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Assistant Professorhood: Your Very Own Startup Company

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Tricks of the Trade in Research

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.256.1 - 11.256.9



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Paper Authors


Jason Keith Michigan Technological University

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Jason Keith is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Michigan Technological University. His research and teaching interests are in heat and mass transfer, reaction engineering, and applied mathematics.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assistant Professorhood: Your Very Own Startup Company Abstract

“Congratulations! Our departmental search received over one hundred applicants; we interviewed a handful of excellent candidates; and we have decided to offer the position to you.” The typical response is “Great! Now what?”

Even at historically regional institutions, there has been a growing emphasis on funded projects and (often) graduate education. In other words: research, research, research. Developing your own identity in the engineering research community is akin to being CEO of your own startup company. Instead of focusing on profits and losses you need to write successful proposals, manage undergraduate and graduate research students, and publish papers. You have (typically) six years to succeed to satisfy your “stockholders” (university administration). Oh, and you have to be an excellent teacher and do service, too.

As such, this paper will discuss some of the aspects involved in developing a “nationally recognized” research program. Additional discussion will focus on integration of research, teaching, and service activities.

Introduction: Your University Is Counting On You

The challenge that faces almost every new faculty member is the same: get tenure. However, aside from stating that you are expected to teach, do research (also called scholarship), and perform service, colleges and universities rarely tell the new faculty member what is required to achieve this goal. This is because levels of scholarly productivity vary greatly depending upon discipline, culture of the department, history of the institution, and personal goals of the faculty member (this part is also known as “academic freedom”).

Within engineering, the means to success is relatively straightforward. The Assistant Professor is expected to perform research at levels concomitant with the “development of a national (sometimes international) reputation.” If you were to look at the strategic plans for many smaller institutions it often is to “increase in the U.S. News and World Report Rankings.” However, not every institution can be successful in doing this. If your institution moves up, someone else has to move down.

As a faculty member you have the potential to make a significant impact on the national reputation of your institution. This is especially true of Assistant Professors. When you are hired, the school is making an investment in you to help grow their reputation. Consider joining the faculty in 2006 at Average State U. with the offer shown in Table 1 below:

Keith, J. (2006, June), Assistant Professorhood: Your Very Own Startup Company Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--69

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