PRISM Magazine  On-Line - October 1999
ASEE Today
Meet John Weese

by Maryam Miller

ASEE’s 1999-2000 president John A. WeeseAs ASEE's 1999-2000 president, John A. Weese brings a wealth of experience from his involvement in almost every aspect of engineering. In addition to holding faculty positions in engineering and engineering technology, he has been a department head, a dean, an engineer in private industry, and a research administrator at the National Science Foundation.

Long active with ASEE, Weese has held many different offices, including two terms on the Board of Directors, and is currently ASEE's campus coordinator at Texas A&M. He was elected an ASEE fellow in 1986 and is also a fellow and active participant in both ABET and ASME. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including ASEE's Frederick J. Berger Award in 1997.

Weese is currently a professor of mechanical engineering and the coordinator of engineering accreditation at Texas A&M University. As head of A&M's engineering technology department from 1986 to 1997, Weese focused on technological innovations, the development of an applied research program, the expansion of TAC-ABET accredited programs, and the development of international exchange programs. He has also served as engineering dean at Old Dominion University and the University of Denver.

"Engineering has been responsible for many of the remarkable strides made in this century and has set the stage for even greater progress in the future."

Weese received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering mechanics from Cornell University. He served in the military as a faculty member in the U.S. Air Force Academy's engineering mechanics department. His full-time industrial experience includes steam turbine design work with Allis Chalmers and structural dynamics work with The Boeing Company and Martin Marietta.

With such a wide range of experience, including numerous leadership positions, Weese is well prepared to take ASEE into the next millennium and guide the organization in new directions. "This is a propitious time for benchmarking, setting innovative new objectives, and placing cornerstones for the next phase," he says.

 

Diversifying the Membership Base

    A strong membership base is a high priority for Weese because it is central to ASEE's strength. "It isn't just a matter of numbers but of youth and diversity as well," he says.

    To attract a more diverse base, ASEE needs to strengthen its direct appeal to faculty members through participation of its officers in regional meetings, closer support of campus representatives, and further expansion of its Web site, Weese explains.

    "I encourage [ASEE's] division chairs to include young members in their activities as much as possible," he says. "I would ask campus reps, of whom I'm one, to make a special effort to invite faculty members born outside the United States to become ASEE members."

    Additionally, ASEE needs to broaden its membership to include more engineers from industry and government. "To do this," says the new president, "ASEE needs to strengthen its involvement in lifelong learning, develop a database of distance learning methodologies and technologies, and expand the already successful CIEC meetings.

    "It's important for ASEE to focus on young, tenure-track faculty, part-time faculty from industry, and industry-based engineers and educators conducting the in-company training of engineers and educators."

Widening the Boundaries

    Another area that Weese will focus on is the expansion of ASEE's scope within the educational system, as well as its alliances with international societies.

    Weese says he would like to expand ASEE divisions in disciplines within the educational system that are devoted to university-based research, graduate study, two-year institutions, and continuing education. "ASEE recently initiated a new effort to become a clearinghouse for information about continuing education," he notes. Weese also recognizes the value of bringing engineering closer to the university's core, making connections across the disciplines, and educating nonspecialists.

    But the emphasis cannot be placed solely on higher education. Weese stresses that a strong K-12 education is an important part of ASEE's agenda. "Having taught sophomore-level mechanics three times in the past couple of years, I understand the significance of K-12 preparation and a solid mathematics and basic science foundation," he says. He believes that a physics background is a good indicator of success in the study of engineering, and says that ASEE is trying to collaborate with the American Association of Physics Teachers.

    Finally, Weese says it is important to promote the Society's international relations with other organizations. ASEE has expanded its interactions with international professional and technical societies and is continually seeking to work cooperatively with engineering education societies in other parts of the world.

    Weese knows that not all of his goals for the coming year will be accomplished, but is excited about the possibilities. "Engineering has been responsible for many of the remarkable strides made in this century and has set the stage for even greater progress in the future," he says. Under the leadership of John Weese, ASEE is sure to play a big part.

     

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