Engineering Initiative Logo

Dean's message

Dean Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D. In January 2011, Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D. became dean of Saint Martin’s School of Engineering. She holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Polytechnic University, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MSME) from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (BME) from The Cooper Union. Prior to joining Saint Martin’s University, she served as professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. The following message is taken from remarks Dr. Kahn-Jetter delivered Feb. 10, 2011, celebrating the official launch of the Engineering Initiative.

The past generation of engineers has witnessed a dramatic transformation of their profession. At Saint Martin’s University, we are in the unique position to foster that transformation and prepare our graduates to face the challenges of a changed field. In response to these challenges, we welcome a new era in the University’s history.

The Saint Martin’s University strategic plan commits to "constructing an institution-defining Saint Martin’s experience for our students that encourages the examination and exploration of faith, the ongoing development and application of reason, and the practice of service." As the new dean of the Saint Martin’s University School of Engineering, and in the spirit of the strategic plan, my goal is to make our School of Engineering the engineering school of choice. I want people to think, "I want to study engineering; I want to go to Saint Martin’s University."

At Saint Martin’s, our primary responsibility is to train moral, ethical, skilled engineers who understand their unique role in, and responsibility to, society. As a university founded on Benedictine values, service to society is integrated into all engineering educational activities.

Engineers are the unsung heroes of society. We are the people responsible for ensuring the safety of drinking water and sewage systems, and designing roads and highways, cars, planes and so many things in contemporary life we take for granted. We are the people who need to develop sustainable solutions for preserving energy resources and cleaning up our world. We improve the quality of lives for people all over the world while having a minimal impact on our environment.

There are new technologies to help us meet our responsibilities — nanotechnology that deals with engineering systems on a molecular level, smart systems that provide constant monitoring of various systems, new advances in biotechnology and bio-medicine, energy resources, environmental issues, improved infrastructure, and the list goes on and on. There are also new ways in which engineering is done and the way engineering is learned. Sustainable technology is now the norm. Multi-disciplinary teamwork is expected, as is creativity and innovation. Learning is an active, hands-on process. Technology and business are global. As Thomas Friedman wrote, the world is flat. We need to embrace the world and its diverse population. This is in line with the Benedictine value of hospitality. Saint Martin’s treasures persons of all ages, religions and nationalities as it encourages cognizance of diverse viewpoints and an appreciation of all cultures.

At Saint Martin’s, we have an incredible opportunity to change the face of engineering education right here on our campus. Housed by the new state-of-the-art engineering building, our program can be a model for other institutions to follow.

I see the new engineering building as a gateway to the future, as a place to foster this growth in our undergraduate and graduate programs and to provide the opportunities necessary for scholarship. I see labs integrated with classroom or seminar space, where interdisciplinary collaboration takes place between upper and lower classmen, between faculty and students, between different majors both in and out of the School of Engineering, and between our constituents both on and off campus. This building can be and should be the center of collaborative efforts with our community for projects, internships, training and facility sharing.

As a living laboratory and classroom, this building will provide the students with an experiential learning education. Instead of simply seeing pictures and symbols of beams, columns and control systems in a textbook, the students will see them, and maybe even work with them, in real life. Students will have an opportunity to not only learn about new technologies and engineering design in the 21st century, but they will be a part of the learning and education environment.

I want to excite Saint Martin’s students — those who are here and those who have yet to come. I know we will. We are serious about the future.

I am thrilled to be a part of the Engineering Initiative, and I hope all of you will join me in this vision.

Thank you!

Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D.
Dean, Saint Martin’s University School of Engineering