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2010 Engineer of the Year: Dr. Selçuk Güçeri

Guceri_EoY_PhotoDr. Selçuk Güçeri is the Dean of the College of Engineering (CoE) at Drexel University.  He joined Drexel in 2000 after having served for seven years as Department Head of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Prior to this, Dr. Güçeri served 17 years on the faculty at the University of Delaware, during which he was engaged in a variety of activities including serving on the Board of Directors for the Center for Composite Materials (CCM).  CCM was one of the original six Engineering Research Centers established by the NSF.

During the past thirty years, Dr. Güçeri has developed innovative models for education, mentoring and outreach that have enhanced the reputation of his institutions.  He formed and led teams that achieved important accomplishments thought to be unattainable at these institutions.  He also developed successful research programs that produced over 20 PhD’s, many of whom are now leaders in their fields. His commitment to teaching was recognized with an Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Dr. Güçeri believes that higher education institutions should not only teach young adults, but should communicate values in decision-making, social awareness, global responsibilities and leadership. Institutions of higher education define the future of our society.  As such, our global prominence and quality of life depends on the type of education and mentoring we provide students.  Engineering is not only a profession but a fundamental way of thinking that forms the foundations for many important functions of society.

Embracing this vision and serving as a tireless champion of engineering education, Dr. Güçeri led major efforts to develop programs for engineers that embrace cultural, social, and global perspectives, ethics, professional development and life-long learning.  He inspired students to move beyond the concept of studying engineering as a profession to studying engineering as an education.  As a result, the number of engineering students exploring courses in other disciplines of social science, economics, and humanities through the Honors program has increased by a factor of two.  Dr. Güçeri developed effective recruitment and mentoring programs to increase enrollment from 2,500 to more than 3,600 students in CoE while increasing the average SAT scores by more than 90 points.  He increased the number of American PhD students by 125%.  In 2007, Drexel University was ranked sixth in the nation for awarding the highest percentage of PhD’s to women candidates.  With Dr. Güçeri’s leadership and the help of many engineers and business leaders in the Delaware Valley region, Drexel’s College of Engineering has now become the largest private college of engineering in the country and is consistently ranked in the top 50 private universities whose highest degree is a doctorate by U.S. News & World Report. 

Research universities serve as an important resource in regional development. Drexel has become an engine of innovation and entrepreneurship that is amongst the best in the nation. One of the early goals for Drexel’s research was to have an economic impact on our business community. Drexel’s impact is best exemplified by new businesses based on our faculty’s research and the development of state-of-the-art facilities for local industry and academic partners. Beginning with the Department of Defense grants for Applied Communications and Information Networking (ACIN), an incubator hub in Camden, NJ, Dr. Güçeri developed a business-friendly model for sharing IP, generous licensing arrangements and access to faculty research.  What began with modest funding, few faculty members and one incubation company blossomed into an operation with more than $35M in research funds, 30 faculty members, 56 high tech firms and more than 120 employees.  Using this model, Dr. Güçeri has worked closely with Ben Franklin partners to develop a similar research and incubation space for the Philadelphia Navy yard that features research in UAV and shipboard power systems.

Dr. Güçeri has developed state-of-the-art facilities in CoE that provide much needed capabilities for local business and educational institutions. The newly established Central Research Facility houses equipment such as the Raman Spectrometry, Transmission Electron Microscopy and several Scanning electron Microscopes that allow local companies and institutions to conduct advanced research and product development, giving them a competitive edge. Currently 22 local companies and 14 educational institutions use and benefit from these facilities.

As an accomplished researcher, Dr. Güçeri’s research group has been involved in highly interdisciplinary studies with focus on establishing the manufacturing-performance relations for advanced material forms. He developed the laser-assisted manufacturing technology for thermoplastic composites as well as the science base for resin transfer molding process.  He and his research group applied for a patent for their layered fabrication technology, developed to fabricate multifunctional objects with controlled internal architectures. This process is particularly suitable for fabrication of implantable biocompatible products. 

A native of Turkey and born to parents who are both engineers, Dr. Güçeri received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey.  He received his Doctorate degree from North Carolina State University. He is a Fellow of ASME and is the founding editor of two professional journals: Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials and Journal of Materials Processing & Manufacturing Science.  He has organized several important internationally attended conferences on breakthrough technologies, including the conference on Transport Phenomena in Materials Processing that brought leading academic and industry researchers to develop advanced materials for the defense industry.  He organized a NATO Advanced Study Institute (ASI) on Engineered Nanofibrous Materials that helped to implement new research topics on biomaterials and opto-photonic materials using nanoscale engineering. He organized a second NATO ASI in on Plasma Decontamination that has implications for environmental remediation and wound healing for battlefield applications. Dr. Güçeri is author/coauthor of over 100 technical publications, including several chapters in reference books. He has served as a consultant to many organizations in China, Korea and Turkey and as a technical expert for the United Nations.  He has served on numerous national panels, was a member of the Advisory Board of the United Arab Emirates University and of the accreditation committee to American University of Sharjah (UAE). His personal interests include classical piano, model airplanes/engines, and marine studies.