The distance between the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing and the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) stretches over 70 miles through the heart of the Palmetto State. From the bustle of the state capital to the tranquility of a rural town, the two schools can at times feel worlds apart. But thanks to the dedication of CEC alumnus Daniel Dorsel, that gap is closing, and a new generation of engineers and computer scientists are ready to bring South Carolina into the future.
Dorsel began his relationship with the GSSM as a member of its inaugural graduating class. He then went on to South Carolina and received his mechanical engineering degree in 1995, where he graduated summa cum laude and as a Barry Goldwater Scholar. He returned to the Governor’s School in 2012 as an administrator and was named as the school’s new president this June.
“We are proud to see our alumnus be named to such an important position in our state,” said Hossein Haj-Hariri, dean of the CEC. “We have a long-term and important relationship with the Governor’s School (for Science and Math), and Danny has been an important partner in that relationship. In his new capacity as the permanent president, I am confident he will do even a more wonderful job fostering an environment for South Carolina’s brightest students to thrive.”
Before working in education, Dorsel worked as a consultant for PWC, but he ultimately found his passion working with students. Although he no longer works in industry, Dorsel said his engineering career and time at the CEC greatly shaped the way he works with students.
“When I talk with our students who graduate or finish our engineering program, I say there's three things that engineers do,” said Dorsel. “The first is to see every problem as an opportunity, and the second is how can I arrive at the most efficient solution? The third piece is you absolutely can't do anything of that magnitude by yourself, and so you really have to rely on others.”
Thanks to Dorsel’s efforts and the work of other GSSM leaders, Dorsel says that 60 to 70% of the school’s students decide to stay in South Carolina for college. By offering college courses at their campus in Hartsville, South Carolina and through a virtual program statewide, the hope is that GSSM students will finish most of their freshman year courses in high school and be able to focus on their major classes once they get to college.
“We are preparing them for the next step where there's little to no transition into the expectations or the rigor of what they'll experience in college,” said Dorsel. “If they come here and enjoy learning in STEM areas, then they are going to excel in college.”
Dorsel hopes the experience students get at GSSM and college will prepare them for roles and careers that have an impact in South Carolina, the nation and the world. He also has advice for students preparing to enter the workforce.
“Be open to opportunities that come your way and give it 100% because you never know where it's going to lead,” he said. “Also, be involved in your community because you never know what relationships, what connections are going to lead you to your passion or to some other opportunity.”