Friday, July 22, 2022
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
In June, a remarkable student achievement prompted me to reflect on the evolution of this wonderful university. The achievement, you may recall, was the third-place finish by our Mars Rover Student Design Team in the international University Rover Challenge. This was not the first time that S&T has defied all odds to climb the ladder of recognition in this competition. The S&T team won that event in 2017, finished second in 2018 and placed fifth in 2019.
Our rover teams aren’t the only S&T organizations to achieve national and international acclaim for their achievements. In fact, several other student design teams have achieved great success, including our Human Powered Vehicle Team and Formula SAE Team. Our students are shining for their research excellence, and our early-career faculty are receiving national recognition. Faculty are also receiving national awards for their scholarly activities and major, multimillion-dollar grants to develop stronger, lighter steel, new materials for hypersonic vehicles, and methods to extract minerals from the moon, asteroids and, yes, even Mars.
So how did we get to this point of so many national and international achievements and recognition from our modest roots as a mining school? The answer, I believe, is that at every stage of its development, this institution rose to meet the nation’s critical needs while also looking forward in anticipation of future situations that would require training of the excellent workforce needed to provide critical contributions to critical challenges. At every stage, the university provided training, motivation, inspiration and mentoring required to provide the “street-ready” engineers, scientists and problem-solvers needed by industry, business and government on a global scale. A quick review of our history highlights the four stages of evolution:
Our past and its nostalgia is fuel for our future directions, and we are paving the road as we traverse it. The creation of four centers of excellence, 500 undergraduate scholarships, 100 doctoral fellowships, 20 endowed chair and professor positions, and nearly 300,000 square feet of new facilities for education, research and student innovation will help enhance and elevate S&T. From our origins as a mining school to a renowned research university, we now envision a new world of opportunities ahead of us, and we fully intend to continue to discover, educate and achieve our ambitious goals as set by our North Star.
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