Dr. Matthew Mench, head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering (MABE), recently participated as part of a three person panel for a Symposium on Early Faculty Life at the 2015 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE) meeting in Houston, Texas. Along with mechanical engineering department heads of University of Wisconsin and Iowa State University, Mench presented advice to new and prospective faculty on faculty job searches, promotions, and tenure.
“After serving on several promotion and tenure committees at the department and college level, and hiring many different faculty, the process and expectations are pretty straight forward to me,” said Mench. However, some of the questions from the crowd reminded Mench that was not always the case for everyone. “We are talking about a job that is extremely difficult to get and perhaps even more difficult to keep.”
Many open faculty positions receive over 200 applications from highly qualified individuals. The people that are applying typically have had nearly perfect grades, distinguished records in research as a student, and generally done extremely well at every junction in their life.
“They are simply not used to being told no and it can be very daunting and depressing to some when they don’t immediately get a job. Then once they do, there is a mystery about what is required to get tenure,” said Mench. “The panel discussion was an opportunity to help the prospective faculty realize the situation, what they need to do to prepare to be most competitive, and what to expect once they get the job. There was a lot of interest and questions, and I hope the discussion was helpful.”