Welcome to the start of the 2015-16 academic year in our School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). We continue to register growth in all our programs, with the number of undergraduates in SEAS exceeding 600 (compared to last year’s 538) and the number of full-time faculty now at 22 (up from last year’s 19).
Of course one of the factors driving this increase in overall enrollment is the continually increasing size of our first year contingent of students. Obviously more and more college applicants are recognizing the value of science and technology degrees, and nationwide engineering enrollments are on the rise. The numbers here at Hofstra are still somewhat preliminary, but the latest count indicates we will have over 200 new first year Engineering and Computer Science majors. That is about 10% higher than last year’s count. It is interesting to delve into these numbers a little more deeply to see what the profile of this class is. They split about 68% Engineering and 32% Computer Science in choice of major. Women account for 23% of the Engineering group and 18% of the Computer Science group. About 30% are from outside the state of New York, representing 17 other states and 7 other nations. Of course, given the rich ethnic diversity of the metropolitan area, many of the in-state students come from a multiplicity of cultures as well. We also have a record number of students (about 20% of the total) participating in the Honors College Culture and Expression first year program.
Our first year curricula continue to evolve in ways calibrated to ensure the best preparation for the major-specific courses that start with the second year. We are constantly evaluating what skills need most to be developed to help students attain both academic and professional success. Times have certainly changed since the days when I was a college student, when we pored over textbooks (which weren’t as expensive as they are now!), and did hand calculations and drawings, and went to the library to look up information. Now all these tools are at students’ fingertips, but proximity and ease of use do not guarantee understanding of the significance of what information is out there. Gifted educators are still the key, and that is where my colleagues in the SEAS faculty come into the picture.
The 2015-16 academic year will hold surprises and challenges for all of us here, but the satisfaction of seeing the light go on in students’ minds makes all the time and effort that go into planning lectures and labs especially rewarding. That is why I look forward each year to this time, and it will be my pleasure to keep you informed about what goes on in SEAS as this year unfolds.