International Authority in Control Systems
Named New Engineering Dean at UT Dallas
University of Illinois Professor is a Leading Researcher in Robotics
May 22, 2008
Dr. Mark W. Spong, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a world leader in research on robotic control systems, will become the new dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas.
Dr. Mark W. Spong
His appointment as dean and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering will become effective Aug. 16, 2008.
At Illinois, where he has taught since 1984, Dr. Spong is the Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering, research professor in the Coordinated Science Laboratory and the director of the Center for Autonomous Engineering Systems and Robotics, which he founded in the Information Trust Institute at Illinois. His research concerns robotics and the interconnected networks of microprocessors, sensors and actuators that control dozens of processes and variables inside modern engineering systems and machines.
“Mark has had a brilliant career as a scholar and inventor in a field that he helped define and shape,” said UT Dallas President Dr. David E. Daniel. “It is that same spirit of discovery and ingenuity that he will bring to the management of the Jonsson School.”
The Jonsson Engineering School has more than 90 full-time faculty and 2,600 students. In a short period of time, the 22-year-old school has risen to become the number one graduate engineering program in North Texas and fourth-ranked in the state, according to U.S. News & World Report. The school offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, engineering management, software engineering, telecommunications engineering, and materials science and engineering.
UT Dallas Provost Dr. Hobson Wildenthal thanked the University’s search committee, led by Vice President for Research Bruce Gnade, for its successful efforts. Wildenthal said the committee was looking for an extraordinary person who could lead the school at an important time in its development and was able to select from an exceptionally strong group of applicants.
Dr. Spong is succeeding Dr. Robert Helms as dean of the Jonsson School. During his five years as dean, Dr. Helms has make many important contributions to the school’s advancement, including negotiating a $300 million private-public effort to expand and enhance the Jonsson School involving UT Dallas, the State of Texas and the private sector, initiated by Texas Instruments. One element of that effort was the construction of the four-story, 192,000-square-foot Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Laboratory in 2007. Other key elements were the hiring of new faculty researchers and the creation of new academic and research programs. The Jonsson School has more than doubled its research funding since 2004, with nearly $28 million in research projects currently under way.
“The Jonsson School is crucially important in UT Dallas’ progress towards becoming a major national force in education and research,” said Wildenthal. “I am confident that Dr. Spong, with his internationally recognized research program and his administrative experience in a top-five engineering school, will provide the faculty of the Jonsson School with the leadership to continue its impressive progress.”
Dr. Spong has served his professional field in several national leadership positions. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, former president of the IEEE Control Systems Society (2005), editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology (1997-2000), vice president for its publications activities (2000-02) and a former member of the IEEE Control Systems Society Board of Governors (1994-2002).
Among his many awards, he holds the IROS Fumio Harashima Award for Innovative Technologies, the Senior Scientist Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the IEEE Third Millennium Medal, The IEEE Distinguished Member Award, the O. Hugo Schuck Award and the John R. Ragazzini Award from the American Automatic Control Council.
He has published more than 200 technical articles in control systems and robotics and is the co-author of four books, Robot Dynamics and Control (1989), Robot Control: Dynamics, Motion Planning, and Analysis (1992) Robot Modeling and Control (2005) and The Reaction Wheel Pendulum (2007).
Dr. Spong received his B.A. magna cum laude Phi Beta Kappa in mathematics and physics from Hiram College, his M.S. in mathematics from New Mexico State University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in systems science and mathematics from Washington University. He began his academic career at Lehigh University and from 1982 to 1984 taught at Cornell University.
He has been a visiting professor at many universities and research institutes, including the National Polytechnic Institute of Mexico, the University of Waterloo in Ontario, the Laboratoire d’Automatique de Grenoble in France, the Lund Institute of Technology in Sweden, the Katholieke Universiteit in Belgium, the Universite d’Technologie de Compiegne in France, the National University of Singapore and the Technical University of Munich in Germany.
“I am extremely honored and pleased to be selected as the next dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science,” said Dr. Spong. “The outstanding quality of the faculty and students, the rapid progress made under Dean Helms, and the ambitious plans that UT Dallas has for the future of the Jonsson School make this one of the most exciting opportunities in the country. I want to thank Bruce Gnade and the search committee for their confidence in me for this position and I look forward to working with the faculty and administration to further develop the Jonsson School into one of the premier engineering schools in the country.”
Since 1996, he has been president of his own company, Mechatronic Systems, Inc., which supplies tool kits and college-level curricula of control systems to educators.