Weichold focuses on student success in role as senior associate dean of academic affairs

The Texas A&M University College of Engineering recently named Dr. Mark H. Weichold senior associate dean of academic affairs. Weichold, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is executive director of the Halliburton Engineering Global Programs, and previously served as dean and CEO of Texas A&M’s branch campus in Doha, Qatar.

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Weichold began his new role leading Engineering Academic and Student Affairs this summer, and he said he’s enjoying the opportunity to make an impact on the success of students.

“When we admit students to the Texas A&M engineering program, it is a very careful process,” he said. “Through our holistic review process we’re looking at more than just a student’s grades. We’re looking at the whole student. They might not have the best SAT score, but they were great in drama or swimming — and that’s important, too.”

Weichold’s goal is to retain 90 percent of all first- and second-year engineering students. To achieve this, he’s taking a close look at how the college helps undergraduate students — freshmen in particular — succeed.

“The benefit will be an engineering student body that is much richer,” he said. “When you have different kinds of students sitting at a design table from different backgrounds and with different skills, the end result will ultimately be a better design.”

Weichold said that companies are interested in hiring engineers who are well-rounded and can easily adapt to change. That’s why the college has created ENGR[x], a program that requires all engineering students (beginning with incoming freshmen this fall) to pursue activities outside the classroom that can broaden their knowledge and skillset. From studying abroad to volunteering, participating in Aggies Invent or leading a student organization, graduates from the College of Engineering will have a resumé that is even more attractive to potential employers.

Weichold said that Texas A&M engineering students already stand apart, and ENGR[x] will help highlight the activities students are already doing and provide a platform for them to share their success.

“Based on the feedback I receive from people who hire our graduates, our students are well-prepared technically, but they also have great work ethic,” he said. “They are ready to hit the ground running and they have a desire to excel and work hard. People always comment on how quickly students from Texas A&M set themselves apart with their leadership abilities and their ability to work in teams.”

Engineering graduates need to think of the big picture, Weichold said. And that’s the guiding force behind his strategy as senior associate dean.  

The Texas Workforce Commission projects the need for 53,000 more engineers in Texas by 2024.The College of Engineering is answering that call with the 25 by 25 initiative, which will increase the number of engineering students in the Texas A&M Engineering program to 25,000 by 2025 while also increasing the quality of education. Weichold said he is excited for the opportunity to take on this challenge.

“I have a pretty diverse set of experiences that I bring to the table,” he said. “I am a first-generation college student, I have industry experience as an electrical engineer, I worked in a government lab at the U.S. Army Electronic Technology and Devices Lab and I worked overseas at our branch campus for nine years.”

Weichold’s collective experience gives him a unique perspective as he takes on the challenge of increasing overall student success and ultimately preparing the future workforce to solve many of the world’s problems.

Weichold joined the College of Engineering at Texas A&M as an assistant professor in 1982 and became dean and CEO of the Qatar campus in 2007. He has also served as the dean of undergraduate programs and associate provost for academic services at Texas A&M in College Station from 1998-2006. In 2009 he was recognized as a Regents Professor for his outstanding work and exemplary contribution to Texas A&M. In 2013 he was awarded the Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah International Energy Award for lifetime achievement for the advancement of education.

Weichold is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a member of the American Physical Society and a registered professional engineer in the state of Texas.