Wendi Heinzelman named dean of the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences

June 1, 2016

Peter Lennie, provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences & Engineering, announced her appointment, which followed a nationwide search by a faculty committee led by Richard Waugh, professor of biomedical engineering.

“The search committee produced a short list of remarkably strong candidates, among whom Wendi stood out,” said Lennie. “As a researcher of international distinction, as an award-winning teacher, and as a proven administrator with an extraordinary talent for leading people to achieve their very best, Wendi is ideally equipped to take the Hajim School to new heights, building on the work of current Dean Rob Clark, who will succeed me as University Provost on July 1.”

“Wendi Heinzelman is an outstanding choice for dean of the Hajim School of Engineering & Applied Sciences,” said University President and CEO Joel Seligman. “She is a talented and driven leader who has demonstrated her aptitude for strong academic leadership by cultivating top-notch and innovative graduate programs for the University, as well as through her mobile computing and networking research and the key partnerships and collaborations she has created through it. I am delighted with her appointment as the next Hajim School dean.”

In 2008, Heinzelman was named dean of graduate studies in AS&E, 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 tenure in this role, she has worked with the AS&E faculty to develop innovative specialized and interdisciplinary graduate programs, such as a master’s degree in alternative energy, a program in photographic preservation and collection management with the George Eastman Museum, and a graduate degree program in technical entrepreneurship and management, for those with tech backgrounds who are seeking more entrepreneurial experience.  She has worked closely with the Goergen Institute for Data Science to develop the first master’s degree in data science, which provides training in techniques for analysis of large data sets.  Much of the University’s growth in graduate education has been in these newer, more specialized programs.

Heinzelman has also established a number of professional development programs to help students build skills outside of research, including skills related to teaching and learning, writing, communication, and conflict management.  Additionally, she has provided a major focus on recruiting and retaining under-represented minority graduate students, resulting in an increase in applications from this group of 200 percent and an increase in enrollments of 73 percent over the past five years.  A number of policy changes were enacted under Heinzelman’s leadership, including the first family-friendly policy for graduate students to ensure that Rochester is a welcoming place for graduate study.

“I believe that engineering has relevance to the arts, medicine, social sciences, natural sciences, business and education, and that these disciplines have relevance to engineering.”
— Wendi Heinzelman

“I am excited to work with the exceptional faculty, students and staff of the Hajim School to continue and accelerate the momentum created under Rob Clark’s leadership,” said Heinzelman.  “Engineering is key to solving some of our most difficult societal problems and to developing innovations that will transform society in the years to come.  Our faculty and students are engaged in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that has and will continue to have lasting impacts, and I look forward to working with them to advance this work.  I believe that engineering has relevance to the arts, medicine, social sciences, natural sciences, business and education, and that these disciplines have relevance to engineering; hence, as dean, one of my goals will be to help find these connections and foster collaborations that will lead to innovative research and educational initiatives. I hope to lead the Hajim School to increased prominence in research and education, to develop interdisciplinary collaborations across the University of Rochester and beyond, and to cultivate in our current and future students the passion to change the world.”

Heinzelman has held the graduate studies deanship in tandem with being a Hajim School faculty member. She joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2001 as assistant professor, and became full professor in 2012.  She also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Computer Science. Her research focuses on wireless communication, networking, mobile computing, and multimedia communication. Specifically, it centers on transforming users’ experiences with mobile ad hoc and wireless sensor networks through design of advanced protocols and architectures that provide reliability for a range of applications. Much of this work is done in collaboration with experts across the University, at higher education institutions around the world, and in industry and the military. Her research has far-reaching applications, from providing real-time communications tools for soldiers in the field, to enabling conservation through the observation of remote rivers, to developing mobile applications that support personalized health monitoring and to learning about family dynamics and healthy interpersonal communication.

She has taught classes on digital signal processing and wireless communications. In 2003, she received the University’s G. Graydon Curtis and Jane W. Curtis Award for Teaching Excellence, and in 2005 she was the recipient of the prestigious NSF CAREER award—a five-year grant awarded to scholars early in their teaching careers who have an innovative plan for their educational and outreach vision—as well as the ONR Young Investigator Award, provided to researchers who show exceptional promise for doing creative research.

Heinzelman is dedicated to encouraging more women to study and choose careers in engineering and computer science. As a result, 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. Today, the organization includes more than 900 members worldwide and hosts career- and research-focused meetings and panels at major conferences, professional development workshops and mentoring opportunities.

She is an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) fellow and an ACM (Association of Computing Machinery) distinguished scientist.  She has been the information director and associate editor for the ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks, associate editor and steering committee member of IEEE’s Transactions on Mobile Computing, associate editor of Elseiver Ad Hoc Networks, and area editor for ACM Mobile Computing and Communications Review.

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.

“Wendi is one of the most innovative educators I know,” said current Hajim School Dean Rob Clark. “The Hajim School is in great hands with her at the helm. She is a skilled leader and collaborator who understands the opportunities for engineering programs at local, national and global levels. She will accelerate the momentum of the Hajim School and the University of Rochester in the true spirit of Meliora.”

The Hajim School today 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 School’s enrollment has grown from an undergraduate student body of 747 in 2008, when Clark became dean, to 1,750 in 2015. The school has 88 tenured and tenure-track faculty members, 17 additional full-time faculty, 310 master’s students, 320 doctoral students, and more than 20,000 alumni. Five faculty are members of the National Academy of Engineering and five are members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Of the tenure-track faculty, there are 45 full, 22 associate and 21 assistant professors.