Here at the UC Santa Barbara College of Engineering (COE), we like to say that we “punch above our weight.” While there are certainly larger programs in the country, we believe that few, if any, leverage resources as well as we do at the COE to achieve outsized results while offering a more personal experience for students. Safe to say, too, that no program has a more desirable location than our campus, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
As is true for any top scholarly institution, our success arises largely from the combined efforts of our excellent students, our dedicated staff, and our exceptional faculty, which includes Nobel laureates and dozens of pioneering world leaders in their fields. The COE ranks in the top one percent of research citations worldwide (2021 World University Rankings). For the past decade, UCSB has ranked among the top two public universities in the world in terms of the scientific impact of research in engineering and the physical sciences (Leiden Ranking). From 2017-2022, eligible junior faculty have received more prestigious National Science Foundation Early CAREER Awards per capita than their peers at any other public university.
That demonstrated scholarly excellence, combined with a deeply rooted culture of interdisciplinary collaboration — perhaps this university’s single most defining aspect — lead to significant successes in both forwarding fundamental science and engineering innovative solutions to society’s most important challenges.
Those challenges are best addressed through an array of approaches taken by diverse people. We hold fast to the bedrock belief in the inherent value of all people and the certainty that the best, most comprehensive engineering solutions result from the creativity and innovation that arise from an inclusive collection of perspectives and experiences.
The COE is small enough to provide a rich experience of community, connection, belonging, and mentorship for students, contextualized within a global vision and ambitious goals. The College hosts world-renowned private/public funded research centers, including the Quantum Foundry, the Institute for Energy Efficiency, the Materials Research Laboratory, and the Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center, to name only a few, and it is deeply invested in the success of campus-wide institutes, such as the California Nanosystems Institute and the Institute for Collaborative Technologies. The newest of those, as of summer 2023, is the NSF-funded ACTION Institute, a five-year, $20-million, multi-university collaboration led by UCSB to develop artificial-intelligence-based approaches to fighting cyber-attacks.
Here in the dean’s office, we plan to continue to leverage the advantages we enjoy in terms of our size, our location, our reputation, and our emblematic collaborative approach. We have excellent relationships with industrial and academic partners both near and far, and we intend to expand those via interdisciplinary connectivity aimed at engaging in the most important challenges of our time. These include but are not limited to:
- Dramatically enhancing opportunities for students and faculty from underrepresented minorities to maximize our faculty’s creative impact and to provide the best, most-diverse trans-disciplinary educational experience a student can get.
- Minimizing waste and enhancing sustainability while forging critical pathways in the massive energy transition required to arrest climate change and secure the long-term well-being of our resource-limited planet.
- Developing security in communications and storage in an increasingly hyperconnected world.
- Embracing artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, advanced computing/communications platforms, new frontiers in bioengineering, and other disruptive technologies to serve the world's needs, while aggressively pursuing policy solutions to the ethics problems that new technologies invariably create.
- Promoting advancements in the life sciences and healthcare in a manner that reflects the unique outcomes from our integrated research and teaching.
- Expanding our efforts to take UCSB’s science and technology to market to serve the needs of humanity.
I invite you to explore and experience the UCSB College of Engineering and see why it is “The College of Engineering for Social Impact.”
Richard A. Auhll Professor and Dean, College of Engineering, UC Santa Barbara
Donald W. Whittier Professor