A Tenure-Track Job

Philip Asare’s experiences as a graduate student in the Engineering School proved to be the perfect springboard, not just for securing an academic post, but finding one that will enable him to pursue his interest in engineering and public policy. “The Engineering School’s efforts to supplement its graduate research with experiences that build professional skills made a real difference for me,” he says.

This fall, Asare joins the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in Bucknell University’s Engineering School. “Being part of an engineering school at a predominantly liberal arts institution that emphasizes undergraduate education really suits me,” Asare says.

It helps, of course, that Asare wrote a well-received dissertation for Professors John Lach and Jack Stankovic, codirectors of the Engineering School’s Center for Wireless Health. The center develops wearable monitors that provide a better picture of a patient’s condition than a one-time test or office visit can. For these devices to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they must be safe, but as of yet there is no commonly accepted way to translate the medical injunction “do no harm” into specifications for these devices. Asare devised design tools — mathematical models —to do exactly that.

“Having a shared concept of safety — and a design tool that embodies the way this vision of safety would work in a complex, dynamic system — is critical to advancing the field,” Lach says. Asare received the Louis T. Radar Research Award from the Charles L. Brown Electrical and Computer Engineering Department for his work.

Asare also credits initiatives introduced by Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs Pamela Norris for differentiating him from other candidates. For instance, the Engineering School’s Graduate Teaching Internship Program gives students considering an academic career the opportunity to hone their teaching skills as they develop and co-teach a course with experienced faculty mentors. Together with Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Joanne Bechta Dugan, Asare created a course on embedded systems.

A place like Bucknell wants to know that you’re interested in teaching and that you’ve gone out of your way to get that experience,” he says. “The interviewers liked the idea that I had not only taught a course but developed one.”

The Engineering School also provided funding for Asare to attend Science Outside the Lab, a 10-day policy workshop organized by Arizona State University’s Consortium of Science, Policy and Outcomes, in Washington, D.C. The program is aimed at doctoral students interested in how decisions about public science funding, regulation and policy are made at the federal level.

“I think the insights I gained about the perspectives and priorities of funding agencies like the NSF will be helpful as I apply for funding myself,” Asare says. “Thanks to the support I received from the Engineering School, I feel better positioned for what I hope will be a satisfying and productive career.”