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Engineering Dean Delivers Keynote Address at NASA Langley Program for Middle School Counselors

oktay-baysal-nasaOktay Baysal

Oktay Baysal, dean of Old Dominion University's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, gave the keynote address at a daylong session Feb. 27 for middle school counselors, aimed at getting more students interested in engineering studies.

The "Is There an Engineer Inside of You" Engineering Workshop for Counselors was hosted by NASA Langley Research Center, in an effort to find and nurture the next generation of aspiring student and professional engineers. ODU, one of the event's co-sponsors, participated in breakout sessions and provided an exhibit promoting ODU as a hands-on, career-focused engineering program close to home.

In total, 125 participants attended the session, including 87 middle school counselors.

Baysal, a professor and Eminent Scholar in aerospace engineering who came to ODU in 1982, has done significant research at NASA Langley Research Center throughout his career, and is a past recipient of the NASA Public Service Medal. In his remarks to the middle school counselors, he attempted to answer the question, "Why does engineering matter?"

After describing engineering in his own words, Baysal spoke about what an engineer does, and emphasized ODU's commitment to STEM education, which he said extends across every college at the university.

"Engineers use their imagination and analytical skills to invent, design, build things that matter," Baysal said. "They are team players with independent minds, who change the world by dreaming up
creative, practical solutions."

Tailoring his remarks to the middle school counselors in the audience, Baysal used statistics to show how engineers can make a good living. He also identified the types of students who become successful engineers.

Baysal highlighted the value of Project Lead the Way, a national initiative that exposes prospective engineering students to hands-on exercises that create a strong foundation for further learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

"It promotes problem solving, teamwork and innovation, as well as further exploration of STEM careers," Baysal said.

In closing, Baysal encouraged the middle school counselors to be on the lookout for students with aptitude for math and science, a willingness to work as part of a team, and a desire to find out how the world works, to help nurture the next generation of engineering minds.

ODU career advising staff led a breakout session at the workshop on the connection between preparation in middle school and high school, and success in college and beyond. The session, "Preparation! How Academics and Activities at All Levels Can Enhance Success," was directed by Bonita Anthony, director of advising and assistant director of the Engineering Fundamentals Division, and Bev Forbes, director of experiential education and Career Management liaison to the Batten College.

ODU's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology offers an engineering education that takes advantage of the unique characteristics of the Hampton Roads area and of the university.

An engineering education at Old Dominion has a number of distinct advantages, including: an Engineering Fundamentals Division, which immediately engages freshman engineering and technology students in practical activities to allow students to experience the entire professional spectrum; an integrated five-year B.S./M.S. program; a multidisciplinary focus; and the country's only undergraduate program in modeling, simulation and visualization engineering.