Engineering Dean Galloway invited to White House

Vanderbilt University Engineering Dean Kenneth F. Galloway attended a White House event Feb. 8 to celebrate the efforts of engineering deans for their commitment to retain and graduate more students in the field of engineering.


Galloway was among about 40 engineering deans representing a broad spectrum of U.S. engineering programs that do well in retention as determined by the deans advisory council of the American Society for Engineering Education.

“It was an honor to participate in this special event. It affirms Vanderbilt engineering school’s commitment to excellence in engineering education and our goal to retain and graduate outstanding engineering students prepared to compete in a global marketplace,” said Galloway.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, other senior White House and National Science Foundation officials attended.  President Barack Obama made a brief appearance to welcome the group.

Obama greeted the roomful of engineering deans yesterday with a pledge to “use the bully pulpit to emphasize how important your work is” and an assurance that “everyone in this administration is four-square behind you,” the ASEE reported.

Obama spoke at the reception in the Old Executive Office Building for the Engineering Deans Council and leaders in the “10,000 engineers” initiative launched by the Jobs Council.

In June 2011, President Obama announced an initiative to train an additional 10,000 engineers to boost competitiveness and innovation. The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, led by Commerce Secretary John E. Bryson and CEOs of major corporations, is addressing the nation’s future in meeting its engineering needs.

The White House event is part of a public-private initiative by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to address the nation’s shortage of engineers. A national campaign – Engineering—Stay with It – launches this spring. The goal is to yield 10,000 more engineering graduates in the United States each year.

“America has always been about innovation,” as well as scientific inquiry, the president said, and has “an incredible diversity of talent out there waiting to be tapped.” He said that “for every Steve Jobs we need 10,000 others.”

Joining Duncan and Chu as speakers was Intel CEO Paul Ottelini, who is leading the ‘10,000 engineers’ effort. Ottelini said the private sector has raised $20 million toward the effort and promised to hire 7,000 first- and second-year engineering undergraduates as summer interns, according to an ASEE news release.

Galloway, who is past chair of the ASEE’s Engineering Deans Council, says the initiative furthers the council’s goal of at least a 10 percent increase in engineering graduates over the next decade.  According to the ASEE, the number of engineering bachelor’s degrees has grown steadily since 2000: 68,735 in 2009.

While Vanderbilt University boasts an enviable 92 percent six-year graduation rate, Galloway said the national trend is dismal. An ASEE survey of public and private institutions shows a four-year engineers’ graduation rate of 22 percent at the public schools and a 45-percent rate at the private institutions.