Engineering deans bring ideas and issues to Capitol Hill

(L to R) Dean Toutanji with Leo Kempel, dean of MSU’s College of Engineering, and Wayne Pennington, dean of Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering.


Deans from engineering colleges across the country met in Washington, D.C., in early February at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) to share ideas and discuss common concerns. Some 150 deans from both public and private universities participated. They also spent time with legislators and legislative staff to talk about education issues impacting the state. Dean Toutanji, from WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences -- along with the deans from Michigan State University and Michigan Tech -- met with the legislative assistants to Senators Debbie Stabenow (D) and Gary Peters (D), and the staff of representatives Fred Upton (R), Jack Bergman (R) and Mike Bishop (R).

Toutanji said discussions were focused on federal student aid, ways to strengthen the STEM pipeline, national manufacturing initiatives, and concerns about future funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The impact of the proposed travel ban was also discussed.

“Our meetings with legislative staff were very valuable,” Toutanji said. “They understand the crucial role of engineering schools and our economic impact on the state, as well as our importance in educating a new generation of inventors and innovators.”