Growing Pains: Engineering School Copes With Expansion



As the School of Engineering faces record enrollment, the school is hiring more faculty and taking other initiatives to accommodate students in the Leo Engineering Building.

“The students come first, and we always think how it affects the students,” Dean of the School of Engineering Timothy Ward said.

Since 2008, the full time undergraduate population has risen by thirty-five percent. The graduate school has been consistent over the last few years, but the School of Engineering hopes to increase those sizes in the upcoming years while keeping the undergraduate ratio the same.

As more students flood into the Leo Engineering Building each year, class sizes have been slowly increasing. Professors are now teaching several sections of the same class each day.

“It is our intention to not increase class sizes,” Ward said. “It is not in our best interest for the students.”

Due to the increased amount of students, the school is working with Provost William Clyde and the college administration to hire new faculty members in the mechanical, civil, chemical and electrical engineering departments.

There are approximately forty-five full time faculty now and the school is looking to hire professors in the tenure and non-tenure track.

The department of electrical engineering is also hiring a new chair as the current chair, Dr. Gordon Silverman, is retiring at the end of this academic year. The department has worked with current students to help evaluate the different candidates who applied to this position.

“It’s good that the electrical department let the students evaluate the candidates for this position,” said Marisol Plaza, president of the Manhattan College chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering.

“The most important aspect of this evaluation process was the question and answer section,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that our professors were able to address our primary concerns.”

A newly created Master Plan Committee made up of both administration and students will address the primary concern of fitting students into the Leo Engineering Building.

During the summer, administrators will be working with architects and other engineers to come up with innovative designs to expand current facilities. They are currently looking to either expand the Leo Engineering Building or consider a new building in the future.

Andrew Ryan, the Vice President of Facilities, is the facilitator and chairperson of the board.

The reasons for the School of Engineering’s expansion are a reflection of national trends and students’ desires to find employment.

“There’s a national growth as more students are interested in going into professions that help them have a better life, and people are recognizing that as you get trained to be an engineer, there are different things you can go into: business, law, medicine,” Ward said.

However, not all professors are happy with the school’s approach to increase its size.

“We don’t have the capacity in the school to increase size,” said Dr. Moujalli Hourani, chair of the department of civil and environmental engineering.

“We are very tight already, especially in our laboratories, he said. “The best thing for us to do is to know who we are. We keep trying to be something that we are not. We must decide who we are going to be. We should keep focusing on how we can do good within our constraints.”