Fred Driscoll has seen a lot over the course of his five decades at Wentworth. From his early days as an instructor of electronic engineering technology to his current post as dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, he has witnessed transformative changes to the Institute’s curriculum and campus. As he celebrates 50 years at the Institute, he took a few moments to reflect—and to look ahead.
1. How did you start your career here at Wentworth?
I grew up in Everett, Mass., and I had heard of Wentworth, but wasn’t too familiar with it.
I was working in Washington, D.C., for a branch of the government called the Rural Electrification of America (REA). But the job was menial. I wanted a challenge. I saw an ad for faculty member in the electronics department here at Wentworth. I thought I’d stay two or three years and then go to one of the computer companies in the area.
2. What are some of your Wentworth milestones?
I worked as a faculty member through the 1960s, and then started working with microprocessors and developing related courses in the ’70s. Before the end of the decade I was asked to start the Computer Engineering Technology program. I then helped create the associate degree program in Computer Information Technology, and then the Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering Technology. In the early ’90s, we got the idea to introduce engineering. We wanted to do it differently, so that’s where the Electromechanical Engineering program came from. Eventually, the provost came to me and asked if I would be the dean of the College of Engineering and Technology. I said, “Sure, I’ll be the dean at first to help certain programs get off the ground.” It’s now been five years!
3. What have you enjoyed most about your time here?
I like the work, and I get to work with a lot of different people. We’ve certainly changed the Institute by bringing a lot of engineering programs on. Accelerate [Wentworth’s innovation and entrepreneurship center] was also a great opportunity. The other major thing is the move into graduate programs. Wentworth has changed so much. The school has changed from commuter to residential, and that has made a major impact.
4. People often call Wentworth a “hidden gem.” Do you believe that’s changing? Is the institute becoming more recognized?
There’s no question that it’s changing. I just came back from a meeting of engineering deans in South Carolina, and they see Wentworth now much more than they did before. We’re a school where a student can feel comfortable in smaller classes, but we also offer co-ops, labs, and hands-on learning in disciplines that are very unique. That’s the true hidden gem.
5. What are some engineering trends that you’re following?
The trend right now is convergence—when the life sciences combine with the physical sciences and engineering. One thing we’re looking at is the possibility of a biological engineering program, bringing in engineering principles of analysis, synthesis, and design to biology at the cellular and molecular levels.