Championing Research Personnel
Herschel Cudd, head of the EES' Chemical Sciences Division, replaced EES Director Rosselot in 1952. Cudd's tenure lasted only about a year, but he made important strides toward involving more Georgia Tech faculty in EES research.
Under Rosselot, the trend had been toward concentrating all Georgia Tech research in the hands of a relatively few EES staffers. Cudd quickly moved in the opposite direction, and the annual report for 1952-53 noted that 66 faculty representing 15 schools had performed research at EES during the year.
While many held professorial academic rank—a fact that irritated some members of the teaching faculty—they lacked a doctorate or other qualification for promotion as established by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia’s policies.
Cudd’s seven proposed professional job titles and matching qualifications met the Regents' criteria for promotion. They also mitigated a degree of the friction between teaching faculty and EES research faculty. In ascending order, the titles were:
- Research assistant,
- Junior research scientist or engineer,
- Research scientist or engineer, and
- Senior research scientist or engineer
The positions corresponded to instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor.
One key feature in terms of qualifications for the highest ranks was to allow "significant research experience" to substitute for a doctorate. Cudd explained, "It is not our plan to degrade ranks but rather to substitute research ability and experience for teaching ability and experience in deciding on advancement in rank within the Engineering Experiment Station."
The final plan, as approved by the Regents in the spring of 1953, allowed full-time EES personnel with academic rank to retain their status, subject to the normal requirements for advancement. Researchers opting to join the new structure—which was the great majority of them—could advance their careers within the new system, but would not be eligible for tenure. Cudd's plan provided the foundation for the job-title hierarchy still followed today.
The Growth of Graduate Education
Many full-time EES researchers acted in the role of teacher, in practice if not in formal title. Through the EES’ Department of Short Courses and Conferences, research staff taught specialized and advanced courses for graduate students and industry personnel.
Education has been an important aspect of the EES mission since its inception. The Board of Regents' annual report for 1935 noted that EES’ primary purpose was to harness the "scientific talents of the faculty and the graduate students" to solve engineering problems.
The growth of graduate education at Georgia Tech critically depended on EES equipment, labs and staff, who frequently supervised student projects. Graduate education generally got off to a slow start at Tech. Master's programs were offered in the 1920s, but a Ph.D. curriculum didn’t appear until 1946. Regardless, about 80 students earned graduate degrees while working at the EES in 1952 alone.
Interestingly, 57 undergrads conducted research at EES that year as well, decades before undergraduate research participation became common at universities. Connecting students with EES not only furnished a key element of their education, but provided EES with an inexpensive talent pool.