Weekly Memo

Dear members of the Hajim School community:

I hope everyone is in high spirits as we begin this first full week of May. As we draw near the end of another semester and academic year, for many students, this also means the completion of their undergraduate program here at UR. This is the time of year when everyone must work hard to maintain momentum – and speaking of momentum, I have some news to share.

First, I extend congratulations to our colleague, Provost Emeritus Brian Thompson. At its 110th annual gala held April 28 at the convention center, the Rochester Engineering Society named Dr. Thompson 2011’s Engineer of the Year. This title – for which he was one of four esteemed finalists – is now the latest among many he has held over his more than 40-year career. Dr. Thompson joined the Rochester faculty in 1968, and over the decades that followed served as the William F. May Professor of Engineering, the Director of the Institute of Optics, and the Dean of Engineering. He retired as Provost in 1994, and in 2009, Trustee John Bruning established the Brian J. Thompson Professorship in Optical Engineering. Today, Dr. Thompson is also a Distinguished University Professor and a Professor Emeritus of Optics. I am grateful for his legacy of commitment and service to our school.

I turn now to the very future of our field – our students. More than 100 participants teamed up last Thursday for Hajim School Design Day, when they presented the results of their partnerships over the past year with local companies and institutions. Charged with finding solutions to real-world engineering problems, they ended up revealing a true talent for innovation. For example, imagine being able to charge your cell phone simply by walking. Or consider a bicycle built to enable an amputee or someone recovering from a stroke to steer and change gears. The ideas showcased were at once practical and groundbreaking. I congratulate all faculty, students, and staff that made this possible.

Also deserving of our applause this week are Spencer Kingsbury and Sarah Walters, both of whom were elected recently to senior honor society Keidaeans. I thought the acceptance letter, signed by Dean of Students Matt Burns, put it best: “Keidaeans are seen as special friends of the University whose academic performance, leadership, and contributions of service to University life during their undergraduate years deserve special recognition.” Theirs is a fine representation of the Hajim School.

I do have one quick matter of business to cover before students leave campus for the summer. The Critical Languages Scholarship Program, sponsored by the federal government, provides once-rare opportunities for science and engineering majors to go abroad. The curriculum is concentrated, so students gain the equivalent of one year of language study over a single summer. The program offers placements in institutes for Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, and nine other languages, all of which are playing an ever-increasing role in today’s global world. Competition begins in mid-September. For more information about the CLS Program, write to cls@caorc.org or call (202) 633-5005.

Finally, it is my pleasure to announce the arrival of the newest member of our family. Chemical Engineering doctoral student Andrew Durney and his wife Lindsey welcomed son Jackson Ray on Saturday, April 28. He weighed in at 8 pounds, 5 ounces. Is it too soon to welcome Jackson to the Hajim School’s Class of 2033?


Rob L. Clark
Professor and Dean