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Hajim School Dean Wendi Heinzelman reappointed to five-year term

July 27, 2020
Wendi Heinzelman speaks from podiumHajim School Dean Wendi Heinzelman (University photo by Adam Fenster)

Wendi Heinzelman, who in 2016 was appointed the first woman dean of the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, has been reappointed to a second five-year term, Provost Rob Clark announced. Heinzelman’s deanship renewal was approved by the Board of Trustees at a recent meeting.

“The Hajim School is in great hands with Wendi at the helm,” said Clark. “Throughout the decanal review process, we uniformly heard high praise for her work. She has shown incredible leadership recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty and students, introducing curricular innovations, and strategically growing the research profile. She is accelerating the momentum of the Hajim School and the University of Rochester, and I’m thrilled that she agreed to serve another five-year term.”

“Wendi is a forward-thinking leader who builds consensus around ideas to move the Hajim School forward,” said Donald Hall, Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering. “Her dedication to the student learning experience is evident and adds tremendous value to the school. I can’t think of a better person to serve in this key leadership position.”

The Hajim School comprises a variety of programs, departments, and institutes, including audio and music engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, and optics. The Goergen Institute for Data Science continues to be a key focus area for the school. Hajim faculty contribute to many of the application areas of data science, in addition to foundational research in data science tools, methods, and techniques.

Under Heinzelman’s direction, the Hajim School has significantly increased research expenditures and added new initiatives in data science, high energy density physics, and augmented and virtual reality, among others. She has expanded experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students, including introducing the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) to the school. She continues to support and to help launch several large-scale, crossdisciplinary research initiatives, including new initiatives in advanced materials for powerful lasers (AMPL), quantum technologies, materials research, sensors and diagnostics, and biological imaging/microscopy.

Since 2016, she has increased the diversity of Hajim’s undergraduate and faculty communities, and increased the number of women enrolled in Hajim bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD programs, as well as on the faculty. Of the approximately 1,736 full-time engineering undergraduates in the fall of 2019, 31.1 percent are women, 10.5 percent are underrepresented minorities, and 33.5 percent are international students.

Heinzelman is dedicated to encouraging more women to study and choose careers in engineering and computer science. She co-founded Networking Networking Women (N2 Women), an international organization that fosters connections among the under-represented women in computer networking and related research fields. She instills in students the importance of being well-rounded engineers and computer scientists who appreciate how humanistic knowledge, especially, can inform their work. Heinzelman leads with the belief that engineering has relevance to the arts, medicine, social sciences, natural sciences, business, and education, and these disciplines have relevance to engineering. She has worked to find and grow those connections and foster collaborations that lead to innovative research and educational initiatives.

Before becoming dean, Heinzelman was dean of graduate studies in Arts, Sciences & Engineering, a position established to strengthen and grow graduate programs and provide an umbrella for graduate studies so that master’s and doctoral students are more connected to AS&E as a whole. During her time in this role, she worked with the AS&E faculty to develop innovative specialized and interdisciplinary graduate programs, such as a graduate degree program in technical entrepreneurship and management.  She worked closely with the Goergen Institute for Data Science to develop the first master’s degree in data science.

She is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering with a secondary appointment in computer science. She joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2001 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 2012. Her research focuses on wireless communication, networking, mobile computing, and multimedia communication, in particular transforming users’ experiences with mobile ad hoc and wireless sensor networks through design of advanced protocols and architectures. Applications include communications tools for soldiers in the field, enabling conservation through the observation of remote areas, and mobile devices that support personalized health monitoring and learning about family dynamics and healthy interpersonal communication. In 2018, she was one of three Hajim School faculty to be elected a fellow of the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM). ACM, a society of educators, researchers, and professionals in the computing field, chooses less than one percent of its global membership to be fellows. Heinzelman’s citation was for “contributions to wireless communication systems and protocols, and leadership in broadening participation in computing.”

She is an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) fellow and a board member of the Goergen Institute’s Rochester Data Science Consortium, launched in 2017 in partnership with New York State funding for the creation of knowledge-based jobs in Rochester and further the region’s development as a high-tech hub.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1995, and her master’s and doctoral degrees from MIT in 1997 and 2000, respectively.

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