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Message from the Dean

November 3rd, 2008

Just as last week’s memo opened with a description of SEAS’ forthcoming course in nuclear engineering, this week I begin with yet more exciting news on the programmatic front: The University’s latest offering, Archaeology, Engineering and Architecture, promises both an interdepartmental learning experience for students, as well as an enhanced global perspective.

Under Program Director and SEAS’ own Renato Perucchio, a professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, students will learn how engineering methodologies, as well as archaeological, architectural, historical, and anthropological practices, shaped technology — and in turn, how those interdisciplinary relationships helped mold ancient civilizations and the pre-industrial world.

Foundation and core courses include “Engineering in Antiquity,” “Ancient Architecture,” and “Medieval Archaeology,” and students will have opportunities to go abroad and collaborate with faculty at a number of prestigious foreign academic institutions. Nationally speaking, this truly is an extraordinary program, and I am pleased that the School of Engineering is playing a key role in its introduction — and in the enhanced preparation of our graduates for the world that awaits them.

Speaking of curriculum, today, Monday November 3, two speakers, Kevin Schulte and Ernie Pritchard, from Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc, an Ontario, NY based company that commercializes wind turbines, will make presentations on “large” wind and “small” wind turbines in CSB 523, from 12:30 to 2:30pm. This presentation is part of the course “Energy for the 21st Century,” and all UR faculty and students are welcome.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering’s weekly colloquium from 4 to 5:30 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 6, will welcome visitor Poorvi Vora, an assistant professor of Computer Science at George Washington University. Professor Vora is an expert in cryptology and will present the lecture, “Privacy and eBay’s Second-Chance Offer.” (As an aside, another of Prof. Vora’s research interests is electronic voting. How timely!) This event will be held in room 209 of the Computer Studies Building, and a speaker’s reception beforehand, from 3:30 to 4 p.m., will include refreshments with an informal opportunity to chat with our visitor.

My weekly office hours on Friday, Nov. 14, are scheduled later than usual, from 10 to 11 a.m. in Lattimore 309. If we’ve yet to meet — or, of course, even if we’ve met before — I encourage you to stop by.

Obviously, one of my priorities as dean is to build on SEAS’ sense of community, and to that end, we have put together an online SEAS Events Calendar. To add it to your Google Calendar, simply go to your personal calendar and select Add — which will give you the option to add a Public Calendar. You can then search for the calendar named “UR SEAS Events.” Since this is a public calendar, anyone can view it. If you would like to add an event to the calendar, you’ll need to contact your department administrator. I hope it will prove a valuable tool for keeping us all connected, and I encourage everyone to visit it often.

Finally, it’s time to announce last week’s winners of the 7th Annual ASME Jack-O-Launcher competition, which I had the distinct honor of co-judging on Halloween in Dandelion Square. First place – Team “Last Night” – made up of members of the university’s Mini Baja racecar team. Team Last Night also won “Best Mechanical Design.” Second place – Team “Bacon” – consisting of UR swimmers. Third Place- Team “Livonia High School” — composed of Livonia juniors and seniors. Livonia also won “Longest hang-time.” Congratulations to all participants for engaging in design and contributing to a very enjoyable afternoon.

Message from the Dean

October 27th, 2008

As many of you well know, the field of engineering is changing by the day — and, as one would expect, engineering schools must evolve, too, to keep pace with the profession. In the Spring of 2009, SEAS’ Department of Mechanical Engineering will begin offering “Introduction to Nuclear Engineering,” a four-credit course developed for ME juniors and seniors, as well as Chemistry, Physics, and Earth and Environmental Sciences students. Teaching the course will be Gordon Verdin, the principal engineer for Constellation Energy’s Ginna Nuclear Power Plant.
Indeed, this programmatic addition is about meeting a growing global demand: As an August 2008 article in U.S. News & World Report proclaimed, “… worldwide interest in nuclear energy and technology (are) skyrocketing, (and) engineers with a nuclear background are feeling very popular these days.” Clearly, SEAS is committed to providing its students with every chance they need to be successful upon graduation — and by enhancing its curriculum to include topics of societal importance, we’re doing our best to prepare our students for the many challenges they will face in the future.

Three days from now, I will have the privilege of presenting to the campus community University alumnus Paul Horn, on hand to deliver the talk, “The Changing Nature of Innovation.” The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct.30, in the Fantone Room (room 109) of the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics. A reception will follow.

Dr. Horn received his Ph.D. in Physics here in 1974 and recently retired as Senior Vice President for Research at IBM Corporation, where he directed the company’s research programs in five countries around the world. Horn received the University of Rochester’s Hutchison Medal in 2002, and is now a Distinguished Scientist in Residence at NYU. I encourage you all to attend the event on Thursday for what is sure to be an enlightening and inspiring address.

On the lighter side of scheduling, I would like to remind all undergraduates that I hold open office hours on Friday mornings. Typically the office hours are scheduled from 8-9 a.m.; however this Friday, I will be holding open office hours from 9:30-10:30 a.m. I want to see if the later hour has any impact on the number of students that drop by. This past Friday I had the pleasure of meeting with several representatives and officers from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). They brought Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee, and we had some great discussions about their experiences here at U of R. I owe those students a special thank-you for an engaging conversation — and caffeine!

As it’s customary to end these memos on a light-hearted note, I welcome you to stop by ASME’s 2008 Pumpkin Launch Competition from 2-4:30 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 31 (of course!), in front of Wilson Commons, by Dandelion Square. I’ve been asked to help judge the competitors, picking the winners for most team spirit, coolest launcher, and best technical design. And while I certainly intend to take my role as esteemed judge seriously, this experience ought to be a real treat for me. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Message from the Dean

October 13th, 2008

Seeing as this is my first weekly post to the students, faculty, and staff of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, it seems fitting to begin with acknowledgment of our impressive history: “The Future of Innovation,” a Meliora Weekend symposium marking the School’s 50thanniversary, is part of a year-long celebration of the founding of the University’s school of engineering five decades ago. This event, from 1-5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17, at Hoyt Hall, will feature the following keynote addresses:

  • “Engineering and the Future of Space Exploration,” by Daniel N. Koharski ’85, systems engineer for NASA who has worked on the Mars Rover and space shuttle
  • “Engineering and Entrepreneurship,” by Stephen D. Fantone ’79 (PhD), president and CEO of Optikos Corporation, and Duncan T. Moore ’74 (PhD), Rudolf and Hilda Kingslake Professor of Optical Engineering; professor of optics, biomedical engineering, and business administration; and vice provost for entrepreneurship at the University

A 50th anniversary reception will follow from 5-7p.m. in the atrium of the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics. Click here for more information about Meliora Weekend. I do hope to see you all on the 17th.

Robert W. Boyd, M. Parker Givens Professor of Optics and Professor of Physics, has been selected to receive the prestigious W.E. Lamb Medal for Laser Science and Quantum Optics. The honor will be presented to him at the Physics Quantum Electronics Winter Colloquium in January. A letter written by Colloquium staff congratulated Prof. Boyd on his “outstanding career and the esteem with which his colleagues regard him.” Previous Lamb Medalists include Al Cho, Federico Capasso, Roy Glauber, and Herbert Walther.

Emil Wolf, Wilson Professor of Optical Physics, was also recognized recently as winner of the 2008 Joseph W. Goodman Book Writing Award, which he will receive at the Optical Society of America Frontiers of Optics2008 meeting Oct. 19-23. The award was bestowed for Emil’s book, “Introduction to the Theory of Coherence and Polarization of Light” (Cambridge University Press, 2007), which the international optics and photonics society SPIE is commending as “the first to provide a unified treatment of the phenomena of coherence and polarization.” In addition, an award-selection committee member said the book was chosen “for its excellent writing, rigor, and clarity,” and went on to say the decision to honor Emil’s work was “unanimous.”

Of course, I must not forget to highlight the accomplishments of our outstanding students, as well. Department of Athletics and Recreation Director George VanderZwaag recently recognized the University’s top seven senior scholar-athletes as Garnish Scholars, selected annually for the excellence they have displayed consistently throughout their careers here, both academically and in varsity sports. And one of this year’s Garnish Scholars is Erica Gelb, an electrical engineering major and varsity field hockey and lacrosse player from Baltimore, Md. In each of her past three seasons, Erica has been named to the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s Division II Academic Squad, and last spring, she was part of a University’s women’s lacrosse team that had the second-highest cumulative grade point average in the country. She was also named to the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association’s Academic Honor Roll.

As I’ve mentioned, I intend to send one of these electronic memos out each week, in hopes of keeping our community apprised of the many exciting things happening here at SEAS. Please, if you have any relevant news items — big or small — that you’d like to submit for inclusion in a future memo, don’t hesitate to e-mail them to my administrative assistant, Rosemary Boyd Parker, at