Richard D. Wesel, a professor of electrical engineering, has been appointed as the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

“Rick brings a wonderful record of service to the School and he will thrive in this new capacity,” said Dean Vijay K. Dhir. “He is a talented researcher and teacher who has great respect from the school’s faculty, students and staff. The Office of Academic and Student Affairs will be in good hands under his leadership.”

The Office of Academic and Student Affairs has two main functions: Oversee the admission of undergraduate and graduate applicants to the School and oversee the School’s undergraduate degree programs.

“My top two priorities are to admit a diverse group of students that are of the highest quality and to ensure that those students have an excellent educational experience while at UCLA,” Wesel said. “The admissions process involves careful processing of statistical information to identify the best candidates. I think a key issue is to be able to use sophisticated statistical techniques without losing sight of the people behind the numbers. Maintaining the high quality of education provided by UCLA Engineering involves a broad range of issues, but the core is excellent teaching in the classroom.”

Recently, the School revised its undergraduate curriculum to add breadth across disciplines to its already strong core programs. Some of these additions include courses in nanotechnology, systems engineering and technical management, which are important in entrepreneurial technology businesses.

Wesel joined UCLA in 1996 after receiving his PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in electrical engineering, are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After graduating from MIT in 1989, he joined AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he worked for two years before moving to Stanford to pursue his doctorate.

Wesel’s research is in the area of communication theory with particular interest in channel coding. His current research interests focus on new techniques for broadcast and multiple access, as well as the design of powerful low-density parity-check codes and turbo codes and their associated decoding algorithms to maximize data transmission over noisy channels. Applications from his research include wireless LANs utilizing multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver; satellite communications; asynchronous digital subscriber lines; digital video broadcast; optical multiple access and many other communication systems. His research group won first place in the operational systems design category at the 2006 Design Automation Conference for its demonstration of a new technique for uncoordinated optical multiple access.

He has received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the Okawa Foundation Award. Wesel served as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Communications in the area of coding from 1999-2005. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 conference and journal publications.

In the classroom, Wesel has received excellent marks from his students and was recognized in 2000 with the School’s TRW Excellence in Teaching Award. Wesel has also served on the School’s Faculty Executive Committee and Undergraduate Council. Most recently he was Vice-Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department.

“I love being a professor here at UCLA,” he said. “I genuinely enjoy helping my students in the classroom understand new concepts and helping my PhD students as they grow through research into strong intellectual colleagues. Recently, in my work on the Undergraduate Council, the HSSEAS Faculty Executive Committee, and as Vice Chair for the Electrical Engineering Department, I have found deep satisfaction from helping the department and the School overall become more effective in what we do. I see my new role as Associate Dean as a tremendous opportunity to help UCLA Engineering become even stronger.”

Wesel and his wife Dr. Ellen Wesel have three children: Kevin, Emily and Andrew.

Wesel’s appointment was effective on July 1, 2007. He succeeds electrical engineering professor Stephen E. Jacobsen, who retired as Associate Dean after serving in the post since 1989.