A CEO returns to her undergraduate alma mater and reflects on why Drexel University is one of the most innovative schools in the nation.
 

I recently returned to Philadelphia, PA, to reconnect with the college that gave me a start in the technology world. There were many reasons that I originally decided to attend Drexel, but one of the things that interested me most was the forward-thinking manner in which Drexel prepares students for productive professional and civic lives.
 
This opportunity to visit my alma mater, was through the relationship that Greg Westiner, Senior Sales Manager, Mid-Atlantic for ClearOne,has been developing with Drexel University. Greg has been with our company for over 18 months, and was previously a VP of Sales for a Philadelphia AV Integrator. Greg has been meeting with Robert Rasberry, Assistant Director Facility Services – Instructional Technology Support at Drexel about various technology projects, including: Audio conferencing, digital signage, video conferencing, and others. Mr. Rasberry has been very instrumental at Drexel to maintain the highest levels of technology available to professors, instructors and students.
 
Greg and Robert have been talking about ClearOne’s desire to be a part of their co-operative educational program. Established in 1919, this program is one of the oldest, largest, and most successful in the world. Approximately 1,500 companies in 30 states and 24 international locations participate in the program. The interaction that occurs between students and global companies is an opportunity that few other universities can provide. These students will be moving into an increasingly competitive environment along with students from other countries, including India and China. Drexel is providing the necessary skills these students will need to succeed.
 
Greg and I were introduced to John Walker, Vice President of the Office of Institutional Advancement, and Dr. Joseph Hughes, Dean of the College of Engineering, who hosted us for breakfast. We had a great discussion about technology, engineering, and the rapid growth of the University. After breakfast, I met with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Donna Murasko. (This was especially nice for me because I graduated with my master’s degree in physics from that same college.) She told me about how the rapid growth for the College of Medicine occurred after 2002 when Tenet Healthcare agreed to a twenty-year merger between MCP Hahnemann University and Drexel University, as well as an affiliation between the Drexel University College of Medicine and Tenet’s teaching hospitals in the Philadelphia area. Drexel has always been at the forefront of medical teaching; in fact, the Drexel University College of Medicine was the first medical school for women when it was founded in 1850. Today, they have the nation’s largest private medical school enrollment.
 
Our next stop of the campus tour was the Allied Sciences Building, where I met with Becky Boudwin, the Director of Development at the College of Arts and Sciences. This beautiful building is one of the newest on campus, has 130,000-square-feet for education and research, and is also a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified building—meaning it has implemented practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. This environmentally conscious building houses 39 research and teaching laboratories for bio-medical engineering, biology, and chemistry; a 250-person auditorium; and a fossil preparation lab. The most amazing part of the building is the four-story bio-wall in the atrium, which serves as the building’s centerpiece. The structure is composed of living plants, and is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also serves as a natural air filter and humidifier for the building—the first of its kind in an American University.
 
Later that day, I met with Dr. Banu Onaral, who is the Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems. Dr. Onaral also has family from Turkey, and we discovered that she knew my father. What a small world we live in sometimes! We also discussed how the Engineering, Nursing, College of Medicine and the large Biology departments are merging together in order to dedicate their combined resources to create new technology for the fields of science, health, and medicine. They are working on cutting-edge techniques like cognitive neural engineering, functional optical brain imaging, and neural electrode tissue interface.
 
When you speak with authorities in the bio-medical science and engineering fields, there is a growing consensus that the marriage of technology with biology and medicine will drive a 21st-century industrial enterprise. Drexel University seeks to partner with the private sector to develop concepts and move discoveries from the labs and classrooms into the business, investment, and private sectors.
 
Always on the forefront of using technology to help students excel, Drexel was the first major university to implement a fully wireless campus, and since 1996, Drexel has offered degrees online, including the first fully online master’s degree program.
 
After I returned to Salt Lake City, I asked Greg to share his thoughts on the tour, and he replied “Being a resident of the Philadelphia area for over thirty years, and ardent proponent, (there are so many great things about this city), I have been aware of the growth of many of the city’s educational institutions. But, I wasn’t aware of the breadth and depth of what Drexel is doing, from a comprehensive educational institution, to its actual physical growth and expansion. Kudos to the visionaries at Drexel as they continue to provide opportunities, not only for local Philadelphians, but also all those who come in contact with Drexel through various educational and cultural activities globally.”
 
Drexel’s motto of “Dream it. Do it” propels their students into creative and innovative new ways of thinking and is creating the next generation of thinkers, dreamers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs.
 
Drexel’s mission is to be an academically comprehensive and globally engaged urban research university, dedicated to advancing knowledge and society and to provide every student with a valuable, rigorous, experiential, and technology-infused education. I can’t think of a better way to prepare our best and brightest for the challenges they will face in the real world of business and life.
 

 
Zee Hakimoglu is the CEO of ClearOne, a global company that designs, develops and sells conferencing, collaboration, streaming and digital signage solutions for audio and visual communications.  The performance and simplicity of its advanced comprehensive solutions offer unprecedented levels of functionality, reliability and scalability.
 
Visit their website at www.clearone.com
 

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