Thomas Little Appointed Associate Dean for Educational Initiatives
By Mark Dwortzan
Dean Kenneth R. Lutchen has appointed Professor Thomas D.C. Little (ECE, SE) as the College of Engineering’s associate dean for Educational Initiatives. Little will be responsible for overseeing, implementing, catalyzing and designing new and existing College-wide and cross-college or school educational initiatives that involve innovation in curriculum design or course delivery in undergraduate, graduate and professional education programs.
“Tom has expertise and passion for emerging educational technologies and digital education methodologies that are anticipated to radically impact engineering education,” said Lutchen. “As associate dean, he will advance new programs with other schools and colleges at BU, continue to advance our professional masters programs, oversee innovative faculty teaching programs and help the college navigate the impact of digital technologies on engineering education.”
“It’s an exciting time to be involved in education,” said Little, who has served as associate chair of both undergraduate and graduate studies in ECE. “Students now enter the university adept with personal media devices and with expectations of constant connectivity to social networks, search engines, streaming media and global information resources and peers. Like other societal conventions in transformation, there is a wonderful opportunity for engineering education to adapt to these changes to enhance and enrich the outcomes of our program.”
Little succeeds Professor Donald Wroblewski (ME). As the College’s first associate dean for Educational Initiatives, Wroblewski implemented the Engineers in the Real World program for sophomores, helped create the new Technology Innovation concentration jointly with the School of Management, recruited and worked with Kern Faculty Fellows on the ENG faculty and boosted enrollment in the College’s suite of MEng programs from about 20 incoming students to nearly 130 expected this fall.
“He did all this in an extremely collegial and engaging fashion,” said Lutchen, “and has created the scaffolds from which Tom Little can now help us transform engineering education for the future creation of societal engineers.”
To effect that transformation, Little will draw on extensive experience in research, outreach and entrepreneurship.
His research explores the intersection of networking, free-space optical communications and the “anywhere” computing that they enable. For example, he is principal investigator and associate director of the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center, where his work is centered on the adaptation of novel LED-based materials, devices and systems for the support of health, productivity and energy benefits. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery.
A past winner of the College of Engineering Faculty Service Award, Little has participated in outreach activities such as the BU Summer Challenge Program, Summer Pathways and the College of Engineering UDesign Program. Named as a Kern Faculty Fellow in 2010 for his work in developing innovative ways to stimulate the entrepreneurial mindset among undergraduates, he is a successful entrepreneur and has served as an advisor to ParkWhiz, Cantina Consulting, Bytelight and other companies.