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Below is some background on why Mechanical Engineering students are unhappy, and what we discussed at our recent Town Hall meeting. We are pushing really hard for change, but it will not happen without your support!
The Mechanical Engineering students undergraduates are dissatisfied with our current situation. Recently, the Mech department held a town hall meeting to address the concerns of students and receive direct feedback. In attendance were Provost Miranda, Dean Thomas, Dean of Undergraduate Engineering, Dr. Saterbak, Associate Dean for Education, Dr. Schaefer, Mechanical engineering department chair, and every Mech faculty member. The student turnout was equally tremendous; Dean Thomas counted 158 total individuals present!
- The number of undergraduates is far too large for our department. We have 184 declared undergraduates and 9 tenured or tenure track faculty. In addition we have had several faculty go on sabbatical in the last few years (which they certainly deserve!) reducing this number to more like 7 T/TT faculty.
- Classes are then split into sections to limit student-to-faculty ratio, which results in adjuncts hired. These adjuncts are hired mere weeks in advance and have little to no teaching experience.
- Professors are overworked which means most don’t take on very many or any undergraduates for research positions. These opportunities were promised to us, and they simply don’t exist.
- Laboratory equipment is either scarce or several decades old. The MECH 331 lab is so packed, there are around eight to ten members per lab assignment meant for a group of three or four.
- At Rice, the English department has 25 T/TT faculty, while having a mere 46 undergraduate majors per year.
- Johns Hopkins and Carnegie Mellon have a similar number of mechanical engineering undergraduates and 28 and 26 T/TT faculty respectively! These universities have over three times the number of faculty!
The below infographic details the same information, and you may have seen it at the REA picnic on April 16, 2015!