Category Archives: 2020 Strategic Plan

Life Takes Engineering

Life Takes Engineering

Life Takes Engineering…Speed School Delivers.

People often ask me to explain what engineers do.  I always say the same thing.  “Look around you.” Everything you see was designed, manufactured and delivered through the use of engineering. EVERYTHING!  Not just the obvious techie sort of things like the computer on your desk  or the cell phone in your hand, but the ho-hum things like the carpet on the floor, the paint on the walls, the lights overhead, and the electricity powering those lights. And I’m not only referring to the engineering required to design the products themselves. There’s even more engineering required to design the processes to make and deliver those items to you.  For example, to make carpeting  (designed by chemical engineers) you need a huge factory,  structurally designed by  civil engineers, with equipment  laid out by industrial engineers, filled with machines, conveyors, forklifts, computers and controls designed  by mechanical,  electrical, and computer engineers. And I haven’t even gotten to what it takes to store it, transport it, and install it.  All that just to make carpet? Yeah, and that is one product. Now, I ask you to look around the room you are in right now. If you really take the time to look closely, you will see hundreds, maybe thousands, of individual items; each one requiring engineering for its design and production.

Bottom line, we need engineers to produce what life demands.  The sad fact is, however, we as a nation, are not producing enough engineers each year.  The US produces less than 100,000 engineering BS degrees per year.  That number needs to go WAY up if we are to remain competitive.  To do this, kids from a very young age have to be exposed to engineering, math, and science and they need to know what engineers do.  Speed School prides itself on its outstanding outreach efforts that attract thousands of elementary and high-school kids to participate in engineering camps and activities.  To learn more about those programs, visit our website,

We all need to do more to fill the engineering pipeline with talented young people so that they can meet the complex needs of society in the coming decades.

John S. Usher, Associate Dean, Speed School


J.B. Speed Building

Since its founding in 1925 as a memorial to the late James Breckenridge Speed, the J.B. Speed School of Engineering has been recognized as a premier, metropolitan engineering institution. The School has been built on a foundation of exemplary faculty and staff, talented and committed students, outstandingly accomplished alumni, and generous donors. It is a special place where the dreams of many for a better life and better world have been empowered. The Speed School community is proud of its long history of accomplishments in engineering education, scholarship, and service to the community.

But there are many challenges and unknowns ahead.

  • What will engineering education look like in 15-20 years?
  • How should we prepare for and lead in a time of disruptive change?
  • What must we do to ensure access to engineering education in an environment of eroding public financial support?
  • On what areas of research should we focus to best respond to societal needs and fulfill aspirations of national prominence?
  • How can we best impact the economic development of our region and contribute to the wellbeing of our community?

These are just a few of the many questions that the Speed School community collectively considered in developing a road map for the future. The 2020 Strategic Plan, defines clear directions and the vital tasks required to continue to powerfully launch the dreams of generations of students to come, to enable research discoveries that transform the human condition, and to ensure the betterment of our community.