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Joint appointments strengthen cooperative ties between engineering departments

By Liz Crumbley

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 27 - April 10, 1997

The departments of Electrical Engineering (EE) and Materials Science And Engineering (MSE) have approved joint appointments for three faculty members, Richard Claus, Seshu Desu, and G.Q. Lu. All three teach and conduct research in areas important to both engineering disciplines.

"Significant opportunities exist for collaboration between EE and MSE in the areas of electronic materials, fiber optics, and computers," said College of Engineering Dean F. William Stephenson. "These joint appointments help lower boundaries between departments and simplify the pursuit of interdisciplinary activities."

Claus, a professor and eminent scholar of EE and founding director of the university's Fiber & Electro-Optics Research Center, specializes in the design and use of optical systems for the characterization of materials; the development of optical fibers and optical and electronic-sensor instrumentation systems, and the development of other "smart" materials and structures.

Desu, a professor of MSE and director of the Center for Advanced Ceramics Materials, works in the processing, modeling, and characterization of multi-component oxide thin films, fibers, and fine powders and their applications in electronic and optical devices.

Lu, an assistant professor of MSE, specializes in the processing and characterization of electronic materials for packaging applications, co-sintering of metal/ceramic multi-layer substrates, stresses in constrained sintering materials, crystal growth of semiconductor, and optical measurements.

Ronald S. Gordon, MSE department head, said the joint faculty members will have full rights and responsibilities in both departments. Claus, Desu and Lu will develop courses to be taken jointly by EE and MSE students. Interdisciplinary cooperation in research and outreach also is expected to result from the joint appointments. "We want our departments to grow cooperatively rather than competitively," Gordon noted. "We need faculty working on both sides of the aisle."

Leonard A. Ferrari, EE department head, said the collaboration between the two departments "will enable Virginia Tech to be more responsive to the educational needs of students and of companies such as Motorola, IBM, Toshiba, and Siemens, which are leading the rapid expansion of Virginia's microelectronics industry."

The joint appointments also will be the underpinning for EE/MSE cooperative efforts in working with the Virginia Microelectronics Consortium (VMEC), a research-and-education program developed by Virginia Tech, the College of William and Mary, George Mason University, Old Dominion University, University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University, Motorola, Dominion Semiconductor and White Oak.

Future joint appointments between EE and MSE are anticipated, Gordon added, particularly as they relate to the growing VMEC initiative in the state.