The University of Missouri’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department has a new permanent chair.
Syed Kamrul Islam took over as head of EECS effective July 1. Islam previously served as a professor, James W. McConnell Endowed Chair and associate head for Academic Affairs of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Islam earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 1983, then earned both his master’s and doctorate from the University of Connecticut in 1987 and 1994, respectively. He began his postdoctoral career in academia at the University of North Florida in 1994 before joining the University of Tennessee in 1999.
Islam touted his experience in upper leadership in an EECS department at a similarly-structured university as one of his biggest strengths. Tennessee’s EECS department merged in 2007, and Islam said he’s looking forward to helping shepherd Mizzou’s through a similar transition. MU combined Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science in 2017.
“I have been involved in senior leadership over that time, and I have served as associate head for the last six years for our combined department,” he explained. “I’m very familiar with the EE, CE and CS curricula. This will be an opportunity for me to look into the curriculum and make some contributions and also gain experience from a diverse group of people. Here, it’s very similar in terms of construction of the department.”
Academically, Islam said he likes what MU has to offer in terms of cutting-edge coursework and instruction. His goal as chair, he explained, is to keep a watchful eye to ensure the curriculum stays ahead of the game.
“You always want to revisit and make sure you’re up to date with current technologies,” he said. “Right now, I think we’re in pretty good shape, but we need to pay attention to maintain it.”
Islam’s research focuses mainly on low-power CMOS integrated circuit design for biomedical applications. The realm of implantable medical devices is currently where he’s applying his research efforts. MU is one of the rare institutions to house both a College of Engineering and School of Medicine on the same campus, and that fact as well as the College’s focus on biomedical innovations proved alluring to Islam.
“I’m excited about the opportunity, and I like the overall quality and direction of the College. As far as my own research is concerned, I’m excited to go to a campus with a medical school on campus,” he said. “My research focuses on biomedical electronics, and it will benefit with potential collaboration with the med school.”
In terms of the department, one of Islam’s first goals will be to organize EECS into cohesive research groups in order to apply for large funding opportunities and increase the department’s research expenditures.
“Whatever ingredients we have right now, I’d like to rearrange so we can actually form a cohesive group of researchers within this department,” Islam explained. “Most funding nowadays is group funding, so we have to form the right kinds of teams to go after different types of funding, even center-type initiatives.”