UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering University of California San Diego
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Building an Infrastructure for the Future

As you know, I will step down as Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering on July 1st. These past eight and a half years have been an incredible ride for the School and for me. I’d like to take this opportunity to say “Thank You” to all of you for supporting us so strongly. The Jacobs School is now counted among the best engineering schools in the nation, and this is due to the quality of our people, the support of our friends, and the programs we’ve built together.

Over this past decade, we have also created a very strong infrastructure that will ensure the future success of the Jacobs School. Nowhere else in the country is there an engineering school with the reputation we have, with the partnerships we have with industry, and with the plans we have for growth over the coming decade. We remain the opportunity for engineering in the country.

Our strategy has been to invest in focus areas where we can lead and make a difference for our region and our nation. One of our early successes was our Center for Wireless Communications, established in February 1995. This Center now serves as a model for how focused, productive academic-industry research collaboration can fuel long term innovation. Building on this success, we formed the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, which now includes more than 50 corporate members, 220 faculty, $100 million in state funding, and more than $200 million in private support.

We also realized that to be a great engineering school, we had to grow in size and scope. Over the past nine years we’ve increased the size of our faculty by 60%, increased undergraduate student enrollment by 37%, and increased graduate enrollment by 70%. We are now about two-thirds of the way towards our steady state size of 250 faculty, 4,500 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students.

To build a great institution, you must have an extraordinary faculty. This has been UCSD’s trademark since its beginning and the secret to our phenomenal success. We at the Jacobs School have worked diligently to live up to this tradition. Approximately 55 faculty joined us over the past decade, each one a leader in his or her field. And I expect that by this fall 10 to 15 new faculty will have joined the School. You can read more about one of our exciting new hires, Songho Jin, on page 9 of this newsletter. Songho is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a world leader in materials science and nanotechnology.

External support has been critical for us, and there are no greater friends of the School than Irwin and Joan Jacobs. In 1998, they provided a generous endowment gift that has provided us the resources we need to attract some of the most sought after faculty in the nation. Their recent gifts have also supported scholarships and fellowships for students, allowing us to compete for the very best students in California and the world.

Two foundations who have made a lasting impact on the School are the Whitaker Foundation and the Charles Lee Powell Foundation. The Whitaker Foundation provided generous support over the years which helped us build our top-ranked bioengineering department. The Powell Foundation has stepped up over and over again to support faculty research, student fellowships, equipment, and construction of our worldfamous Charles Lee Powell Structural Research Laboratories. Most recently, these foundations, as well as the people of California, have made important investments in the physical infrastructure of the School.

Last month we broke ground on two new buildings, one for our Computer Science and Engineering Department and one for Cal-(IT)² , both made possible by state funding. This fall, we open the doors to our new Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall, made possible by support from the Whitaker Foundation, the Powell Foundation and the William J. von Liebig Foundation. Taken together, these facilities are adding 450,000 square feet for research and education.

I must of course thank our wonderful Corporate Affiliates Program members, some of whom have partnered with the School for well over two decades. This program serves as the foundation of our efforts to build partnerships between companies and their engineers, and the Jacobs School and its faculty and students. The program has grown tremendously and, together with our research centers, has yielded partnerships with close to 80 companies.

Finally, I must acknowledge and thank our supporters —individuals and families, foundations, and corporations —whose gifts large and small have enabled what we have accomplished. Altogether, more than $145 million has been donated to the School over the past nine years, one of the strongest outpourings of support for engineering in the nation.

As I conclude my term as Dean, I am very pleased that my colleague and fellow NAE member, Professor Frieder Seible, has agreed to serve as Acting Dean for the Jacobs School during the period when the campus conducts its search for the next Dean. Last fall, Frieder agreed to serve as our Executive Associate Dean, and since then he has become my partner in leading the School forward. From knowing him, and now working with him daily, I know he will provide wise and dynamic leadership, ensuring that we will not miss a beat going forward.

We should all be proud of what we have accomplished together, and I am absolutely confident that the best for the Jacobs School is yet to come.

Thank You ,

  Bob Conn, Dean