Article Photo Dean Julio M. Ottino

Letter from the Dean

In recent months science and engineering have moved to the forefront of public discussion. Much attention has been given to the role of engineering innovation in the future success of our country, and academics and politicians have sounded the alarm - America's technological leadership may be at risk. They point to the growing number of engineers graduating in Asia, the changing economics of our increasingly "flat" world, and alarming trends in the American educational system.

The numbers certainly merit concern, but many seem to be missing a key part of the message. The problem isn't about the quantity, but rather the quality of the engineers that we produce. Change brings challenges, and challenges bring opportunity. The ability to identify and anticipate these opportunities is critical to our future prosperity - and it is at the core of the McCormick education.

In this issue of By Design you'll find a sampling of McCormick's broad, interdisciplinary, and innovative approaches to research and education. In our cover story we examine an exciting partnership between the Art Institute of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratories, and Northwestern. These exciting projects allow our faculty and students to explore interdisciplinary research projects that exemplify the relevance of engineering principles to many facets of our society.

The importance of engineering was also made abundantly clear as the United States responded to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. McCormick joined the rest of the country in offering its help to those affected by the storm, and our faculty played an important role in contributing to the public discussion on recovery from the storm.

In this issue we introduce a new feature, "Career Paths," highlighting the growing number of McCormick alumni working in consulting, law, finance, and other service industries. We profile three alumni - Dennis Chookaszian, Sam Sperry, and Bob Puette - who credit much of their success to their experiences at McCormick.

We also highlight NUcorp, a new student organization that provides students with the opportunity to gain experience running a business during their undergraduate years at McCormick. This successful program, funded by the Walter P. Murphy Society, provides a much-needed outlet for the entrepreneurial spirit often found at McCormick.

McCormick faculty continue to be leaders in innovative interdisciplinary research. This issue features Fabián Bustamante, Karen Smilowitz, and Tito Homem-de-Mello and their unique application for distributed systems and optimization. We also highlight the work of Bartosz Grzybowski, a young faculty member who has received wide-ranging recognition for his work in dynamic self-assembly.

In a time when the world is becoming keenly aware of the importance of engineering and technology to the prosperity of the country, we realize our enormous responsibility. We must continue to innovate, to educate the public about our changing world, and to ensure that our faculty and students are focused on the future.

Julio M. Ottino, Dean
April 2006