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Professor William J. Kaiser receives the 2007 UCLA Gold Shield Prize

June 2007

UCLA Electrical Engineering Professor William J. Kaiser has been awarded the 2007 UCLA Gold Shield Faculty Prize. The annual prize is awarded to a full professor with extraordinary promise and accomplishment in research or creative activity, and an outstanding record in teaching, especially of undergraduates. Equal weight is given to each. The award carries a $30K cash prize. Kaiser plans to use the prize to fund stipends for his undergraduate research group.

Professor Kaiser joined UCLA Electrical Engineering in 1994 after work at Ford Motor Company Research and later at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). At Ford, his research focused on the development of automotive emission control sensors and embedded control systems. These are devices now in use in vehicles today. At JPL, he developed microinstrument technologies that have appeared in both past missions and will appear in the next planned Mars mission. He was a member of the team that developed the first Mars Rover and led seismic sensor development for this program.

Professor Kaiser's research is focused on sensor networking and embedded computing systems for linking the Internet to the physical world. The applications for this technology that his group has pursued include distributed sensor systems for environmental monitoring with applications to water resources as well as forest ecosystems. His research also includes sensor network systems for biomedical applications, security, and defense.

Professor Kaiser's research is quite broad, but his success has been most notable in the development of the field of modern wireless sensor networks including his recent development of NIMS (Networked Infomechanical Systems). NIMS was a primary feature of a recent New York Times article and in two television programs.

Encouraging undergraduates with research opportunities has always been important in his career where he has created large summer undergraduate research programs and engineering design courses. He also developed the 3i program, Individualized Interactive Instruction, a student-centered learning method. Using this new networked tool, students can respond to questions and provide answers in an anonymous, private way, and the professor can then shape his lectures using the direct knowledge of the students' level of understanding and their problem-solving abilities. The online tool has been developed over several years in collaboration with undergraduate and graduate students of Kaiser’s group and Dr. Gregory Chung, of the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. It provides a private and anonymous feedback link between individual students in a lecture or discussion session and their instructor. For the instructor, 3i directly displays each student’s progress on specific problem-solving tasks, which helps reveal understanding of instructional topics.

Among his many honors, he is the recipient of the 2005 UCLA Brian Copenhaver Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology and was selected as the UCLA Engineering Professor of the Year in 2004 by the students of the Engineering Society of the University of California.

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