BUILDING SOMETHING TRULY SPECIAL
them through the very real, customer-driven experience of bringing products and services to the market (Page 6). Excellence in design and discovery requires reliance on the questioning mindset of a liberal arts education, teamwork, hands-on skills and a rigorous technical education that are fomented together here at St. Thomas. We are hopeful that the year 2021 will be great inflection point in the arc of humanity and our work at St. Thomas. Plans for a new building integrating engineering and the arts are in the works, with final designs emerging as I write. The facility will showcase engineering and the value of broad perspectives on impactful solutions to our grand challenges and our critical goals of inspiring a generation of underrepresented groups in the engineering profession. As always, we are grateful for the vitality of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area’s manufacturing, technical and business community that supports our work. The connection we have with industry forms an integral part of the DNA of our school. We are blessed to be in this community that so energetically supports the growth of our unique brand of engineering. Our St. Thomas Engineer magazine is just a snapshot of what is going on here. I encourage you to drop us a line, follow us on LinkedIn or just plan a visit. We would love to give you a sense of the energy of our students, our faculty and the business community that surround us.
Every March, I am blessed to write this column to capture the essence of what comes alive in the current edition of St. Thomas Engineer magazine: an annual reflection on what has transpired in the School of Engineering and our direction going forward. Last March, it was impossible to anticipate what would transpire on the world stage and, in particular, in our own Minneapolis-St. Paul community. This has been an unforgettable, forgettable 12 months in our lives as a nation and in the lives of our St. Thomas community. In many respects, the content of this issue is no different. These pages embody how much we have stayed ALIVE in the midst of all of this. If anything, this terrible March-to-March cycle of our lives has reminded me of the resilience of the human spirit. Students and faculty are finding ways to fight through this, and as exhausted as everyone has been, they have managed to find our greatness amid this despair. We mourn our losses (and there have been many, including two of our strongest community advocates – see Pages 24 and 25), but this community still has found the light. We have somehow managed to celebrate every small sliver of joy that we have been blessed with in these times. We are building something truly special here in Minnesota. As one of the youngest engineering programs in the nation, we are grateful that we were not born wedded to 100-plus-year-old thinking of what engineering education must be. That’s why, as emphasized in the recently announced St. Thomas 2025 strategic plan, we will co-create relevant programs with industry that inspire creative problem-solving among our students and enable collaboration across programs. At the heart of this effort is the evolution of a national model of how to engage students in the Senior Design Clinic. This interdisciplinary, industry-centric program demands much of our students and takes
Dr. Don Weinkauf Dean, School of Engineering
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