Office of the President

Dr. Patrick T. Harker is the 26th president of the University of Delaware. He also serves as professor of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.

E-Week 2014 Kickoff
Mitchell Hall
November 15, 2013

Watch the webcast

Welcome to everyone here at Mitchell Hall on the beautiful University of Delaware campus, and to all of you out there watching online! I’m Patrick Harker, president of the University—and I’m an engineer! It’s fantastic to kick off Engineers Week 2014 with all of you.

I thank Discover-E for organizing E-Week, for engaging the public in the work and the world of engineers and helping to build a dynamic corps of engineers on the front lines of solving our biggest global problems.

I thank our 2014 co-chairs: IEEE–USA and DuPont. I’d call DuPont a “partner,” but actually, they’re more like family. We wouldn’t be the institution we are today without DuPont. They’ve shaped our campus and strengthened our programs. In fact, it was DuPont that “loaned” us the legendary Allan Colburn to elevate our acclaimed chemical engineering program 75 years ago.

UD has a long and strong tradition of engineering education. We’ve been at it since the early 19th century. And when we became one of the nation’s first land-grant institutions, it solidified our commitment to the discipline as the way to achieve practical solutions to persistent problems, to help the public at large and to serve the common good.

My path to engineering began by watching my father, a construction worker. It became a fascination, seeing things take shape and grow. It still is. I’ve gone from building physical structures, to building software, to building organizations. And I see in my engineering colleagues that same energy, that same eagerness to build, to fix, to transform.

And that’s why I think engineering is much more than a skill set; it’s a state of mind. And we’d do well to cultivate in all students the attributes that tend to describe engineers: intellectual agility and inventiveness, flexibility, a penchant for problem-solving.

We need to grow and diversify our pipeline of engineers, so that everyone with a stake in our shared challenges has a stake in their solutions. We need to work with our colleagues in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, business and the arts to look at issues holistically and address them collaboratively. And, again, this involves building—building bridges to the people and disciplines and organizations that will partner with us in creating the future we want.

Discover-E and E-Week are building these bridges. And all of us at UD are thrilled to help. I’m personally thrilled to have so many incredible UD students and faculty and staff with us today to begin these conversations.

Of course, I’m not the only engineer up here. The stage is full of them, including the person I’ll turn this webcast over to.

University of Delaware Provost Domenico Grasso is an environmental engineer and founder of the first-ever engineering program at a women’s liberal arts college. He’ll lead our panel discussion today. Domenico?

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