Welcome from the Chair

Natacha DePaola

The current challenges faced by humanity have no geographical or cultural boundaries, and engineers hold the key for innovative sustainable solutions. The Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) provides an excellent vehicle for engineering deans to network across the globe towards sharing knowledge and building on new partnerships that will leverage on combined strengths to address the complex global and local challenges we are all facing today. 

With a membership of over 550 engineering deans from five continents and our fast growing partnerships with industry and multilateral organizations, the GEDC continues its focus and commitment to support its members in the further development of leadership skills and opportunities to share best practices in areas of institutional management, curriculum development, corporate and public engagement, and inter-institutional educational and research partnerships.

In October 2017, hosted by McMaster University, we held the GEDC annual meeting in Niagara Falls, Canada. An outstanding program that included a workshop in change management and group brainstorming and plenary sessions on global grand challenges drew over 200 participants. Energy, Bioinnovation, and Smart Systems global challenges were discussed in interactive sessions. Plenary presentations discussing industry-academia interactions and the role of engineering and engineering deans in the 4th Revolution highlighted the meeting. The 2017 GEDC-Airbus Diversity Award resulted in the most diverse yet winning team: the BIRDS Satellite Project from the Kyushu Institute of Technology led by Taiwo Tejumola, bringing together students from several continents working at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan in the development of a technology with the potential to individually impact all regions of the world, and in particular under-served areas.

Several GEDC regional meetings were held in late 2017 (the Asian Engineering Deans Summit in Sydney, Australia, the African Engineering Deans Council Summit in Ota, Nigeria; GEDC-LATAM in Buenos Aires, Argentina; WEEF 2017 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and more are gathering around the world in 2018 (the Engineering Deans Institute in New Orleans, USA from Aprill 8-11; the GEDC-CaFIN Workshop in Chicago, USA on May 14; the Asian Engineering Deans Summit in Tokyo, Japan from May 21-23; the African Engineering Deans Council Summit in either Guinea or Malawi in mid 2018; GEDC-LATAM in late 2018),  leading to the 2018 WEEF-GEDC bi-annual meeting in Albuquerque, USA.

Hosted by the University of New Mexico (November 12-26, 2018), the theme of the Conference is: “Peace Engineering.” It promises to be a wonderful meeting which, among other novel events, will hold the first International Student Career Fair, bringing together employers and students from all over the world (on-site and on-line).

2018 marks the 10th Anniversary of the GEDC. We will celebrate the past, present, and future of GEDC into the next decade with a rich program in the WEEF-GEDC meeting in Albuquerque. Our executive committee is working on revamping our value proposition and the planning of a GEDC-specific program to attract global deans to the 2018 WEEF-GEDC meeting. 

Our ongoing efforts for facilitating the building of inter-institutional international research collaborations continue. The Carbon Free Innovation Network (CAFIN), which was conceived in our 2016 annual meeting in Adelaide, Australia, is going strong, growing on members and holding its next meeting in May 2018 in Chicago, USA, hosted by the Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER) at the Illinois Institute of Technology. 

A call for proposals to host the 2019 GEDC Annual meeting resulted in the selection of Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in the beautiful city of Santiago, Chile. Dean Juan Carlos de la Llera Martin, a long standing active member of the GEDC, is leading this event.

This year, we plan to increase our efforts on mobility to support the global exchange of programs, students and faculty (in person and virtual) to leverage on the various challenges and opportunities that exist around the world.  We will focus on building international partnerships on innovative engineering education and research programs of global impact that consider the local context, accounting for various stages of development of engineering education and differences or limitations in research resources found in different regions of the world. 

We are also working to increase the diversity of the GEDC membership, specifically working towards expanding and increasing participation of engineering deans from developing countries, as we look at mechanisms to provide effective access to the GEDC network with an increased engagement of local and global industry and the support of local governments. 

We will continue to develop new and strengthen our existing partnerships with industry and multilateral organizations, as we recognize the importance of their engagement and support in the success of our mission.

Engineering and technology are instruments for the advancement of humankind. Great world challenges spanning from struggling world economies, environmental and energy crisis, international warfare and conflicts, to social, educational, and health inequities represent great opportunities for engineers to contribute and make a difference.

I hope you will attend the upcoming meetings in your region and annual meeting in Albuquerque and if not a member yet, to consider to join us in our exciting journey to impact the world.