Dean's Message

I know a life-changing opportunity when I see one

September 2022

Albert P. Pisano

I am honored to share the news that UC San Diego is leading a new $5M NSF effort to support low-income transfer students to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering and computer science. The program is designed to eliminate opportunity gaps. How? Through significant scholarships and paid summer research opportunities. Crucially, this support is combined with comprehensive cohort-based, success-promoting programming for students who are brimming with academic ability, talent and potential. The program is called EMPOWER, and it is led by Bill Lin, electrical and computer engineering professor and department chair here at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

I know life-changing educational opportunities when I see them. As a kid from a family of Italian construction workers in New York, I was the first in my family to go to college. Yes, I worked extremely hard as a student; yes, I stayed focused; and yes, I found joy in learning. But I also caught many lucky breaks as a student, in the form of scholarships, fellowships and engineering-related student jobs. I am certain that without these opportunities as a student, I would not be a first-generation college grad with a PhD in mechanical engineering and a job as dean at a top-10 engineering school. Perhaps that's why I'm so excited to talk about the EMPOWER program, which serves transfer students studying engineering and computer science at UC San Diego, as well as engineering students at two nearby community colleges: Southwestern College and Imperial Valley College.

A big piece of engineering and computer science education is the mindset and skill set that you leave with. This requires practice, and time to practice. I'm thrilled that EMPOWER will give transfer students financial breathing room along with the tools and opportunities to build the social, academic, and practical foundations for successful careers in engineering and computer science.

This new program adds to an ever growing constellation of efforts to provide all our students at the Jacobs School with the resources they need to thrive. EMPOWER also engages people all across UC San Diego in an organized fashion to ensure that our collective impact is as great as possible.

With more than 9,500 students a year enrolled at the Jacobs School, we are moving the needle when it comes to educating the innovative, diverse technological workforce our society needs. But there is more work to do to ensure every student reaches their full potential. I won't let up until every single student at the Jacobs School has all the opportunities they need.

Read the full September 2022 news email online.

As always, I can be reached at


Albert ("Al") P. Pisano, Dean
UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering