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