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Learning and Research: Technology Serving Humanity


Technology serving Humanity: An inspiring theme for learning and research at Clarkson
Clarkson aims to increase the numbers of female students enrolled in engineering through new initiatives in bioengineering and rehabilitation engineering.
Clarkson aims to increase the numbers of female students enrolled in engineering through new initiatives in bioengineering and rehabilitation engineering.


Recognized for world-class research and excellence in undergraduate learning, Clarkson is dramatically expanding the impact it exerts to improve people’s lives. A grant of $30 million from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation — the largest gift in this institution’s history — has set Clarkson on a clear path for a most exciting and productive future.

The Coulter funds will propel Clarkson forward in five related areas at the academic heart of this university:
  • Colloid and particle science and engineering, faculty expertise, and scholarship
  • Team project-based learning opportunities in engineering education
  • A new initiative in bioengineering and rehabilitation engineering
  • Laboratory upgrades
  • And scholarship assistance for students from underrepresented minorities.

In recognition of this generous gift, Clarkson has named the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering and dedicated it to a theme based on the vision of its namesake: “Technology Serving Humanity.”

A Campus-wide Enterprise
Engineering has always been the flagship school at Clarkson. But it has never operated in isolation on this campus. Today Clarkson's learning programs in business, science, liberal arts, and engineering are structurally integrated, while researchers from different disciplines work together to combine expertise to make advances on the frontiers of knowledge.


That’s why interdisciplinary initiatives have been such a natural for Clarkson. And that’s also why the theme “Technology Serving Humanity” resonates with meaning across its entire curriculum. Clarkson already connects people and technology in ways that are profoundly productive.


Harnessing Potential
Now, thanks to the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, Clarkson can do even more of what it does best as it pursues exciting and dramatic new initiatives.


The Foundation has enabled Clarkson to harness its expertise and focus on humanitarian directions in which it is already making significant strides. This infusion of resources allows it to carry forward the leadership of Clarkson faculty members, students, and alumni in making an even bigger impact in the world.


Technological Leadership
Clarkson is building on its historic traditions and the unique combination of strengths that it developed over its first century. The University positioned itself strategically for new 21st century initiatives through a major planning process in the early 1990s. On the academic side, this effort crystallized in a “Vision of a Clarkson Education” in 1995.


Clarkson's educational vision aligns its strengths with the needs of society in the next century.


Having a total enrollment just over 3,000, including 350 graduate students, Clarkson is among the very smallest nationally ranked research institutions. Clarkson is strong, however, in the research areas where it has focused its resources. And in both research and teaching, Clarkson's size often works to its advantage. It facilitates not only powerful collaboration among disciplines, but also a learning environment that promotes key leadership skill dimensions for a technological society:


1) Technological Mastery;
2) Creative Thinking;
3) Communication;
4) Teamwork;
5) Commitment to Service;
6) and Vision


Research Strengths
Clarkson’s early expertise in colloid and fine particle science and engineering led to the creation in 1986 of the Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP), a state-designated Center for Advanced Technology. With 26 faculty members from a variety of engineering and science programs, CAMP has created a model of interdisciplinary power focused on technology transfer. Last year its researchers garnered more than
$6 million in sponsored research.


Through projects like the off-road wheelchair, Clarkson is building technical abilities and the skills in collaboration and open-ended problem solving that are needed in today’s professional environment.
Through projects like the off-road wheelchair, Clarkson is building technical abilities and the skills in collaboration and open-ended problem solving that are needed in today’s professional environment.

Team Learning: A Model of Success
At the same time, the focus on team project-based learning has drawn national recognition to Clarkson’s innovation and effectiveness in teaching. True to its educational vision, Clarkson is building technical abilities and the skills in collaboration and open-ended problem solving that are needed in today’s professional environment.


For example, in 2002 the academic team competition program called SPEED was recognized by the 38-member Corporate and Foundation Alliance (CFA), which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation to identify the strategies that have the greatest potential for preparing engineers, scientists, and technicians for the 21st century workforce. SPEED was honored for its "exemplary effort to improve teaching and learning in undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education."

In 2002 Clarkson students also took first place in IBM’s Linux Scholar Challenge, thanks largely to a team project-based class in open-ended problem solving.


Clarkson's Physical Therapy Program has formed a partnership with the nearby Canton–Potsdam Hospital to create a state-of-the-art treatment and learning facility.
Clarkson's Physical Therapy Program has formed a partnership with the nearby Canton–Potsdam Hospital to create a state-of-the-art treatment and learning facility.

PT:A Health-related Degree
In 1996, during the last board meeting that Wallace Coulter attended at Clarkson, Clarkson initiated its first health-related degree program: a master’s degree program in Physical Therapy (PT). It formed a partnership with the nearby Canton–Potsdam Hospital to create a state-of-the-art treatment and learning facility.


The impact of this program has been huge. Overnight it brought a reservoir of health care expertise to campus while significantly broadening offerings for students. In addition, PT created a new two-way bridge between Clarkson and the outside community. It also gave engineering students in client-based design projects a new perspective on the needs of the end user.


Bridges Into The Marketplace
Meanwhile, the University’s School of Business has also been busy building bridges between campus and the larger world. In 2002 Clarkson was first runner-up for the National Award in Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Education, which recognizes innovative and effective undergraduate programs.


Such team-based experience is the cornerstone of all the school’s programs, including a variety of project teams that work with MBA students in the Clarkson Consulting Group to provide services to off-campus, fee-paying clients.


Engineering and Human Progress
Engineering is an exciting and powerful vocation filled with opportunities for doing beneficial work.


Technology not only turns dreams into reality, it spurs Clarkson to bigger dreams, sparks imagination, and expands its vision of possibilities. Engineers use technology to transform the world and to make the lives of people better.


The reason for all technological innovation and development is to make an impact (sometimes indirectly) on human lives. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Science without humanity is one of the seven deadly sins.”


Society’s Misperception
Nevertheless, engineering is not widely perceived as a vocation or career with the kind of humanitarian possibilities that are offered in fields such as medicine or law.


In part, this is because technological institutions have typically presented engineering education as a means to a solid career for bright students who like gadgets. Many have over emphasized the importance of competence in a narrow range of technical skills.


Too often ignored is the need for creativity and imagination in solving problems. More significantly, prospective students do not connect the idea of engineering with the fact that technology is used to improve lives in many ways, such as making advances in health-related and environmental fields.


Clarkson seeks to change this perception through "Technology Serving Humanity."


Clarkson can significantly increase the numbers of female students who enroll in engineering through a new thrust in bioengineering and rehabilitation engineering.
Clarkson can significantly increase the numbers of female students who enroll in engineering through a new thrust in bioengineering and rehabilitation engineering.

Humanitarian Possibilities
One result of these narrow perspectives: there are relatively few women engineers. Nationally, while female enrollment in medical programs or the life sciences is 50 percent, fewer than 20 percent of engineering students are women. At Clarkson, women comprise 20 percent of total engineering students, including those in Interdisciplinary Engineering and Management, and 26 percent of students overall.


Clarkson can significantly increase the numbers of female students who enroll in engineering through a new thrust in bioengineering and rehabilitation engineering. These areas involve development of assistive and adaptive devices that help people with disabilities to live more fulfilling and comfortable lives. Biomaterials are also used in medical implants and in environmental clean up.


We believe that learning and research in these areas will broaden awareness of humanitarian potential and outcomes throughout the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering.


A Defining Event
By enabling Clarkson to build on its strengths, the $30-million gift from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation will dramatically increase its academic power. This is indeed a defining moment in Clarkson history.


In research, Coulter funds will encourage the exploration of the interdisciplinary frontiers of engineering and science in new materials, nanotechnology, and in robotic and the electrical and mechanical development of assistive devices.


In undergraduate education, this gift promotes Clarkson's most successful opportunities in team project-based learning. It also provides new possibilities for collaboration between technology-based engineering and science programs and the entrepreneurial thrust and consulting teams in the School of Business. In addition, Clarkson will broaden opportunities for students from groups now underrepresented in technological fields.


In these ways, the Coulter gift will make Clarkson even stronger as it is guided and inspired by a powerful and compelling theme: “Technology Serving Humanity.”