Dean's Message

Combined skill sets drive relevance

December 2022

Albert P. Pisano

Behind the scenes, I'm working to help finalize a new effort to bring STEM problem-solving skills to non-STEM undergraduates at UC San Diego. At the same time, we are working to create new options for STEM students to develop digital storytelling skills. Watch this space for updates in early 2023. This kind of work energizes me. I've seen again and again that when engineering and computer science students have opportunities to learn and combine disparate skill sets, they are better able to accomplish their personal goals.

Thinking about the value of combined skill sets inevitably pulls me toward well-trodden family lore. As a high school junior, I introduced my dad to just enough math to win a $20 bet with his supervisor at work. I had recently learned to compute the volume of conic sections, and I showed my dad how to use this skill to calculate the amount of sand stockpiled at a worksite and determine whether more sand was needed. My dad won the bet with his supervisor, and I got real-world positive feedback encouraging me to keep taking math seriously – despite the fact that I was in a high school where excitement for advanced math and engineering was not the norm.

Teams with diverse skill sets will always be important, but we also need to do a better job of empowering our engineering and computer science undergraduates to acquire and combine diverse skill sets within themselves. That's one of the projects I'll be carrying into 2023. At times, I have described these skill sets as languages of engineering. Math fluency, artificial intelligence and machine learning, engineering theory, and practical problem solving are just a few examples. Digital storytelling will be another important skill undergraduates at the Jacobs School will have access to.
Combining skill sets offers students opportunities to use the engineering and computer science fundamentals to accomplish things they care about. It is a strategy for inspiring young people from absolutely all walks of life to pursue engineering and computer science degrees. A set of video introductions to our engineering and computer science majors here at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering highlights some of the ways combined skill sets can drive relevance. I hope you will share them with prospective students and families.

As we close out 2022,  I am profoundly grateful for everything we have accomplished this year despite the headwinds that have come from multiple directions. I'd like to thank everyone who has stepped up in myriad ways to enable us to empower our students, faculty and staff and to strengthen and expand our physical infrastructure. Working together is how we make bold possible.

Read our full December 2022 message here (PDF).

As always, I can be reached at



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