Barry Johnson: a passionate engineer and leader

Justin Runquist

Dr. Barry Johnson is extraordinarily passionate about education, engineering and life.

“It’s an unbelievable excitement to start from a concept and end up with a product that is good for mankind,” he said. “There is an exhilaration there that is incredible.”

“This passion for problem solving,” Johnson said, “is typically the driving motivation for engineers.” This optimistic spirit helped him become successful in industry: at Motorola, Du Pont and finally as senior vice president and chief technology officer of Honeywell International.

This same optimistic spirit is evident throughout other aspects of his life. This enthusiasm led him to pursue a quality Catholic education at Villanova University and continue research at Carnegie Mellon University. His optimistic attitude led him as he dropped out of school to support his family when his mother became ill. And his enthusiasm for education has led him to return to the University as dean of the engineering college to stimulate the program with new ideas and new challenges.

Always exploring

“I believe undergraduate education can always be explored further,” Johnson said. “I want to bring real creativity into the education that our undergraduates receive at Villanova.”

For the past two years at Honeywell, Johnson strived to create the best possible products in technology. At Villanova, his goal is to work with faculty to create the best possible educational product for students. While Johnson loved the challenges of industry, he welcomes the opportunity to help young adults. “At this point in my life, there is a higher purpose for me to turn out excellent students here at Villanova instead of producing microchips.”

Johnson said the faculty and staff hope to bring Villanova’s engineering school into national prominence at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He believes in taking the road less traveled route toward education, where an ongoing critical assessment of the curriculum and instruction is driven by student needs.

“We need to take a good look at our learning process,” Johnson said. “As engineers, we evaluate things by measuring them. We also need to evaluate the value of our students’ education by measuring what they absorb and how much they learn. We need to constantly tinker to improve our approach toward educational research and helping students obtain current knowledge.”