UCSC's Baskin School of Engineering celebrates 10 years of innovation

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and its emergence as a vibrant and innovative center for research and education. An Open House on Friday, February 23, will kick off a series of events over the next few months to mark this milestone in the development of UCSC's first professional school.

The Open House, scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m., will include lab tours, research presentations, raffle prizes, refreshments, and other festivities in the Engineering Courtyard and nearby buildings. Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal, Engineering Dean Steve Kang, and Jack Baskin, whose $5 million gift helped launch the school a decade ago, will make brief remarks starting at 3:30 p.m.

In the months ahead, the Baskin School will also be hosting a distinguished lecture series, a research poster symposium, and other events to celebrate 10 years of achievements and the creation of an engineering school poised to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

Launched in 1997, the Baskin School of Engineering was built on the foundation of two strong programs--the Departments of Computer Science and Computer Engineering. It has since grown to include five departments, with more in the planning stages, and the number of faculty has grown from 25 to 72.

"We have been most fortunate to have been able to recruit outstanding faculty members. Their achievements in research and teaching serve as a magnet to attract more students and more support from industry and grants," Kang said. "With equally outstanding staff, plus energetic students who are an inspiration to both faculty and staff, we have built a strong team in the Baskin School of Engineering."

Engineering faculty have developed innovative programs that cross disciplinary boundaries, pioneering new areas of research and creating exciting opportunities for students. New buildings completed in 2004--the award-winning Engineering 2 and the Baskin Engineering Auditorium--have greatly expanded the school's research and teaching facilities.

During 10 years of rapid progress, the Baskin School of Engineering has developed a unique interdisciplinary focus with programs in three strategic areas: information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. The school has also spearheaded UCSC's Silicon Valley initiatives, serving the needs of the high-technology industry by creating new graduate programs for engineers offered through the campus's Silicon Valley Center.

"Over the next ten years, we will continue to build our interdisciplinary programs and establish a strong presence in Silicon Valley," said Michael Isaacson, professor and chair of electrical engineering and science director for the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) at NASA Ames Research Center.

The Bio-Info-Nano Research and Development Institute (BIN-RDI) at the campus's Silicon Valley Center is an especially exciting new development, he said. The institute is establishing a broad partnership of government, academia, and industry focusing on the convergence of biotechnology, information technology, and nanotechnology.

"The BIN-RDI is fostering new and productive ties between UCSC researchers, Silicon Valley industry, and other institutions in the region," Isaacson said.

According to Kang, the engineering school owes much of its rapid progress to the critical role played by retired engineer and philanthropist Jack Baskin, a UCSC Foundation trustee, and his wife Peggy Downes Baskin, who have provided crucial support throughout the development of UCSC's engineering program. Baskin's gifts to the school that bears his name now total nearly $8 million, and his contributions were recognized in 2006 when he was inducted into the Silicon Valley Hall of Fame.

"As dean, I am immensely grateful to Jack and Peggy Baskin. They are truly leaving a legacy in building the Baskin School of Engineering," Kang said.

Kang, who has been appointed to serve as the new chancellor of UC Merced starting in March, said his appointment reflects well on the accomplishments of the engineering school as a whole.

"Collectively we have done a good job in building the Baskin School of Engineering at UCSC, and that has earned the confidence of the UC system," he said.