Dr. Yong X. Tao About The Dean

Yong Tao, Ph.D., P.E., FASME

When you think about engineers, what images come to mind? Do you imagine “brainy” people hovering over a computer working on complicated specs and renderings? Do you think about creativity and innovation?

Yong Tao, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Engineering and Computing, wants to help clarify your perspective.

“I play the piano and I’m an amateur carpenter,” he said. “I like to build things. That’s what engineers do, we create.”

Although creativity and design are often associated with the arts, Dr. Tao said engineering and computing students are out-of-the-box thinkers who want to build things from concepts and ideas.

“I encourage students - if they like to create something that has never existed, that’s what engineering and computing is about. As the iPhone was developed, it wasn’t found in nature, it was created. Other science professions are discovering, we are creating.”

Attracting Future Technology Leaders

Dr. Tao wants the college to attract bright, inventive students who see technology as a way to improve lives.

“We want to be innovating. We want to be a college that serves students, community, and attracts talent. Industries are eager to look for education that can keep the pace of technology and innovation. That’s every educator’s dream, to minimize the gap between the structured education and the rapid ever-changing technology,” he said. “By the time we teach something to the students, fundamentals, they’re ready to face the real world. They can adapt fast, but also be aware of their impact in society, humanity, and environment. I want our college to be at the forefront of providing that adaptability to technology.”

According to Dr. Tao, the college’s professors make a huge difference in closing the gap as they stay ahead of industry trends.

“Our faculty members are very experienced in that many of them have worked in the industry,” he said. “Our curriculum has a basic structure but it has a lot of flexibility. It allows our faculty to teach, especially in the competition areas – artificial intelligence, robotics, sensors. The faculty attend conferences so they can implement the new findings in their next courses. We have been doing that for years.”

Leadership, analytical and critical thinking skills, as well as dedicated hard work are also important components of engineering and computing. Dr. Tao, who grew up in China, learned at an early age that hard work and an optimistic outlook can help one achieve greatness. His attitude is infectious.

Persistence Leads to Accomplishments

“If we have problems, we must fight through and find a solution,” he said. “I always ask students what they’re passionate about and I tell them to just do it! Stick with it and stay positive. Work more efficiently to get things done. It takes persistence. Later, all you remember are the accomplishments.”

Dr. Tao’s numerous accomplishments include working with students to build three solar houses. “That’s my hobby. All the electricity comes from solar energy. The houses have sensors for temperature, humidity, how much energy you’re saving and consuming.”

Despite his impressive resume, Dr. Tao says he takes pride in his ability to work with everyone regardless of his or her specific discipline.

“I show respect. When you show respect, you earn trust and the rest follows along. Because when you earn trust, they will listen to you even if they do not want to hear it. I work with people with different disciplines. I just always listen and respect people and we are able to accomplish things together,” he said. “For example, for a multidisciplinary project, I don’t have to be the only leader, as long as we can get the best team to get resources and get the mission accomplished. You put your ego aside, and look for what’s best for the group. I practice that at NSU and that’s how we’ll continue.”

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