Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Brian Noble Named Chair of Computer Science and Engineering

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Influential educator and computer scientist Brian Noble has been selected as the new chair of the Computer Science and Engineering division of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. His appointment is effective July 1, 2017.

Noble, who has been on the U-M faculty since 1998, is an advocate for multidisciplinary and experiential learning, and a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, said Alec D. Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering.

"Brian's diverse achievements and departmental knowledge will position him well to build on the strengths and opportunities in CSE," Gallimore said.

Noble has served as associate dean for undergraduate education at the College of Engineering since 2013. Under his leadership, the College has enhanced the opportunities and overall experience available to undergraduate students, which has included the launch of an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in the rapidly-growing area of data science with the U-M College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Also under Noble's tenure, the College's Multidisciplinary Design Program – which offers hands-on opportunities for students to work on projects with others outside their fields – has expanded to 1,600 students, more than 180 projects, and 70 sponsors. Participation in the International Programs in Engineering has increased by 50 percent.

"It's an honor to serve the CSE faculty, staff and students in this role," Noble said. "This is an exciting time for the discipline, with unprecedented demand for our educational programs and researchers on campus and beyond. The CSE Division has an ambitious agenda, and I'm ready to help them achieve it."

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A Michigan Native

Noble grew up outside Jackson, Michigan but his family moved to Palo Alto when he was in high school. He didn't expect to come home, but he jokingly tells his students, "If you're a native, it's harder to reach escape velocity than you think."

As a researcher, Noble's work has been in the area of operating and storage systems, mobile and pervasive computing, and vehicle informatics. With several collaborators in 2003, Noble identified and corrected a serious flaw in the mobility model used almost universally in mobile system simulation. Also in 2010, he and his colleagues looked ahead to the transformation of the automotive user experience and piloted a system for automatically screening in-vehicle apps for user interface guideline violations, increasing efficiency for the humans who would one day be evaluating numerous apps.

In the classroom that year, Noble and Jason Flinn, professor of computer science and engineering, teamed up with Ford to offer "Cloud Computing in the Commute," a course that enabled students to prototype social networking and transportation apps on an emerging Ford system while imaging the future of of the in-car experience. The experience highlighted the uniqueness posed by in-vehicle apps, from driver distractability and unique UI requirements to the potential posed by new forms of ride-sharing, caravan tracking, and trip advising.

Noble's contributions as an educator have been recognized with a U-M Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Vulcans Education Excellence Award, the Ruth and Joel Spira Teaching Award, and the Neil Van Eenam Memorial Undergraduate Teaching Award. He has served on the USENIX board for eight years, with two of those as president; he currently serves on the CRA board as the USENIX representative.

Noble earned his PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Noble's appointment concludes a national search.


Posted: May 18, 2017