Campus professor named dean of UC San Diego engineering school

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Albert Pisano, a professor of mechanical engineering for 30 years at UC Berkeley, will become the dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering on Sept. 1.

According to an announcement by the Jacobs School on Monday, Pisano will succeed Frieder Seible, a professor of mechanical engineering at UC San Diego, who served as dean for 10 years before retiring in April.

“Personally, I see San Diego as a very good fit, and it’s very exciting to be offered a dean position,” Pisano said. “I’ve been very happy with my years at Berkeley, but I’ve been offered this opportunity, and this is a big thing that I’ve got to do.”

As dean, Pisano will oversee faculty appointments for all engineering departments and implement policies aiming to promote high academic standards for UC San Diego’s teaching and research.

S. Shankar Sastry, dean of the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley and a longtime colleague of Pisano, says that Pisano’s commitment to education will be invaluable to UC San Diego.

“To be a dean requires academic credentials, personal substance and a very distinguished record of research,” Sastry said. “His years of experience in academic management make him a perfect candidate to oversee the school.”

During his time at UC Berkeley, Pisano served as the chair of the campus department of mechanical engineering, director of the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center, director of the Electronics Research Laboratory and acting dean of the College of Engineering. Outside of the UC Berkeley campus, Pisano served a two-year federal appointment as a project manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“It’s a great win for San Diego and a great loss for UC Berkeley,” said mechanical engineering professor Tarek Zohdi, a longtime friend of Pisano.

Pisano’s research, including his work on miniaturized sensors for harsh environments, involves applicable uses for microelectromechanical systems. As dean, he hopes to make changes to UC San Diego’s engineering curriculum that will give students a greater appreciation for their prerequisite classes.

Neel Rane, a UC Berkeley junior who took Pisano’s advanced prototyping class, said Pisano was an enthusiastic professor and always made class enjoyable. Through Pisano’s contacts, Rane’s class got the rare opportunity to work with Motorola Mobility in a rapid prototyping contest.

“During the prototyping process, Pisano would help us test our prototypes and give us input,”  Rane said. “This way, class didn’t just involve sitting around listening to him give a lecture.”

Pisano will continue to teach and research as dean, though on a much smaller scale.

“I love Berkeley and will always consider myself a Berkeleyan, but San Diego has given me an opportunity that I cannot ignore,” Pisano said. “San Diego engineering’s vision for its research to further the public good is a perfect fit for me and my work.”

Contact Dennis Vidal at [email protected].