Watson School launches 30th anniversary celebration
By Eric Coker
The Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science kicked off its year-long 30th anniversary celebration with a reception June 14 at the Innovative Technologies Complex.
"It is remarkable to look at how the Watson team has been able to achieve as much as it has over a short period of time," Dean Krishnaswami "Hari" Srihari said of the school that began on June 15, 1983. "We built on a superb foundation created by the School of Advanced Technology. Today, the Watson School has surpassed what initial expectations were."
The event at the ITC rotunda drew more than 150 administrators, faculty, staff, students and research and industrial partners from the community. James Carrigg, former chairman, chief executive officer and president of New York State Electric & Gas Corporation (NYSEG) and one of the Watson School Founders, also attended. More anniversary events will be planned for the 2013-14 academic year.
Other speakers included Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Donald Nieman; Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo; Vice President for Research Bahgat Sammakia; Senior Vice Provost for Strategic and Fiscal Planning Michael McGoff; Watson Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration Peter Partell; Watson alum Michael Testani, MS '02, a learning consultant and portfolio manager at IBM; and Denise Lorenzetti, director of Watson career and alumni connections.
Srihari touted the progress of the Watson School, noting that it has grown by 800 students over the past 10 years.
"Out research and scholarship has grown," he said. "Our (researchers) are producing patents and working in the community through different programs. Our alumni outreach team is doing very well."
Nieman also reflected on that growth, emphasizing that applications to the school have increased by 40 percent since 2008 and that average SAT scores are up by more than 60 points in the same time period.
"Watson has become nationally and internationally respected in the world of academics, engineering and research," Nieman said. "It has also been an essential element to Binghamton University's rise as a major research university. Without Watson, Binghamton would not be where it is today as a research university."
The Watson School also has developed global partnerships and become a leader in flexible electronics, sensors and energy-efficient computing, Nieman added.
"You have not only built an outstanding engineering school, but you have helped to elevate the entire University," he said.
McGoff, who Partell introduced as a "legend" instrumental in creating the foundation that led to the Watson School's success, provided some history about the origin of the school. McGoff, who has served in roles such as acting dean of the School of Advanced Technology and acting chairman of the Department of Computer Science, also praised Founding Dean Lyle D. Feisel.
"I worked with Lyle Feisel for 18 years and I can testify that he never wavered in his determination to create superb academic programs and leading-edge research."
Although McGoff is no longer directly part of Watson, the school remains close to his heart.
"Over the years, I've watched the Watson School – sometimes from within and for the last 14 years or so from a distance," he said. "I have never – and will never – stop being anything but intensely proud of what we all have created here."
Lupardo presented Srihari with a proclamation from Albany honoring the Watson School for its 30 years of achievements. She also called for more women to get involved in engineering.
"Engineering is an attractive [field] for women to get involved in," she said. "Women want interesting engineering innovations and we must do a better job of encouraging more women to get involved in these fields."
While Srihari saluted the Watson School's infrastructure and buildings, he pointed to one factor as instrumental to the school's success.
"All of this has been made possible by a superb team working together as one Watson with one vision and one team," he said. "The student is both our customer and our product."