculty with external funding via reduction of classroom teaching load as reflected in departmental workload policy and consistent with university policies
      • Foster a culture that encourages faculty to creatively seek new research directions and new external funding opportunities
      • Foster a culture that values the importance of advising graduate student research on the same level as classroom teaching
      • Senior faculty will adopt a leadership mentality to promote external funding success by creating a supportive environment where every faculty member is vested in the success of others. The following activities are included in this strategy:
        • Promote faculty participation in funding agency review panels and federal review panels
        • Review proposals for colleagues and provide constructive feedback
        • Invite collaborators as Co-PIs
        • Promote a general awareness of all research activities within the Department
      • Encourage interdisciplinary collaboration by fostering interactions across the Department boundaries and providing support to encourage emerging interdisciplinary research activities
      • Provide travel support to explore outside opportunities by visiting potential funding sources
      • Provide cost-sharing funds for hiring post-doc research associates
  4. Increase the National Recognition of the Department's Graduate Programs

    The Department takes pride in a strong synergy between the graduate educational mission and the research mission. The quality and size of our graduate student body depends heavily on the national recognition of the excellence of our graduate program.

    • Benchmarks by 2016:
      • Increase the graduate student population in the Department from 110 to 160 students
      • Maintain 60%-70% doctoral students in the graduate student population
      • Increase the quality of graduate students as measured by:
        • GRE score improvement from 1176 to 1200
        • Number of doctoral students with national fellowships
        • Increase the graduate student support in the Department (Fellowships/RAs/TAs) from 80% to 100%
        • Be ranked in the top 75 graduate engineering programs as reported in U.S. News & World Report
        • Increase the number of publications authored by graduate students
    • Strategies Include:
      • Identify and implement key strategies in best practice recruitment of graduate students from leading colleges
      • Evaluate measures employed in ranking graduate programs (specifically U.S. News & World Report) and critically examine ranked schools above Texas Tech to gauge most effective strategies to raise ranking
      • Ensure the Department's websites are up-to-date, informative, and show graduate student success stories
      • Require all departmental-supported TA's to apply for college & university scholarships and fellowships every year
      • As a condition for receiving departmental TA support, require all faculty to seek college and university scholarships, and fellowships for their incoming graduate students
      • Identify and recruit top undergraduate students for graduate study through undergraduate research (more REU grant programs), and encourage them to seek federal graduate fellowship support
      • Provide funding for inviting nationally-influential researchers and administrators to participate in a departmental seminar series to raise the Department's profile
      • Establish departmental teaching and research awards for graduate students
      • Require all M.S. and Ph.D. students to submit a paper, as approved by the Research Advisor, for publication in a journal based on the results of their research
  5. Increase the Diversity of the Students and Faculty in the Department

    Historically, engineering has only appealed to a narrow segment of the society. Real and perceived obstacles to success in engineering must be removed and efforts made to attract talented individuals from a diverse segment of the society.

    • Benchmarks by 2016:
      • Increase the percentage of faculty in under-represented groups to at least the national average for Carnegie Research Institutions at all ranks
      • Increase undergraduate and graduate student population in under-represented groups by 20%
      • Deploy our faculty and students to undergraduate schools and community colleges in order to appeal to and encourage minority students to choose career paths in engineering and, more importantly, to join the ME Department for their undergraduate studies
    • Strategies Include:
      • Establish a Diversity Committee within the Department to develop and coordinate strategies that will increase diversity in the student and faculty population
      • Develop recruiting materials and methods that target under-represented groups
      • Assure that the pool of candidates for all tenure and tenure-track faculty hires are sufficiently diverse as well as high quality
      • Work with minority and women student societies to develop a strategy to enhance retention of diverse students
      • Support interdisciplinary academic programs such as bioengineering, engineering science, and environmental engineering that are known to attract a higher percentage of students from under-represented groups
      • Form a committee to develop family-friendly policy recommendations and then advocate these to university administration
      • Increase the number and amount of undergraduate scholarships
      • Increase the percentage enrollments of under-represented students
      • Attract more under-represented students by posting statistics of employment ratio and reports how the previous ME students obtained employment after graduation
      • Attract more under-represented students by inviting them to visit the labs of under-represented faculty in our Department
      • Increase the support to the under-represented faculty, including child-care, etc.