Dear Whiting School Community,
On the eve of the first day of classes, I had the opportunity to address and welcome our Class of 2021 at convocation. These students are among the most diverse and talented students ever admitted to the Johns Hopkins University, and I am optimistic about all they will accomplish both at JHU and beyond. You might be surprised to know that I spent those few precious moments asking them to consider this: Engineering alone is not enough to solve our most pressing challenges.
As engineers, we play a critical role in the world. Engineering, after all, is about using science to solve problems. I asked the students, to consider the number of people who die in automobile crashes every day—3,200, according to the World Health Organization. That’s 1.2 million people a year.
I suggested that self-driving vehicles are an engineering approach that promises to help solve this problem. Between 2009 and 2016, Google found that autonomous test cars were involved in only 14 collisions—13 of which were the result of human error. There is little doubt that autonomous vehicles have the potential to decrease traffic fatalities.
But this transportation revolution may have unintended consequences too: It has the potential to eliminate millions of American jobs in driving and associated industries. This is one example that makes it abundantly clear that engineering approaches may solve many economic and social challenges, but the changes that the introduction of such trailblazing new technologies bring with them require additional fields of inquiry well beyond engineering.
Finding workable solutions to the complex global challenges we face, from climate change and rising health care costs to our cities’ crumbling infrastructure, requires bringing to bear the collective expertise and points of view of engineers, lawyers, policymakers, ethicists, artists, economists, diplomats, and many others. Real solutions cannot and will not come from only one direction or perspective.
As I offered my welcome to our undergraduates on the start of their exciting journeys, I wanted to remind them not only to take advantage of this institution’s amazing breadth and depth of resources, world-class researchers, and caring and engaged professors but also to engage with their classmates, whose varied perspectives, experiences, and points of view will be a required resource in tackling all the complex challenges that will come their way.
Benjamin T. Rome Dean
T.E. “Ed” Schlesinger, Benjamin T. Rome Dean, Johns Hopkins University, Whiting School of Engineering
Ed Schlesinger is the Benjamin T. Rome Dean at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering where he also is a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
At Johns Hopkins, Schlesinger has launched numerous initiatives aimed at enhancing the student experience and the impact of the Whiting School of Engineering’s educational and research efforts on society. He has built educational, research, and outreach partnerships and has enhanced translational opportunities for Whiting School of Engineering faculty, students, and staff.
These efforts include the creation of the cross-divisional Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, a partnership between the Whiting School and JHU’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. They also include the launch of the Malone Center for Engineering in Healthcare, a partnership with the School of Medicine, the Applied Physics Laboratory and other JHU divisions that is aimed at enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, and consistency of health care, and helping lead a 10-year multimillion-dollar partnership between the Barclay Elementary/Middle School and JHU, community organizations, and the Baltimore City Schools to created pre-K through eighth grade school focused on engineering education and computer skills as a means to spark student achievement.
Prior to joining Johns Hopkins in 2014, Schlesinger was the David Edward Schramm Memorial Professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he also served as the director of the Data Storage Systems Center, associate department head in ECE, founding co-director of the General Motors Collaborative Research Laboratory, and director the DARPA MISCIC Center.
He has published over 250 articles and conference proceedings, and holds 13 patents. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the SPIE, was President of the ECE Department Heads’ Association and served on its board of directors, was a member of the International Advisory Panel for the A*STAR Graduate Academy in Singapore, was on the Advisory Board for the ECE Department at Georgia Tech and the Technology Commercialization Advisory Board for Innovation Works. He currently is a member of the Fellowship Evaluation Panel of the National Research Foundation of Singapore.
Schlesinger earned a BSc in physics at the University of Toronto and earned his MS and PhD in applied physics at the California Institute of Technology.
Technically Baltimore (11/12/15) “‘Think like an engineer’: This Baltimore City school is going all in on STEM”
WBAL-TV (11/12/15) “Johns Hopkins partners with Barclay Elementary-Middle School”
Baltimore Sun (11/12/15) “Hopkins opens new engineering lab in city elementary school”
Diverse Issues in Higher Education (8/30/15) “Engineering Deans Pledge Diversity Push”
JHU Gazette (May – June 2015) “Johns Hopkins team wants to build a better heart”
JHU HUB (9/2/14) “Johns Hopkins Engineering ushers in an new era with opening of Malone Hall”
Baltimore Business Journal (8/12/14) Google partnership can help Johns Hopkins researchers take ideas to market
JHU Gazette (3/6/14): “Looking Ahead with Johns Hopkins Engineering Dean Ed Schlesinger”
JHU HUB (1/31/14): “New Program Pairs Engineering Students with APL Mentors for Internships”
JHU Gazette (11/1/13): “Carnegie Mellon professor tapped to lead Whiting School”
SPIE (10/25/13): “SPIE Fellow Schlesinger appointed dean at Johns Hopkins”
ASEE Capitol Shorts (10//11/13): “…As a New Dean Takes Over at Hopkins”
JHU Hub (10/7/13): “Schlesinger Appointed Dean of Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering”
Baltimore Sun (10/7/13): “T.E. Schlesinger has been named the dean of engineering at Johns Hopkins University”
Johns-Hopkins News-Letter (10/7/13): “Hopkins appoints new Whiting School dean”