It is now the fall term, the first academic term of my tenure as department head. This is also my first column in Signals and I would like to begin by acknowledging the many contributions of my predecessor: Professor David Lilja. Dave worked hard to improve the department in many ways. One very concrete measure of his success was an increase of research funding by 150% to its current value of about $20 million/year. Almost all of this funding comes from competitive grants and contracts with various federal departments/agencies and industry. Under his leadership, the department maintained a position among the world’s leading ECE departments at a time when this is becoming increasing difficult for public universities.
I was advised before taking this position that most of my time would be spent reacting to various issues that arise, but it is important to have some goals of my own. Following this advice, I would like to mention three areas where I intend to focus my efforts. First, I hope to make the department more attractive to prospective undergraduate students by more forcefully drawing attention to the advantages and opportunities that ECE has to offer. Second, about 80% of our current PhD students received financial offers when being recruited to the university: I would like this to be 100%, thus helping us fulfill our research potential. Finally, I believe that our department could greatly benefit from more interdisciplinary research, particularly large centers such as those funded by the National Science Foundation. I intend to provide more details on these topics in future issues of this newsletter.
Finally, I want to thank you for your previous support of ECE and I hope that together we can bring this department into the bright future that seems possible.