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Introducing Intellectual Neighborhoods

Dean FauchetIn addition to showcasing our groundbreaking research, this edition of Solutions presents a new way of looking at the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering.

This fall, we unveil the concept of intellectual neighborhoods, which focus on core competencies that we currently have established or are building upon. Intellectual neighborhoods cross disciplines and schools at Vanderbilt and even overlap each other in some of their research activity. They can be added to and phased out as the research funding landscape fluctuates and can easily adapt to trends in societal needs.

After going through this strategic exercise over the past year, I wasn’t surprised that our existing research centers and institutes closely align with these neighborhoods. And in fact, the university just recognized one of our neighborhoods—the former Vanderbilt Initiative in Surgery and Engineering—as a full-fledged institute, bookending the three-year effort of a loose group of researchers to organically create a highly productive research organization.

The neighborhood concept also seeks to include those faculty who do not align with a current center or institute. Neighborhoods are described broadly enough to involve all our tenure/tenure-track faculty, nearly all research faculty, and some teaching faculty. Most important, the neighborhoods guide our allocation of resources such as space, equipment, staff, and new programs, as well as new faculty hires.

Traditional departments continue to exist, but as we all know, department-centric research and other activity is obsolete in both small and large programs. This model will increase the already strong collaborative nature of the School of Engineering by adding to the nimbleness of how we respond to external pressures and influences.

I invite you to read more about our nine intellectual neighborhoods. In the following pages, we highlight our outstanding faculty and their recent accomplishments and the research capabilities of the neighborhoods. I welcome feedback from you on this unique way of looking at a research-intensive engineering school. 

Best regards,

Philippe Fauchet , Dean

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