Vision for SEMS 20: Robert Morris University Vision for SEMS 20 | Robert Morris University

SEMS 20 Vision

School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science
Dean Maria V. Kalevitch

It wasn’t that long ago that we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the founding of SEMS. Now it’s time to start thinking about our 20th anniversary in 2019, when we will be celebrating SEMS 20. But before we determine where we want to end up, we first need to look at our past and our present in order to review the path we took to achieve our success to-date.

SEMS was formed back in 1999, bringing together three departments under one roof: Engineering, Mathematics, and Science. Our first degree was in engineering, and it brought our first 22 students to RMU/SEMS. We currently have 1048 students enrolled in 10+ majors, minors, and certificate programs. Back in 2003, we had 15 students in our first graduating class; in 2016, we had 160.

Currently we have one of the best freshmen/sophomore retention rates — 94% — and our average freshmen SAT score is 100 points above the rest of the class. Our degrees have mandatory internships and research seminars in the curriculum, which is a big reason for our 92% job-placement rate within six months of graduation. In addition, every year 15 RMU students receive a Presidential Scholarship (full ride), and usually 7-10 of these are SEMS students.

Our ranking, designations and accreditation include:

  • ABET (Accreditation Body for Engineering and Technology) accredited bachelor’s degrees in Engineering (concentrations in Mechanical, Biomedical, Software and Industrial Engineering)
  • Pennsylvania’s only ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering
  • President Obama Initiative on Additive Manufacturing — America Makes
  • Center of Actuarial Excellence by the Society of Actuaries (out of 16 schools ranked nationwide)
  • Undergraduate Engineering Program ranked by U.S. News in their list of the Best Colleges
  • Engineering Management Online Program ranked 32 by SuperScholar Smart Choice (Higher than Drexel) and Top 50 Online Engineering Management Degrees in 2016
  • B.S. in Environmental Science Program named in the Top 50 in the nation by (higher then U.C.-Davis)

SEMS 20 Opportunities:  National Recognition and SEMS Branding Message

In 2016, RMU was recognized by Carnegie Classification as a national research institution, compared with the regional status of master’s level-institutions. This is an opportunity for SEMS to promote its brand to a larger audience while gaining the national recognition the school deserves (considering our current ABET-accredited programs, Actuarial Center of Excellence, and President Obama’s Initiative on Additive Manufacturing, and National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE)).

SEMS is striving and committed to creating the “new STEM professional” who understands leadership and collaboration in a changing world. STEM disciplines are in high demand nationally and internationally. SEMS has the strongest potential to grow in student numbers and program offerings, and new innovative degrees can be offered in areas of strongest demand. For example, SEMS has the potential to offer a Doctorate in Engineering Management, increase/expand upon our graduate offerings, and propose a variety of undergraduate degrees in Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Nutrition, Statistical Analysis, Health Care Systems Engineering and more.

President Obama Initiative on Additive Manufacturing—America Makes:

SEMS Engineering and Schroeder Industries

In 2012, the Robert Morris University Department of Engineering was proud to have been one of nine research universities to participate in the proposal to establish an additive manufacturing innovation institute for the purpose of research, development, and demonstration in additive manufacturing and transition technology to manufacturing enterprises within the United States. When the White House named the winning bid in a $70 million plan to create a public-private institute for manufacturing innovation, the School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science was part of the team that won. The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) is a network of nine research universities including RMU, 40 companies, five community colleges, and 11 nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM).

SEMS New Home-Facilities Renovations

Our big plan is to expand and renovate our facilities by 2019 to match SEMS academic excellence with 21st-century demands. We have started to work with RBA International, Inc. (Architecture, Interiors and Planning) on developing a facilities planning report. This new 33,000-square-foot, approximately $10-12 million expansion will almost double the current space SEMS occupies. The capital campaign and active fundraising is currently under way.

Meanwhile, we are also working with the university to sponsor three additional projects through capital requests: an Engineering Office Suite, located on the second floor of the John Jay Building, and a computer lab for SEMS (Fall 2016); the creation of a “wow” factor in the Atrium, second floor (Dec. 2016); and the expansion of our engineering labs (Fall 2017).

The extension of the facilities will include a prominent entrance to the building with a two floor structure. This will include a Leadership and Innovation Suite—Dean’s Suite, SEMS-Research and Community Outreach Center, along with a conference room and technology center on the second floor. The extended first floor will house engineering laboratories: Mechanical Engineering Lab, Mechatronics Lab, Manufacturing and Fabrication Lab, Industrial Engineering Lab, Energy and Sustainability Lab, Design and Innovation Project Space and Student Study/Lounge. The area will have a modern glass design that will give a perspective for laboratory functions.

Science expansion will include Organic Chemistry Lab, Molecular Biology Lab, Advanced Organismal Biology Lab, Biotechnology Lab, Greenhouse and Student Lounge. Mathematics will have an additional Math Modeling/Computer Lab and Student Study Lounge.

Student Success and Connections with Industry

SEMS students enjoy a 92% job-placement rate within six months after graduation. This success is mainly due to the engaged learning our students receive at RMU, which includes academic excellence, hands-on experiences, collaboration with professors, mandatory internships, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and presenting at conferences.

Here are some examples of companies where our students are employed or had internships:

In Engineering:

Internship Employers
Bayer, Boeing, Bombardier Transportation, Centria, Curtiss-Wright Electro Mechanical Corp., Cutler Hammer, DBT America, Deloitte Financial Services, Development Dimensions International, FedEx, Flabeg, Fox IV Technologies, Kurt J. Lesker Co., Microsonic, NASA, Penn United Technologies, Pittsburgh Logistics Systems, Schroeder Industries, Target Systems, Tate-Jones, US Steel and Wilcox Brothers.

Hiring Organizations
Bayer, Conair, Concurrent Technologies Corp., Core Furnace Systems, Deloitte Financial Services, Development Dimensions International, Eagle Global Logistics, FedEx, Honeywell, Microsonic, Moderne Glass Products, Penn United Technologies, Raytheon, Schroeder Industries, Siemens, SolidWorks, Target Systems and US Steel.

In Sciences:

Pre-Medicine Schools/Linkages

Drexel Medical School-Linkage, Drexel PA School, Thomas Jefferson Medical School, Temple University Dental School, SUNY Dental, Pitt Dental, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, PCOM, LECOM, Seton Hill University Physician Assistant program, Kings College Physician Assistant program, Chatham University -  Physical Therapy, Palmer Chiropractic College and NY Chiropractic College.

In Mathematics:

Hiring Organizations

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Western NY, Cigna, GEICO, Highmark, Mass Mutual, Penn Mutual, Principal, State Farm, Transamerica Life Insurance, Willis Towers Watson, Gieble Catholic Schools, Mercyhurst Prep School, Warhill HS, Beaver HS and Franklin Regional HS.

Innovation in SEMS and Community Outreach

SEMS is a school that truly makes an impact and difference in the community. Through the creation of education and research labs in the Energy and Innovation Center, EIC, Inc., in Pittsburgh, our faculty and students are working to promote workforce development and to address urban challenges with strong community partnerships. The EIC is a multi-disciplinary institution that integrates workforce development programs, has green technology research laboratories, and acts as a business incubator for collaborative university-industry projects.

SEMS is also the only school in the city to offer three energy-specific certificates: Energy Technology, Advanced Additive Manufacturing and Manufacturing Engineering (both undergraduate and graduate level), and currently we are working with the EIC and the RK Mellon Foundation to develop a laboratory facility on the EIC premises.

Manufacturing and Shale Industry: Continuous Collaboration with Industry Partners

Our region, the nation, and the world are now realizing the significance of America’s development of new energy reserves from shale. Here in the Marcellus basin we have witnessed economic gains from the oil and gas industry’s activity. In Pennsylvania alone, we’ve already seen 339,000 jobs supported by the industry and $34.7 billion of economic activity.

SEMS aims to provide its students with a professionally focused education that helps them to launch rewarding careers and make meaningful contributions to the lives of others. Many of our students remain in western Pennsylvania after graduation, so it is no surprise that throughout its history RMU has played a major role in shaping the region’s professional workforce.

Today Robert Morris is positioned well to help grow Pittsburgh’s nascent energy industry and spark a consequent revival in manufacturing. Since its inception, SEMS has worked closely with manufacturers and other corporate partners to make their operations safer, more efficient, and more profitable. Our faculty members have extensive industry experience that informs their teaching and provides students with real-world, problem-solving opportunities. Engineering is now RMU’s largest major and SEMS is the university’s fastest growing school—and for a good reason. As western Pennsylvania seeks to leverage its rich supply of natural gas and other energy sources into a broad-based, sustainable economic revival, the corporate community and policy makers will find no better partner than Robert Morris University.

STEM Research and Education

SEMS-Research and Outreach Center-SEMS-ROC/Value Statement

The research center will work closely with faculty to provide a creative, stimulating environment for collaborative interdisciplinary research that will lead to the development of successful research grants, research infrastructure, and research opportunities within SEMS.

The Research and Grants aspect of SEMS-ROC enhances STEM education for both undergraduate and graduate students at RMU, as well as for RMU faculty by creating channels for academic scholarship. In particular, interdisciplinary research proposals and cross-institutional collaborations are developed to provide several pathways for RMU students to enhance their research experience at RMU.

Building Interdisciplinary Research Agenda-SEMS Research Summary

Community and educational outreach is an important component of the school’s mission, which includes exposing K-12 students to STEM careers and building a pipeline of future engineers and scientists. It is important to have increased visibility for SEMS at local, state, and national STEM conferences through participation, exhibition, and presentations. Students get instruction from faculty experts in STEM disciplines. There is accessibility to functioning research laboratories in Engineering and Science, including 3-D printing, 3-D scanning, and robotics. SEMS-Outreach also has an ability to bring materials and experts on-site to your school or event location. We have a dedicated STEM Outreach staff to assist with logistics and event planning. Overall, SEMS has over 10 years of experience in offering K-12 STEM Outreach programming to the Western PA region.

SEMS hosts various annual K-12 STEM events at RMU (including those for women and minorities). Examples include, Black Male Leadership Development Institute (BMLDI), Uzuri Think Tank, NCBE student chapter, Strength In Numbers Conference, Gateway Schools, Pittsburgh Promise Schools, and Girls in STEM.

International Opportunities

SEMS also provides various international opportunities that expose our students to different cultures and prepare them for success in today’s global economy. Our faculty represent eight different countries on various continents, and our study-abroad opportunities have included destinations such as Germany for students in our Energy and Sustainability class, and Scotland for a developmental exchange program between RMU and Edinburgh Napier University. We are currently working on expanding exchanges to countries in Africa, Asia, South America, and Australia, as well.

Faculty and Student Diversity

Faculty and student diversity is a cornerstone of academic success. In the past six years SEMS hired seven female faculty members, bringing % of gender diversity in the school to 33 . SEMS is very sensitive to the established national goal of having 50% females in academia by 2030 and will continue to strive to meet this goal.

Currently, SEMS has 17% female students in engineering, 30.5% in mathematics, and 52% in science. Nationally, 20% of female students are in engineering. SEMS female students are at 23.6% in all undergraduate programs and 18.2% in graduate programs. Minorities represent 7.4% in undergraduate programs and 12.4% in graduate programs. Recently we have seen a decline in minorities at the undergraduate level.

Nationally, STEM is inextricably linked to economic prosperity and innovation, occupying an esteemed status in the public eye. African American men, in particular, continue to be severely underrepresented in the STEM workforce.

Seen through the lens of regional interest, the importance of diversity is underscored by reports from Vibrant Pittsburgh, suggesting that without the participation of individuals of all racial/ethnic backgrounds and genders, the increasing demand for workers in these fields will not be met, potentially compromising the position of the U.S. as a global leader.  The obstacles to reaching equity in the STEM fields are many; however, the benefits of diversity are clearly substantial. Hiring diverse faculty will help us to correct the matter as advising and mentorship are crucial for attracting and retaining students.

SEMS Board of Visitors: SEMS BOV White Paper

In order to assure that our programs stay in touch with the realities of the world of work we have established an Industrial Board of Visitors for SEMS, whose members who are engaged in STEM-related endeavors. Its main purpose is to serve as a strategic sounding board to the school dean in charting the course of growth and development in the years ahead for a new paradigm of engineering, mathematics, and science education at Robert Morris University. Thus the board plays a crucial role in shaping the future of SEMS in the years ahead and helps us to realize our goal of making SEMS a school with national distinction in preparing the future engineers, scientists, and mathematicians serving the needs of society.


Looking forward to SEMS 20, we hope and are striving to become a nationally and internationally recognized leader in STEM education, with a new diverse workforce and student body. We aim to do this through the creation of innovative facilities that underscore the tremendous value of our academic programs; centers of excellence; endowed chairs; and a strong alumni network to continue growing our reputation both at home and beyond.