Thank you for considering a gift to the ECS Dean’s Fund for Excellence (DFFE).
The DFFE allows me to seize amazing – but unplanned – opportunities that arise dynamically throughout the year. Great engineering and computer science programs constantly encounter important needs and requests from our community members, and of course, there are only so many funds available to support them all. The DFFE allows me to be agile in responding to those requests.
Two great examples come to mind. Last year, one of our ECS student organizations wanted to attend a conference that focused on diversity and inclusion in technology, with a particular emphasis on connecting students to promising careers in the field. The students banded together to minimize their travel costs, but still were not able to afford the conference fees. I was able to use DFFE funds to cover the students’ registration fees so they could attend. A few weeks later I learned that two of our students received “dream job” offers right there on the spot!
As a second example, one of our top faculty members in the field of algorithmic science devised a way to determine when farm animals were sick by using artificial intelligence to learn and anticipate their movements. Her algorithms could then raise an alarm when they deviated from their routines, indicating that the animal was under stress. This idea became the most unusual request I’ve received to date: AI-equipped tracking devices…for cows. I agreed, with trepidation, and deployed DFFE funds for this because her research showed great promise. Those funds just turned into an NSF grant worth a half million dollars.
As you can see, the Dean’s Fund for Excellence is used in many pivotal and impactful ways. We use the DFFE to support our College at the grassroots level, and to invest in the people and ideas that truly define success for ECS.
J. Cole Smith, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science