What are your thoughts about outreach to our global population of engineering alumni?
I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the number of alumni who have reached out after hearing I’d been named dean. Alumni have expressed strong willingness to stay engaged and contribute to the success of the next generation of students.
As I did while department head of EECS, I plan to have alumni serve in various advisory roles as we develop and implement the school’s strategic priorities. I want alumni to become engaged in mentoring students for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship programs such as SuperUROP, the Sandbox Innovation Fund Program, and UPOP. In addition, there are also plenty of opportunities, such as StartMIT, to invite alumni to share practical perspectives and career choices with our students
I hope to maintain strong lines of communication with our alumni, providing many forums to solicit feedback and suggestions. In particular, we plan to build up a richer digital presence and connect with alumni activity online.
How do you plan to engage with graduate alumni after they earn their degrees?
First, I hope to do even more to promote a welcoming and supportive culture for our graduate students while they are here on campus. Working with the departments and programs in the school, we can, for example, support more opportunities for career and leadership development. I plan to create a student advisory group that can help me prioritize and support these ideas and others.
Our graduate alumni can play a key role in mentoring our students with career choices and paths, helping them connect with resources that might aid their research or entrepreneurship activities, providing international students support on options including entrepreneurship, and, most importantly, helping our students gain even more confidence. We need to work on enhancing mechanisms for such engagement.
It is important to provide continuing support for our graduate alumni. We can do this through programming professional development and lifelong education, by creating opportunities to stay connected to on-campus research and educational activities, networking with current graduate students, and expanding access to MIT resources.
Can you tell us more about your ideas for how the school can connect with its alumnae during their careers, both in academia and industry?
Like a lot things that started at MIT and spread, Rising Stars is a mission-driven program and it focuses on strengthening the academic pipeline for top women graduates. We aim to be a lifelong learning institution for all of our alumni, and we believe that offering additional support, programming, and resources—particularly for alumni who are under-represented in the STEM community—is part of our mission.
How can MIT alumni get involved with the Engine?
MIT alumni are ideally suited for being involved with the Engine, as its focus is on translating deep technology-based innovations to startups that can have an impact on society. There will be many opportunities for alumni to engage—getting involved as founding members or on advisory boards of startups, serving as mentors, participating in and contributing to the Engine Room (equipment or domain expertise), or helping companies take the next steps as they graduate from the accelerator.
What makes MIT’s engineering alumni distinct?
MIT alumni are extraordinarily passionate about helping shape the future and they have a profound interest in the next generation of MIT students. They care deeply about issues on campus, and they are willing to share their insights and perspectives. Most importantly, they are willing to invest their most valuable resources—their time, expertise, and experience—to make MIT a better place. We are truly fortunate to have amazing alumni. I will count on them to help shape the future of engineering education, scholarship, research, innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship.