Plenary Speaker Profile (2009-10)
Richard K. Miller
President of College and Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
How Does Engineering Differ from Science?

College students today don't remember when computers didn't exist. The Internet, cell phones, and 24 x 7 connectivity have been central to their life for as long as they can remember. But test scores reveal that math and science competency of American students remain substantially below those of students in many other countries, even some developing countries. How can we introduce young students to the difference between science and engineering? What can be done to better engage engineering students in the learning process, unleash their creativity in design, infuse them with entrepreneurial thinking, greatly enhance their ability to communicate persuasively, and make them highly effective team players and leaders? Olin College, a brand new independent 4-year engineering college, was established about 10 years ago with a gift of more than $460 million for the specific purpose of developing a new paradigm for engineering education to address these concerns. It is one answer to the question: If you could start over in higher education, what would you do to address these concerns about the preparation of the Engineer of 2020? This talk will provide insights from 10 years of experimentation in engineering education.

Richard K. Miller became the first President and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in 1999. He served as Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor at the University of Iowa from 1992-1999, and spent the previous 17 years on the engineering faculties of the School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (where he served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs) and the University of California, Santa Barbara. A native Californian, Dr. Miller earned his B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1971 from the University of California, Davis, where he also received the 2002 Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award. In 1972, he earned his M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1976 he earned his Ph.D. in Applied Mechanics from the California Institute of Technology. He has won five teaching awards from two major universities. Dr. Miller's research interests are in structural dynamics and nonlinear mechanics with application to earthquake engineering and spacecraft structural design. He is the author or co-author of about 100 reviewed journal articles and other technical publications. He has been a consultant to many companies including the Aerospace Corporation, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Hughes Aircraft Company (now Raytheon), and Astro Aerospace Corporation (now Northrop Grumman). Dr. Miller's interests as a university leader go considerably beyond engineering and include innovation in undergraduate education, business entrepreneurship, and academic administration.