Visionary. Forward-looking. Transformative.
Dean Raman joins us from Virginia Tech (VT) where he was associate vice president for the VT National Capital Region, president and CEO of the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation, and a tenured full professor in their Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). From 2007-13, Raman was a program manager in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Microsystems Technology Office.
Raman earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1998 and joined the ECE faculty at VT. Prior to his doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, Raman served as a nuclear-trained submarine officer in the U.S. Navy from 1987-92. He is an elected fellow of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for leadership in adaptive microwave and millimeter-wave integrated circuits.
Meet the Dean: Q&A
What drew you to UMass Amherst?
I was not looking around, but when approached about this opportunity, I was intrigued by several aspects. First, UMass Amherst has an outstanding reputation for teaching and scholarship, including in my area of microwave and millimeter-wave engineering. I used Professor Emeritus David Pozar's Microwave Engineering book my first year in grad school, and have taught from it many times.
Second, UMass Amherst is a major public land-grant institution. I have spent the majority of my career at Virginia Tech, also a public land-grant institution, with the specific mission to serve the people and industries of the commonwealth. I want to help define what it means to be a 21st-century land-grant institution. UMass Amherst also has a strong tradition of advancing social justice, and social considerations must help shape the ways we advance new technologies.
Finally, I was intrigued by the expansion of the campus footprint towards the Boston metro area. My experience as part of Virginia Tech's National Capital Region campus leadership team may help us leverage the emerging Newton campus.
So what does it mean to be a dean of engineering?
To me, the role of dean of engineering is ultimately about enabling people —students, faculty, and staff— to achieve their goals and positively impact society and the engineering profession. To do this, we must develop the strategies, resources, and infrastructure to grow the next generation of engineers and innovators. It is also crucial that we continue to advance diversity and inclusivity in the engineering profession. We continue to lag other disciplines in this regard, and a key role of a dean of engineering is to lead the college to move beyond the status quo. We must be ethical and consider the social impacts of technology.
Do you have a sense of what your first priorities will be?
First, I will focus on learning every aspect of my new role and environment. A key priority is building relationships within UMass Amherst, and with alumni and partners outside of campus. We will also cultivate more robust, holistic industry partnerships, and develop resources to support the growth of the college in terms of faculty, research, and student experiences.
What do you think is the college’s most important strength?
Our faculty and staff. Nothing the college does can happen without a world-class faculty, and an outstanding support team at the college and departmental levels.
What opportunities and challenges are ahead for the College of Engineering?
There are opportunities to work on interdisciplinary research problems of significant societal impact, such as megacities, sustainable energy, clean water, security, healthcare, and understanding the human brain. We must also prepare all of our students to live and work in a highly automated future.
We will also seek to integrate experiential learning as early as possible in, and throughout, our curriculum; this includes internships and co-op opportunities with regional, national and global partners.
A key challenge for the college is constrained and aging facilities, mainly as we grow our program offerings, student numbers, and faculty. Online and distance learning strategies must also be leveraged to extend our impact globally.
Three words that you would use to describe yourself?
Engineer. Educator. Leader.
Please describe your research interests.
My research interests are generally in the area of RF/microwave/millimeter-wave integrated circuit design for applications such as radar sensing and wireless communications. In recent years, I have also been working with my students on mixed-signal integrated circuits for performing signal processing functions in the analog domain with low energy. I hope to continue to stay active in these research areas.
Tell us a fun fact about you.
So, in a previous life, I was a nuclear trained submarine officer in the US Navy. One of the coolest things that we did was an Arctic deployment, including surfacing at the North Pole. While we were there, the crew ran a "Race around the world" -- think about it.
What is your vision for UMass Amherst Engineering? How will the college look in 5–10 years?
I see UMass Amherst continuing to be the #1 public college of engineering in New England, a preeminent source of engineering workforce in the region. I see us ascending to be a top-25 public college of engineering.
We will be a "T-shaped" college and institution. Our students and faculty will continue to develop deep disciplinary expertise, but also pursue broad, cross-cutting engagements that address significant global challenges. These multidisciplinary approaches to solving complex problems will nurture our vibrant innovation ecosystem, translating faculty and student discoveries into new technologies, products, and businesses.
Our college footprint will also grow. Existing buildings and spaces will be renovated and upgraded - and we will invest in new state-of-the-art facilities for both the Amherst and Newton campus.
UMass Engineering will leverage the most advanced distance learning technologies to deliver a high-quality, flexible, accessible engineering education globally.