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Mark Matthews

Opening Lines

September is the month for introductions: Incoming freshmen get acquainted with campus life and each other.  Freshly hired instructors find their footing. At Prism, it’s usually a time to roll out a few changes. One of them is this From the Editor message, in which I will preview each issue’s offerings and explain why we think they’re worth your attention.  Although recently given the editor’s title, I’ve been working alongside a group of talented designers and writers at Prism since mid-2007, after many years as an editor and diplomatic correspondent for the Baltimore Sun.  

Also new this month is a column, “Leading Edge,” by former technology executive Vivek Wadhwa. He’s a computer engineer and M.B.A. who now teaches and conducts research at several universities, advising startups on the side. He has a lot to say, and will appear in rotation with new columns by Mark Raleigh, an engineering graduate student at the University of Washington, and Debbie Chachra, associate professor of materials science at Olin College. All three respond to what Norman Fortenberry, ASEE’s executive director, saw as a need to include a broader range of voices in Prism.

For first-year students who aspire to be engineers, their introduction too often turns out badly and they migrate to other fields. Fortunately, a number of engineering schools have recognized this and are revamping their first-year programs. As Associate Editor Mary Lord reports extensively in our cover story, “Seeing and Doing,” the changes are many and varied, but all share a goal of getting first-year students so excited about engineering they’ll persevere through years of demanding courses.

Freshly hired assistant professors face different challenges but have reason to feel similarly anxious. Many arrive with no serious training in how to teach and are suddenly required to learn their new craft while generating outside research funding and producing papers. For them, Margaret Loftus’s “Rules for Rookies” offers a survival guide. One key lesson can apply both to new faculty and freshmen: Don’t be shy about seeking help.

The coming year promises to be eventful and active for Don Giddens, ASEE’s new president. Recently retired as dean of engineering at Georgia Tech, he wants ASEE to become the go-to authority on engineering education. He elaborates in his first President’s Letter, which opens the ASEE Today section. You’ll learn from our profile, “Creating Buzz,” that Giddens has a track record of success in what he sets out to do.

We hope this and future issues will maintain the standard of high-quality journalism, art, and graphics set by longtime editor-in-chief Bob Black, who is taking on new responsibilities at ASEE as adviser for society affairs.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions on how Prism can better serve ASEE members.

Mark Matthews




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