By Zoe Elledge
The Georgia Tech motto of Progress and Service will define the next 10 years at Tech
Georgia Tech President Ángel Cabrera, along with co-chairs Dean Maryam Alavi and Provost Steven McLaughlin, officially launched the school’s new ten-year strategic plan this November.
“Our plan presents our shared vision for the next decade,” wrote Cabrera in a letter to students, faculty and staff. “It is grounded in our commitment to developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition and is driven by a set of ambitious goals and bold actions to grow the impact we have in the world.”
Progress and Service
Georgia Tech’s motto of “Progress and Service” acts as an overarching guiding principle in the outline of the strategic plan. In many places, the Institute expands the meaning of this phrase to reflect the aspirations of their specific objectives with a more inclusive definition.
Tech aims to strengthen its local and global involvement and leadership in current and critical challenges facing our world. In the plan, Tech puts many of the proposed focus areas in a local context, citing the leadership of Atlanta civil rights heroes like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and drawing upon the city’s position as a global transportation hub.
The Institute’s list of values – prioritizing students, striving for excellence, celebrating collaboration and acting ethically, to name a few – are important additional building blocks for the plan’s creation and future execution.
“No matter the role, the values are meant to guide our priorities every day, to help us focus on our important, shared mission.” – Georgia Tech Strategic Plan 2020-2030
Six key areas of focus
Georgia Tech breaks down the strategic plan into six main actionable objectives.
The Institute looks to identify the critical challenges currently facing the world by preparing Georgia Tech students to significantly contribute and lead research and development efforts in those fields. To do so, Tech plans to utilize multidisciplinary tactics in research, expand high-impact programs dealing with critical local and global challenges and develop meaningful regional collaborations.
The Institute aims to increase entrepreneurship opportunities at Georgia Tech. This would include the expansion of student programs in social innovation, focus on the intersection between arts and technology in the curriculum and the provision of means for students to explore entrepreneurship and artistic expression, including the support of student start-ups.
An increased fostering of worldwide collaboration and global learning networks at Georgia Tech in this step of the plan will prepare students to be globally-minded leaders, with an emphasis on understanding and implementing the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Tech plans to encourage and enable access to more international partnerships, study abroad trips and academic collaborations with globally focused institutions.
This objective supports underrepresented demographics of the student body to include a greater diversity of perspectives and backgrounds into the classroom, both through the students and faculty. Tech aims to be a national leader in women and underrepresented minority graduates and faculty diversity, especially in technology-related fields. To do so, Tech plans to focus on initiatives in Atlanta public schools to inspire minority, low-income and female students, dramatically increase need-based scholarship funding and aggressively recruit and retain women and minority faculty, while at the same time working to identify the underlying causes of underrepresentation of minority groups at Tech.
Tech aims to create a healthy and thriving Georgia Tech environment that focuses on caring for the mental and physical health of students and employees alike. This would entail the Institute taking a holistic approach to student health, strengthen campus well-being resources and create an institute-wide well-being metric to monitor overall student feedback and wellness, taking necessary action to address issues.
Lead by Example
Encouraging a Georgia Tech culture of ethics, sustainability, equity and inclusion is pivotal to this final step in the plan. To do so, Tech plans to prioritize student and employee data protection, create cross-functional councils to monitor performance and institutionalize procurement and workforce and business development, among other practices. Tech also emphasizes their commitment to developing and executing a Climate Action Plan for the Institute.
The creation of the strategic plan was not an isolated effort – a project team and steering committee of more than 60 faculty and staff members from a variety of disciplines oversaw the process. More than 2,600 students participated in Tech-hosted meetings, workshops, informational sessions and webinars to share opinions and feedback on their visions for the future of the Institute.
The Letter from the Co-chairs about the strategic plan emphasizes that this is no one single person or small group’s plan: “This is OUR plan.”
The importance of engineering
Much of the planning surrounding the support of underrepresented students, faculty and staff at the Institute focuses on STEM and engineering fields, with technology-related fields as the top priority for the inclusion of women, low-income students and people of color. Tech plans to cultivate outreach programs in engineering fields geared towards these underrepresented groups at the high school, undergraduate, graduate and faculty levels.
Tech also plans to increase student entrepreneurship, international educational opportunities and local and global collaborations, among many other programs that touch engineering. There will most likely be an increased focus on critical global problems and leadership in engineering curriculums, with special attention to topics such as advancing the U.N Sustainable Development Goals, mentioned at length in the “Connect Globally” objective.
A path forward
Despite the current challenges the Institute faces regarding Covid-19 and distance learning, Georgia Tech is committed to going even further than returning the campus to normalcy, aiming to make dramatic improvements by raising the standards of education, opportunities and well-being for all students, faculty and staff.