William Kaiser, an electrical engineering professor at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has received the 2007 Gold Shield Faculty Prize from the UCLA Gold Shield Alumnae.

By Matthew Chin

The annual prize is awarded to a full professor with extraordinary promise and accomplishment in research or creative activity, and an outstanding record in teaching, especially of undergraduates. Equal weight is given to each.

Kaiser’s research has concentrated on the development of distributed networked, embedded computing for linking the Internet to the physical world. The applications for this technology that his group has pursued include distributed sensor systems for environmental monitoring with applications to water resources as well as forest ecosystems. His research also includes sensor network systems for biomedical applications, security, and defense.

The broad applications of Kaiser’s research across several different fields played a significant role in his selection, said Joan Maxwell, chair of the prize’s selection committee. But his efforts to improve the educational experience for undergraduates also stood out.

“Individualized, Interactive Instruction” or “3i” is a new online tool that employs networked computing to create a student-centered learning method. The online tool has been developed over several years in collaboration with undergraduate and graduate students of Kaiser’s group and Dr. Gregory Chung, of the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. It provides a private and anonymous feedback link between individual students in a lecture or discussion session and their instructor. For the instructor, 3i directly displays each student’s progress on specific problem-solving tasks, which helps reveal understanding of instructional topics.

“The 3i program he created to provide support for undergraduates in the gateway courses was viewed as very positive,” Maxwell said.

The Gold Shield Faculty Prize was first awarded in 1986 and was given out once every two years. Starting in 2006, the prize has been given out annually, alternating between North and South Campus. Preference is given to candidates who are in the middle years of their academic careers.

The 2007 prize was announced at the June meeting of the Academic Senate. This is the first time that a faculty member from UCLA Engineering has won the award.

The award carries a $30,000 cash prize. Kaiser plans to use the prize to fund stipends for his undergraduate research group.