Grant Crawford, a Cheshire resident, and professor of mechanical engineering at Quinnipiac University, has been elected president of the American Society for Engineering Education.
The national organization is dedicated to the advancement of education in the engineering fields across all disciplines. Crawford has been involved with the ASEE since 1998 and has served as a board member for the last three years.
He will take up the role of president for the 2024-2025 term starting with his inauguration, held at the ASEE’s annual conference on June 25-28 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.
“I’ve just kind of been fortunate and thankful that I’ve been able to serve at different levels and move up in greater capacities over the years, and been trusted to do that. It’s a privilege to be able to serve my society in that manner, and you’re really working with some excellent people,” Crawford said, “The ASEE really aligns with my top three professional passions — and that’s practicing engineering, engineering education, and service. So it ticks off all those boxes.”
Crawford plans to serve as a good steward for the organization during his tenure and looks forward to reaching out to members of the ASEE from across the nation.
Members of Quinnipiac University are supportive of Crawford and are excited that he has the honor of being a representative of their school for a national organization. Crawford has taught at QU for nine years, having joined in 2014, and has helped grow the department substantially, becoming its own school in 2016.
“This is quite an accomplishment for a faculty member in a young school like us serving and leading the national society. There are no other societies for engineering education — that is it. And someone from us leading that, that’s huge,” Taskin Kocak, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering at Quinnipiac University, said. “(Considering) his background and his accomplishment so far, (he is) a well-deserved choice (to lead) this great society. I think that will be good for us as well, putting us on the map.”
Crawford’s interest in engineering stems from his childhood. A first-generation college graduate, he grew up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with a father who drove trucks for a living. Crawford had an interest in planes from a young age, putting together models to see how they worked. Having an affinity for math, he took several drafting classes and graduated at the top of his high school class.
However, after graduation there were very few scholarship opportunities for engineering and aerospace, giving his family no real way to afford a higher education. But Crawford had joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) while in high school, and because of that, he would ultimately attend West Point, receiving his college education in exchange for military service.
During his 10-year service, Crawford served overseas in Germany and was ultimately deployed during the Gulf War. By the end, he received a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Kansas, and a Master of Science in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. At West Point, Crawford managed to get involved as a junior faculty member, and gained an interest in becoming a teacher as well.
“As I finished up teaching, I really enjoyed it. I wrote a helicopter design program for use in our helicopter design class and I published a paper on that with the American Society for Engineering Education. So, that was my first involvement with ASEE, and that was back in 1998,” Crawford said. Having retired in 2014, he ended up joining Quinnipiac University to help start up their burgeoning engineering school.
“I did a lot of ... searching the last three years of my army career,” said Crawford. “I started my search and Quinnipiac came up on my radar as the right size, and the right focus on teaching that I was looking for. … And as I got into the interview process and got to talk to the faculty here, it became pretty clear we could, I think, build a special program from the ground up here that really focused on the things I'd like to focus on. And I’ll just say, it’s been almost nine years I’ve been here, and I have not been disappointed at all. I don’t think I could have made a better decision.”
Founded in 1893, ASEE spans a network across the globe. In a world that Crawford sees is in need of engineers to tackle growing problems that are facing people from all walks of life. With a world population anticipated to near 10 billion by 2050, he believes it will be up to the people in their field to devise new solutions for clean water, energy, food, waste disposal, medical care and beyond.
As one of the key leaders in ASEE who has been involved for many years, Crawford believes that taking on the role of president will allow him to steer the group’s efforts toward addressing tomorrow’s problems and laying the foundation for meaningful education in the present.
“It's very humbling, and I’m really honored to be able to serve my society in that capacity and to hopefully secure its future for all of its members,” Crawford said.