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Effective, Efficient Professors:

Adjusting to a New Environment

Phil Wankat
ChE & ENE, Purdue University
Rowan University, October 2014
Effectiveness and Efficiency
Effectiveness Doing the right thing and
accomplishing the task. Examples:
Doing research that will have impact
Teaching that impacts students.
Efficiency Doing tasks well in a minimum amount
of time. Examples:
Preparation for lecture use 80-20 rule.
Writing research papers.

Some tasks (e.g., working with people) do not lend

themselves to efficiency.
Clarify Your Vision
Decide what goals are important to you
Being promoted & achieving tenure
Advancing disciplinary knowledge
Becoming famous
Starting a company
Becoming comfortable or rich
Significant other
Family: When to have a baby?
Running marathon, golf, fishing, reading
Need to prioritize and balance
Promotion & Tenure (P&T) Tips
Obtain & study the written rules
Understand the procedure and timing
Discuss unwritten requirements with
knowledgeable professors
Preferably both inside & outside department
Understand impact & potential
Filter & triangulate advice
Develop goals to satisfy P&T committees
Be Flexible the target is moving
Spend time every week on these goals
Develop a positive means of handling stress.
P & T Requirements in Engineering
& Science at Research Universities

Research, Teaching & Service

Money! At least enough to support research

Quality Publications, good journals. Goal: Impact!
Develop a national reputation
Ph.D. graduate(s)
Good enough teaching (great helps on margin)
Collegial and service (may include advising)
Purdue P&T Procedures
Discovery, Application, Teaching & Learning (T&L),
Integration, & Engagement Scholarships
Discovery (aka research) counts most. In Dept. Engineering
Education (ENE) rigorous engineering education research
(REER) counts equally, e.g., JEE
In most engineering departments discovery counts more
than engineering application research. Patents are applic.
Integration (textbooks & critical review) count as 1
publication; however, if you also do research & book is
successful, they count for promotion to full professor.
Every dept. has a pecking order of technical journals, which
is distributed to faculty.
The h-index, which only works for tech rsch, is looked at,
particularly for promotion to full.
Purdue P&T Procedures 2
Classroom educ. research (T&L) is lumped with teaching.
Engagement (societal benefit & scholarship) is service.
Unofficial Rule: Promotion to assoc. is done year 6.
Officially, Purdue compares research funding to what
is needed for research program. Unofficially, more
money is always better
Funding dollars have different weight.
NSF & NIH preferred to industry
When Dept. Freshman Engineering converted to
ENE, assist. profs. went through P&T based on what
they were originally hired to do (teach). For full
professor, meet same requirements as other depts.
Time and Stress
Never enough time leads to stress.
Need time & stress management
Set Goals & Prioritize Use To-Do list. Include:
goals for others (e.g., adviser) & your own work goals
high-priority non-work items
Delegate work
Give clear assignments & responsibility for details
Check on progress and provide feedback
Give credit
Learn to say no pleasantly
Maximum productivity: about 55 hours work/week.
Coping START

Is there a
NO problem in YES
your life?

Can you do
NO something YES
about it?

Don t Do something
about it
Retaining Your Sanity
Reserve time for yourself & your family.
Work at most 6 days/week on regular basis
Spend time with family daily
On trips, call home every day
Take short vacations.
Need flow activity - golf, cooking, running etc.
Stress points: 1. Uncertainty Rowan rules
2. Balancing work & family
All studies: balancing harder for women.
Research Universities: Role of
Professors in Research
Research with graduate students is different.
Become a manager
Multiple projects & students
Long-term vision
Usually, little time to do research oneself
Role of Research Advisor
Develop research ideas: want impact and doable in
time available
Fund the research:
Network with funding agencies find what they want
Write proposals (Attend a Proposal Writing Workshop)
Obtain $ and budget
Use your start-up $ for maximum impact
Develop a professional research team
Maintain professional relationship with students
Train students how to do research
Experiments, simulations, triage journal articles, journal, writing papers

Network with other researchers

For reference letters
Help place your graduates
Research: How Much Money?
average one Ph.D./year at steady state.
Ph.Ds graduate in 4 (or 5) years (rapid).
one terminal MS every 2 years.
Thus, group is 5 (or 6) students (moderate size).
1 grad student (incl. equipment, supplies, &
overhead) costs $40(to 75) K/yr (reasonable).
PI: 2 months summer plus 10%AY (& overhead!)
Estimate: ~$250,000 to $500,000/year
In the presentation, this slide contained a copyrighted cartoon
regarding the grant cycle from If you are
interested in viewing the comic, you may view the original
version at:
Questions: What is on your Mind?
Move into small groups & introduce yourself.
On 3x5 card write one question that the group
agrees is a good question. Question does
NOT have to be on material I discussed.
Turn in the cards.
I will comment on cards in the order received.
This is called a one-minute quiz it is useful
in classes, and as a backup if you run out of
lecture material.
Balance Research Projects
Balance the research area and topic
Continuation past research & new research
Low risk & high risk
Show both independence in research & collaboration
Working with your own grad students
Don t expect grad students to get you promoted
Collaborating with other researchers
Senior & other assistant professors
At your university and other institutions
Research alone
Similar balance for who is PI on proposals
Balance expected publications
Fast pub/low impact & slow pub/high impact
Research Tips
No proposal, no money
Start writing research papers early
Paper draft & research progress can be synergistic.
Choose journal and a backup
Journals have different prestige & different audiences.
Most papers are not suitable for Nature or Science
Write a half hour or hour a day
More efficient than longer or shorter periods
Keeps the process moving forward
Critical path & recycle loops for
experimental research project
NSF proposals Career & Others
Follow Proposal Preparation Rules
Use the full 15 pages
Dont complain or whine
Cite previous work by other researchers
Research: balance broad picture with details.
Go beyond PhD/postdoc research.
Research is most important part of Career
But decision often depends on teaching part.
Teaching Part of NSF CAREER
Prepare as carefully as the research part:
References: content and pedagogy (e.g. Books in
Resources and JEE)
Include the obvious (new course development and
involving undergrads in research)
Go beyond obvious one creative idea
Document interest in teaching & students
Reviewers like efforts to increase diversity
Evaluation & dissemination required make it an
educational research project.
Service & Collegiallity
Service will not earn you tenure, but lack of
collegiality or service can stop promotion.
Be collegial smile! Network (lunch, coffee,
etc.) 2 hours/week.
Do your share within the department.
Common duties.
Volunteer to be in charge of one task (e.g.,
Seminars since it is great opportunity to network)
Become involved in the profession.
ASEE and your professional society.
Seminars at universities.
Teaching Engineering, free at:

Wankat, The Effective, Efficient Teacher, Allyn & Bacon, 2002

Reis, Tomorrows Professor, IEEE, 1997 & web pages

Monosson, Motherhood, The Elephant in the Laboratory:

Women Scientists Speak Out, Cornell Univ Press, 2008.

Diamond, Preparing for Promotion, Tenure, and Annual

Review. A Faculty Guide, Anker Pub. Co., 2004.
Burroughs Wellcome Fund & Howard Hughes Medical Instit.,
Making the Right Moves. A Practical Guide to Scientific
Management for Postdocs and New Faculty, 2006.