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31st Annual J.W. Hodgins Memorial Lecture - Peter Kilpatrick

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McMaster University University Club, Great Hall


The Purpose of Higher Education

Dr. Peter Kilpatrick
McCloskey Dean of Engineering, Notre Dame

Peter Kilpatrick serves as the McCloskey Dean of Engineering. An accomplished teacher and researcher, Kilpatrick joined the University in January 2008. He moved to Notre Dame from North Carolina State University (NCSU), where he had served as chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering since 1999. He had been a member of the NCSU faculty for a total of 25 years.

In this talk, we will explore the purpose and meaning of a University education and how students and faculty can and perhaps should derive that meaning.  In addition, we will explore the special character of an engineering education and what its meaning and purpose is and how we can ensure that our students and faculty have adequately bought into that purpose.  Ultimately, engineering students and faculty should be able to articulate clearly why they are engineers (or engineers in formation) and how their education enables and informs that purpose.  Engineers enjoy a unique position in society in that their profession both equips them to understand the nature of the very technical and interdependent world in which we now live and enables them to make innovations and changes to that world, hopefully for the better.  This twofold capability places extraordinarily somber obligations on engineers to ensure that they use their abilities with wisdom, prudence, and grace.