Fulton announces relocation of majors despite pushback from faculty, students

A student-created petition garnered over 1,500 signatures to prevent the move of two engineering programs to the Polytechnic campus

A petition demanding ASU reconsider its decision to move two Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering programs from Tempe to the Polytechnic campus received over 1,000 signatures less than 24 hours after it was created — all before the move was announced by the University. 

In what engineering associate professor Rong Pan called a "hastily organized faculty meeting" last Monday, he learned from Dean Kyle Squires that the industrial engineering and engineering management programs would soon be relocated to the Polytechnic campus.

Sam Anguiano, a senior studying industrial engineering, started the petition Sunday night after he was informed of the planned change by a faculty member who was in the Feb. 22 faculty meeting. 

On Thursday morning, the Fulton Schools of Engineering formally announced the creation of a new school, still yet to be named, and the rebranding of two existing schools: the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering and The Polytechnic School.

Pan and another engineering professor, Ronald Askin, member of the CIDSE Administration and Planning Committee, said the move came without warning. 

In an email, Askin pointed to the bylaws that indicate APC's role in actions "related to space, resource allocation and strategic planning." But the committee was first notified about the change alongside other engineering faculty on Feb. 22, Askin said in an email.

"It seems very odd that they would make a change like this without consulting the faculty involved in the programs," Anguiano said.

This new school will be headquartered at the Polytechnic campus and will focus on the "future of work," which Squires said would include programs such as autonomous systems, robotics and systems engineering. 

The rebranding of CIDSE will focus on augmented intelligence and advancing their role in human capabilities, the announcement said. The Polytechnic School rebranding will focus on preparing technologically enhanced learners.

The changes within the Fulton Schools is about "working together to meet emerging societal needs," and to "make an impact," the statement said. 

The only two majors relocating to the Polytechnic campus are industrial engineering and engineering management, which both fall under the CIDSE school, Squires said in an interview Wednesday night. 

While the goal is to have the change implemented in the Fall 2021 semester, the announcement said no teaching or class schedules will be impacted in the 2021-22 school year. Squires also said all students currently studying industrial engineering or engineering management will be allowed to stay on the Tempe campus until they complete their degree.

This came as a breath of relief to Anguiano and other engineering students who said they were worried about the commute.

“I've been over to Poly, it's a nice enough campus, and I'm sure it's great for learning, but it is not the same college experience you get in Tempe,” said Jacob Shine, a sophomore studying industrial engineering who was in communication with the students who created the petition.

After the meeting between faculty and Squires on Feb. 22, concerns about communication and transparency unfurled throughout the ASU engineering community. Anguiano said one of the main reasons he started the petition was to "make the process feel more transparent."

But Squires said this is a “planning process,” and faculty and student involvement will become more instrumental — despite the move already being announced. The announcement also invited feedback, which students, faculty and staff can submit through a Google form linked at the bottom of the announcement.

"For this to work, we need involvement," Squires said. "Frustrations are understandable, it's the first time you hear about something ... and now it's about the initial reaction. How do we make sure we're adapting our processes to be inclusive of all those voices?"

The move is part of the New Economy initiative set forth by the Arizona Board of Regents, ASU President Michael Crow said in an ABOR meeting on Feb. 12. The initiative looks to make Arizona a frontrunner in economic transformation, Crow said.

Anguiano and Shine said they worried the campus change for industrial engineering and engineering management will be a loss for the program because it overlaps with many business classes and programs in the W. P. Carey School of Business headquartered on the Tempe campus.

"(Industrial engineering) is a very business-focused engineering, and if you don't have that crossover between W. P. Carey and our program, I think that our program loses a lot of its value," Anguiano said. "Industrial engineers are poised as a middleman between super technical engineers and the business side of things."

Shine said it's important industrial engineering majors stay in Tempe not only for the programs the business school offers, but to stay closer to where the majority of computer science students study.

“It's hurting the whole major ... It’s putting us backwards in time for the major,” Shine said. “IE (industrial engineering) is historically about building physical systems and manufacturing, but now it's data science, it’s systems, it’s ideas. It's not what Poly does."


Reach the reporters at eborst@asu.edu and kkwilso5@asu.edu and follow @ellieeborstt and @kaceywilson_ on Twitter. 

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