Artist Paul Williams's rendering of ECS's new environmental systems laboratory complex in Link Hall.

The college's four Meredith Professors, left to right: Sam Clemence, Barry Davidson, Shobha Bhatia, and Shiu-Kai Chin.
Looking Forward

With the inflation of the 1980s, industry cut back on many benefits it had made available to employees in better economic times. By the end of the decade, IBM had closed its SU-affiliated off-campus education centers. At the same time, SU experienced a decline in its student population. Cuts in faculty and programs were necessary, and the task of overseeing the reduction fell to Strait, who was dean of the college in 1990-91. “Our situation was enormously accentuated because of the number of faculty members working in the off-campus centers,” he says. “Our faculty was about twice the size it would have been, especially in electrical engineering, where we had about 40 professors and needed only 20. Fortunately, there were a lot of us for whom the timing of the cuts matched the age we planned to retire. I was the first to sign up for what was called the ‘supportive resignation’ program, which probably reduced the faculty faster than the academic program needed. Many of us really enjoyed teaching still, and we stayed on as adjunct professors.”
      Catherine Ferrie, who earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1993, was a student during the downsizing, but she remembers her time at SU only in positive terms. Ferrie, a researcher at Bell Helicopter, worked with Meredith Professor Barry Davidson on undergraduate research using composite materials. “The faculty was absolutely wonderful, not only as researchers but also in the classroom,” Ferrie says. “Professor [John] LaGraff [chair of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Manufacturing Engineering] gave me the chance to tutor freshmen and sophomores, which was a great experience. I got to know the faculty that way. Professor Davidson started me in composite materials, and he was so excited about the topic that he got all his students fired up about it. He’s so bright and loves research, but he’s also a great teacher—and his excitement is contagious.”
The new labs in Link Hall
      Davidson is one of four Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professorship of Teaching Excellence award recipients now on the college’s faculty, along with Shobha Bhatia; Sam Clemence, professor of civil and environmental engineering; and Shiu-Kai Chin ’75, G’78, G’86, professor of electrical engineering and computer science. The Meredith Professorship is one of the highest honors that SU faculty members can achieve, and only 13 individuals from throughout the University have won the award.
      Bogucz believes ECS has fully recovered from the cuts of the early ’90s. A $4.5 million renovation of Link Hall’s fourth floor was recently finished, creating a major new suite of laboratories to support teaching and research in environmental systems engineering. The college has also hired 12 new faculty members in the past five years.
steve sartori Professor John LaGraff
      Five years ago, ECS developed a strategic plan to enhance partnerships and identify opportunities for future collaborations. The plan focuses on partnerships in such selective areas as communications and information systems, environmental systems, biomedical systems, and infrastructure systems. “Over the last five years we have significantly strengthened our relationships with firms regionally and nationally,” Bogucz says. “We are especially looking to our sister institutions, including the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and SUNY Upstate Medical University.”
      Bogucz cites an emerging partnership among several local institutions as the kind of collaboration in which he expects ECS to be involved. The initiative focuses on developing the next generation of integrated environmental systems, which combine advances in multiple fields to improve human health and performance, and energy efficiency. “This is a classic example of what we can do,” Bogucz says. “The project w sill touch the entire campus, and Central New York has many companies that specialize in the area, like Carrier and McQuay International. This initiative involves the full breadth of academic resources in the community along with industry partners.”
                                                      steve sartori Professor, conducts an experiment with students.
      Bogucz believes the quality of SU’s academic programs is on par with or better than that of other institutions that are primarily engineering schools.
      He feels ECS offers students a learning experience beyond a pure academic grounding, with a wealth of opportunities to pursue interdisciplinary studies in conjunction with SU’s other schools and colleges, and to interact with practitioners in local industry. “We offer a distinctly fertile environment for learning engineering and computer science,” Bogucz says. “We have a rich history of preparing leaders for society, and we look forward to continuing this effort for centuries to come.”

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