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Vol. 4, No. 4, July 2007

Welcome to Engineering Our World, the MIT School of Engineering's free bulletin for alumni and friends. Updated six times yearly, Engineering Our World describes some of the work we're doing at the leading edge of technological change, providing news and articles of the School's major initiatives.Past Issues

Diet cola, baseball, and a bounty of person-to-person interactions:
Reflections on eight and a half years as dean

by Dean Thomas L. Magnanti

" These years as dean of . . . 'the best engineering school in the galaxy' have been exceedingly rewarding, fun, and invigorating."

Appreciation for the opportunities, the people

As I conclude my last days as dean of MIT’s School of Engineering, people have been asking me to share the high points, challenges, and other reminiscences with them. To say the very least, these eight and a half years have been active and exciting! The list of the School’s accomplishments runs long, as you know from reading our e-newsletters, and I’m delighted to recap some of them again below. I am often asked for a personal note as well. I admit that I’ve drunk a lot of diet cola sitting through an incalculable number of meetings! (But if you want to know how baseball fits in, you’ll have to read to the end.) Seriously, though, these years as dean of what I have often referred to as “the best engineering school in the galaxy” have been exceedingly rewarding, fun, and invigorating.

Considering in retrospect all the high points of new programs, initiatives, partnerships, transformations, and other strides made—all of which are extremely gratifying—and seeing that the School is still as vibrant as ever, is for me the most enjoyable aspect of my term as dean. That and the contacts and relationships with so many marvelous people stand out in a special way. Bottom line: it’s been a tremendous privilege to have been able to interact with such wonderful faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends; to represent the School of Engineering in a variety of quarters; and to participate in the national dialogue on important issues on behalf of the School and MIT. The person-to-person dealings have counted the most—the social interactions, the networking, the collaborations—these have been among the most satisfying occurrences in my tenure as dean.

The School has been innovating along many dimensions over the years I’ve served as dean, just as it has throughout its history and undoubtedly will do long into its future. The many achievements of our departments, laboratories, centers, and programs are far too numerous to mention here, but as a brief summary of some (mostly School-based) initiatives, let me point to the following (with due apologies for what likely are many oversights).