Mark Bocko: An ideal mentor for young engineers

bockoAwards are nothing new for the Hajim School's Lifetime Achievement honoree for 2015. He’s already received from our university:

  • The Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, 1991 and 2002
  • The Professor of the Year Award from the Student Senate, 2002
  • The Meritorious Service Award in PhD Education, 2007
  • The Goergen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2012

During his 30 years at the University of Rochester, Mark Bocko, Distinguished Professor and Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been the ideal mentor for creative young engineers like David Heid, a recent master’s graduate who founded an innovative laptop orchestra. David described Bocko as a teacher who is, “always willing to discuss ideas on how to incorporate music and technology. Whenever I hit a road block, he would sit down with me and help me solve problems ‘the engineering way,’ by helping me identify the individual parts of the task.”

Bocko loves music.  He plays bassoon and string bass. He is an affiliated professor of music at the Eastman School. And the Hajim School has benefited immensely as a result.

The new Audio and Music Engineering program that Bocko spearheaded is one of the fastest growing majors in our school, teaching students how to prepare soundtracks, for example, and how to come up with innovative ways of searching for music and retrieving it, so they can be become creative pioneers in the emerging fields of audio and acoustic technology and the sonic arts. 

Bocko’s research in sensors and transducers, low-noise electronics, quantum coherent electronics and quantum noise, and other domains has resulted in more than 100 technical papers and more than a dozen patents.

He is founder and CEO of ADVIS, a high-tech startup that provides integrated sensors for imaging and dynamic signal measurements.

In 2010, he and Paul Ballentine took the helm at our state-funded Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences, which stimulates high tech business growth by supporting research collaboration between university researchers and area businesses.

Both played an important role in securing three federal manufacturing awards upon which our successful AIM Photonics proposal was based. AIM Photonics will bring $94 million to the University over the next five years as part of a national consortium to bolster our nation’s ability to produce next generation integrated photonics.

Bocko is also technical director of the Center for Future Health, which is coming up with exciting devices that will allow us to better monitor our own health. Two years ago, the University joined Coursera and started offering massive open online courses, or MOOCs, for the first time. Bocko paired up with Rob Clark, the Hajim School dean, to offer a course on Fundamentals of Audio and Music Engineering.

"I thoroughly enjoyed working with Mark on that project, just as I have enjoyed getting to know Mark as a friend and as a candid advisor -- especially on those occasions when we don’t see eye to eye," Clark said in presenting Bocko with the award. "I read somewhere that Mark’s first love is music. But based on what I’ve seen, I suspect that his love for music has been equaled, if not surpassed, by his love for this University. Mark began his career at the UR, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he completes it here, doing what he does best, making our University ever better."