Dear Colleagues, Students, Alumni, and Friends of the Department,

As we approach the close of yet another eventful year, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey we’ve undertaken together as a community in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. It is with immense pride and gratitude that I share this year-end message, celebrating our collective achievements and looking ahead to the exciting possibilities that lie before us. 

Throughout the past year, our department community of students, staff and faculty has demonstrated resilience, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Space remains the “final frontier”: the continued growth in research activities and enrollment, the start of creating new and more suitably programmed buildings and space for engineering on the University level, and a series of natural disasters and floods in our building have led to increasing difficulty in accommodating class schedules and fully supporting training, research, and engineering productivity. In the face of these conditions, it was heartwarming to see how all of you came together to help: from late night “all hands on deck” sessions to rescue lab equipment from flooded spaces to sharing compacted lab and training spaces to the willingness to be flexible and creative in where and how to teach to going above and beyond in accommodating student needs: you, our community, have shown what we can accomplish when we work together. I am very grateful for that and proud of this sense of community. And the great news is, there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel: preparations for a new building in engineering have begun that will create important and well-programmed new space. We are starting informal discussions about the next buildings and infrastructure measures that are needed to support the unprecedented growth in our state. 

I am convinced that Utah, both our state and our university, has reached an inflection point that will see us soar to new heights, following in the footsteps and potentially eclipsing the trajectories that the Seattle and Silicon Valley High Tech areas have seen in the past decades. 

Our faculty members have engaged in groundbreaking research, pushing the boundaries of knowledge in their respective fields with efforts in: semiconductors; signals and telecommunication; medical devices and rehabilitation; power and infrastructure resilience, including support for underserved communities; and so many more areas. Their dedication to advancing the frontiers of electrical and computer engineering in not only exploration and research and development, but also in training and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers, will become the bedrock for our future. All these efforts are for the benefit of society and have not only enriched our academic community but also contributed to the broader scientific and technological landscape.

Our University of Utah Asia Campus faculty have been stellar ambassadors to our department and program, contributing the same level of commitment and care that we are known for here in our home department on the Salt Lake City Campus. In consequence: it has become the fastest growing program on the UAC campus, pulling students even from other programs at competing schools.

Everything we do starts and ends with our students: this is why we are here! Our students have continued to inspire us with their passion, creativity, and determination. From innovative capstone projects to outstanding academic accomplishments, you have proven that the future of electrical and computer engineering is in capable hands. Your enthusiasm and commitment to learning have not only shaped the classroom experience but have also positioned you as the next generation of leaders in the ever-evolving landscape of technology.

As we bid farewell to the challenges and triumphs of the past year, let us also look forward to the opportunities that await us in the coming months. The field of electrical and computer engineering is dynamic and fast-paced, presenting us with a myriad of possibilities for collaboration, exploration, and growth. Together, we can continue to cultivate an environment that nurtures creativity, fosters innovation, and prepares our students to excel in the face of future challenges.

We have much to celebrate and to be thankful for. I want to express my deep gratitude for the generous donations from Jerry and Barbara Stringfellow, as well as Roger P. Webb, for providing the funds for the first-ever endowed Professorships in the department.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I extend my deepest gratitude to every one of you—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—for your unwavering support and commitment to the success of our department. Your contributions, both big and small, are the foundation upon which our achievements are built.

As we embark on a well-deserved break, I encourage you to take this time to rest, rejuvenate, and spend quality moments with your loved ones. Let us return in the new year with renewed energy and a shared determination to make 2024 a year of even greater accomplishments.

Wishing you all a joyous holiday season and a happy New Year!

Warm regards,

Florian Solzbacher

Department Chair, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

The University of Utah