Back Issues

Greetings from Northwestern Engineering

A message from Dean Schuh

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO , when I arrived at the McCormick School of Engineering as a graduate student in materials science, I knew I had found the right place. The school's unique culture and systems gave me the flexibility to explore and room to grow.

That not only facilitated my educational and research journey, but it taught me a valuable lesson for the leadership roles I've held in my career: It is essential to support those you serve by giving them freedom to focus on their passions and take risks. Only then can they unleash their talents in the most innovative ways, ultimately redefining the directions of their fields.

As I returned to Northwestern Engineering as dean this fall, I found an even stronger school that had been nurtured by Dean Julio M. Ottino's enduring whole-brain engineering vision. Faculty, students, and alumni are all striving to use their unique skill sets to collaborate and tackle the complex challenges of our time.

Christopher A. Schuh

In this issue, you’ll find many examples of that. Our computer science faculty are teaming up with the Pritzker School of Law to understand the possibilities and limits of generative AI programs like ChatGPT. Professor Q. Jane Wang, who was recently elected to the National Academy of Engineering, is using her deep expertise in the study of friction to help design better electric vehicles. And several of our faculty have not only created solutions for a more environmentally sustainable future—they’ve launched startups to commercialize their ideas and move them out into the world. This sort of vertical integration is essential to ensure the technologies we develop are adopted by society to make real impact.

Maintaining that tenet of leadership I learned so many years ago—help when needed, otherwise get out of the way—I have begun meeting with departments, offices, and groups across the school to identify how we can further refine and grow Northwestern Engineering. It has been exciting, to say the least. Soon, I look forward to also connecting with alumni as we look to leverage all of our strengths and have the broadest possible impact.

This is going to be fun.

Christopher A. Schuh

Dean, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science