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MUII director appointed ECE chairman

Chi-Ren Shyu standing with his arms crossed in front of a wall of framed awards.

Professor Chi-Ren Shyu stands in front of his wall of awards. His tenure as chairman of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department starts June 1.

After 14 years with the University of Missouri and countless accomplishments, Chi-Ren Shyu is ready for his next challenge.

Shyu became chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department on June 1, taking over for former interim chair Scott Kovaleski.

The new head of the department, who holds his doctoral degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering  from Purdue University, joined MU in 2000 and has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments since. Shyu is the Paul K. and Dianne Shumaker Endowed Professor and a former member of MU’s Computer Science Department. He’s received several awards in his time at Missouri, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Engineering Faculty Research Award, Engineering Teaching Excellence Award, seven computer science teaching awards and the 2014 MU Faculty Entrepreneurial Award.

Shyu also is the inaugural director of the University of Missouri Informatics Institute (MUII), which is a campus-wide interdisciplinary doctoral degree program founded in 2008. The program hosts 43 core faculty members from 15 departments and eight colleges and schools. That experience, Shyu said, laid a solid foundation to prepare him for the challenges of being chair. He added that a plan is in place for him to continue as MUII director for a year to ease the transition to a new director.

“We have a very successful track record of building [MUII] from scratch,” he said. “Learning from this type of experience really gives me unique opportunities to work with faculty, students and also units from the campus and outside.”

Shyu said he enjoyed his time working in the Computer Science Department and will continue collaborations in curriculum development between two departments, and said he’s honored to take over as chair of ECE, particularly because of its history as one of the nation’s oldest electrical engineering programs — cited by some as the nation’s first such program — and its track record of student and faculty achievement.

“The faculty are very productive, and students are really, really outstanding,” Shyu added.

Continuing to foster student and faculty achievement is high on Shyu’s list of goals as chair. To do that, he plans to facilitate the continued recruitment of top-level high school and graduate students from Missouri and beyond and hopefully increase undergraduate research. In terms of faculty, Shyu hopes to encourage faculty to push for NSF, NIH and other federal and industrial funding. He also wants to ensure the department lives up to the university’s lofty standing as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).

“Many places could be a little bit better, and many places we can amplify whatever we have now that is doing really well,” he said. “We set ourselves a goal for the next three years, next five years, on how we’re going to move ourselves to the AAU level for the department.”