New Engineering Faculty Fill Three Endowed Chairs

Hires Boost Efforts Toward Becoming Leading National Research University

Three leading experts in the mechanics and materials of high-tech engineering are joining the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas, further expanding the University’s position as a leading nanotechnology research center.

Each of the new faculty members will be the inaugural holder of an endowed chair. Two have been funded by Texas Instruments and one by Louis Beecherl Jr.

“These three new faculty members will play significant roles in expanding our research capacity and our PhD programs,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “They are top researchers and exceptional teachers who could join the faculty of virtually any school they chose. Their decisions to come to UT Dallas provide a major boost and further validate our work toward become a leading national research university. We are very grateful to our donors for supporting our initiatives.”

The three new faculty members are:


FischettiDr. Massimo Fischetti: Currently a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Fischetti will hold a Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Nanoelectronics. He earned a PhD in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1978, and his research involves the theory of electronic transport in semiconductors and the limits of semiconductor scaling.

hsuDr. Julia W.P. Hsu: Currently a principal member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories and a scientist in Sandia’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, Hsu also will hold a Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair in Nanoelectronics. She earned a PhD in physics from Stanford University in 1991, and her research focuses on advancing organic solar cells by studying organic-inorganic interactions and studying electrical network formation in polymer nanocomposites used as adaptive materials.

luDr. Hongbing Lu: Lu spent more than 10 years on the faculty of Oklahoma State University. Holder of the Jonsson School’s Louis Beecherl Jr. Chair, which was established last fall, he received his PhD in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1997. His research interests include nano-indentation, visco-elasticity, experimental mechanics and the mechanics of nanostructured materials.

“By investing TI’s dollars and leveraging additional state and University funds, we’ve helped recruit outstanding professors who will attract additional research funding and further efforts by UT Dallas to become a Tier One research university,” said Dr. Robert Doering, a Texas Instruments senior fellow.

“Their presence will bring other top researchers and will ultimately spark advances enabled by nanoelectronics,” he added. “Just as the integrated circuit revolutionized the size and performance of electronic devices and led the way to personal computers, cell phones and today’s other ubiquitous technologies, nanoelectronics research gives us hope for a future where technology revolutions will impact the world in ways that we can only begin to imagine.”

All three new faculty are highly productive researchers. Lu alone has received more than 35 contracts and grants totaling nearly $10 million in the past decade. His most recent work includes a National Science Foundation-funded project to improve upon the kind of insulation material used to protect the delicate electronics of NASA’s rovers on Mars.

Fischetti, meantime, spent more than 20 years at IBM’s acclaimed T.J. Watson Research Center before joining UMass Amherst five years ago. And in addition to Hsu’s recent work at Sandia National Labs on next-generation solar energy technology, she was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories for four years and spent six years on the faculty of the University of Virginia prior to that.

“These three new faculty collectively bring more than 20 years of teaching experience to UT Dallas,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering. “Top researchers always bring the excitement of their research into the classroom, and these faculty will not only contribute to our objectives as an emerging research university but also help attract the best and brightest students into the engineering profession.”

The two TI-funded chairs spring from the Texas Nanotechnology Research Superiority Initiative (TNRSI), a proposal to the Texas Emerging Technology Fund in 2006 led by TI and UT Dallas. TI committed $5 million to that effort, creating four endowed chairs – three at UT Dallas and one at UT Arlington – and the company subsequently also endowed a chair at UT Dallas as part of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence, known as TxACE.

TNRSI was instrumental in attracting the $30 million Semiconductor Research Corp. South West Academy of Nanoelectronics (SWAN) to Texas. Based at the Microelectronics Research Center at UT Austin, SWAN is a private-public collaboration designed to advance nanoelectronics education, research, commercialization and manufacturing. It also helps coordinate collaborative activities among Texas nanotechnology researchers.

“This has been a key opportunity for us to become a leader in nanoelectronics,” said Dr. Bruce Gnade, UT Dallas vice president for research. “TNRSI and SWAN have given us the ability to attract extraordinarily qualified people, and now we can stake claim to being one of the top nanoelectronics research universities in the United States.”

Hsu and Fischetti, he added, are particularly apt choices as new faculty. Not only does their work complement research already being done in the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering but they complement one another as well: Fischetti works at a theoretical level, and Hsu fabricates new semiconductor devices.

“And TI was instrumental in making this happen,” Gnade added.