By Bill Kisliuk
UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Vijay K. Dhir announced today that he will step down as dean on June 30, 2015, after leading the school for more than 13 years. Dhir will continue to serve as a distinguished professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.
Dhir has worked to place UCLA Engineering at the forefront of interdisciplinary engineering education and research, inspiring students to be engineering innovators and leaders after they leave the university.
During his tenure to date, UCLA Engineering has seen its rankings rise, increased enrollment and recruited 70 new faculty. The school has embarked on three major facilities upgrades, established the Institute for Technology Advancement to incubate new technologies, established an online master’s program, generated more than $200 million in philanthropic support and helped establish 10 externally funded centers spurring research and development in emerging technologies.
“It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as dean of the school,” Dhir said. “We have accomplished much in the last 11 years, and I look forward to achieving many more important objectives before June of 2015.”
Dhir joined the UCLA faculty in 1974. He served as chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department from 1994 to 2000, and in 2001 became UCLA Engineering’s associate dean for academic and faculty affairs. He served as interim dean from February 2002 until March 2003, when he was named dean.
“I want to thank Vijay for his outstanding leadership of the School of Engineering and Applied Science and for his tireless work to enhance the school’s stature and establish it as a hub for interdisciplinary research, education and service,” said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott L. Waugh. “Chancellor Block and I are confident that Vijay will continue to be a tremendous asset to the school and to UCLA during the next two years, and we look forward to his ongoing contributions when he returns to the faculty and continues his scholarly work in the years to follow.”
Since 2002, external funding for UCLA Engineering has increased from $54.9 million to $105.8 million.
The school has attracted outstanding scholars from around the world to serve as faculty, and now has more than 26 affiliated faculty who are National Academy of Engineering members and 54 who have won National Science Foundation CAREER Awards.
Undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships have increased multifold under the school’s Enhancing Engineering Excellence Initiative, with UCLA Engineering now offering more than 130 scholarships and fellowships to deserving students of limited means.
In 2007 the school completed the 105,000-square-foot Engineering V, a new laboratory and teaching facility. Construction of Engineering VI, the school’s 150,000-square-foot anchor for innovation, is now underway. Renovation of Boelter Hall is on-going through funding from the National Science Foundation, the school and the university.
UCLA Engineering also has instituted a three-course technical breadth program requiring undergraduates to take classes outside of their discipline in order to be better prepared to take on engineering and societal challenges.
In addition to his duties as dean, Dhir leads the Boiling Heat Transfer Lab. During nearly 40 years at UCLA, he has published more than 300 papers and has advised more than 40 doctoral students and 50 master’s students. Dhir was the principal investigator on a boiling heat transfer experiment that NASA placed on the International Space Station in 2011.
He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Nuclear Society and serves on several National Research Council committees. His numerous honors include ASME’s Heat Transfer Memorial Award, Max Jakob Memorial Award and 75th Anniversary Medal; the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Donald Q. Kern award; and the Technical Achievement Award from the American Nuclear Society’s thermal hydraulics division. In 2006, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
“It is my good fortune to work with the outstanding students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of UCLA Engineering,” Dhir said. “As always, our goals are to provide the finest education to our engineering students and to prepare them to meet the challenges ahead, to serve the engineering community with honor and distinction, and to conduct cutting-edge research that serves society and the nation.”
Waugh stated that in the spring of 2014, UCLA will form a search committee to identify candidates for a new dean at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.
(Update: After this article was published, the date of Vijay K. Dhir’s departure from the dean’s office changed to Dec. 31, 2015.)