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Taking the Leap: Moving from Industry to the Academy

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session


Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1153.1 - 24.1153.10



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Paper Authors


William J. Schell IV P.E. Montana State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. William J. Schell holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering – Engineering Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Industrial and Management Engineering from Montana State University. He is an Assistant Professor of Industrial and Management Engineering at Montana State where his primary research interests are engineering education and the role of leadership and culture in process improvement with a focus on healthcare applications. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Schell spent over a decade in industry where he focused on process improvement and organizational development. This time included roles as VP of Strategy and Development for, VP of Operations Engineering for Wells Fargo Bank, leadership and engineering positions of increasing responsibility with American Express, where his last position was Director of Global Business Transformation for the Commercial Card division, and engineering positions with the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center.

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Paul J. Kauffmann P.E. East Carolina University

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Dr. Paul J. Kauffmann is a professor and former chair in the Department of Engineering at East Carolina University. His twenty year industry career included positions as Plant Manager and Engineering Director. Dr. Kauffmann received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and MENG in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia
Tech. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Penn State and is a registered Professional Engineer in Virginia and North Carolina.

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Taking the Leap: Moving from Industry to the AcademyEvery year, practicing engineers look to leave their industry role and move into the professorate. Thereason for this desire for change varies widely. Whether they are hoping to give back to the professionafter a successful career, found that their passion is teaching or building the body of knowledge throughresearch, or hope to find a better lifestyle; educators with a deep set of industry experiences have much tooffer their new employers. But they also face a unique set of challenges in adjusting to academic life thatother new members of the faculty may not encounter. These challenges include successfully adjusting tothe politics and inner workings of the academy, when they may already have a deeply ingrained set ofexpectations for the workplace; balancing life and work during the challenging start-up and pre-tenureperiod, when they likely have a greater set of outside commitments than younger new faculty members;and leveraging their skills developed in industry for success in the classroom and research. This articleexplores the experience of two faculty members who each made the move after over fifteen years inindustry, one who is now early in that transition and the second moving toward full retirement. Theseexperiences are used to outline not only ideas on best practices for being successful in the transition, butpitfalls and traps to avoid.

Schell, W. J., & Kauffmann, P. J. (2014, June), Taking the Leap: Moving from Industry to the Academy Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23086

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