William H. Sanders is the Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker Dean of the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and a professor of electrical and computer engineering. He is a leader in engineering research and academia, a well-respected collaborator in higher education who builds strategic public-private partnerships.
Sanders previously served as the Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the interim director of the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) in the University of Illinois System where he led the joint education, research, and innovation institute in its efforts to drive technology-based economic growth. Backed by a $500 million appropriation from the state and more than $400 million in private funding, DPI spans three universities and includes eight other academic partners.
Sanders has spent the past 25 years of his career as a tenured professor at Illinois in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science. His research interests include secure and dependable computing and security, as well as resiliency metrics and evaluation, with a focus on critical infrastructures. He has published more than 270 technical papers in those areas. Sanders has also directed work at the forefront of national efforts to make the U.S. power grid smart and resilient.
Beyond his significant scholarly record, he was the founding director of the University of Illinois’ Information Trust Institute in 2004, growing its faculty to more than 100 and attracting $80 million in external research funding by 2011. Sanders then served as director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory from 2010-2014 and was head of the university’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 2014-2018. He also co-founded the Advanced Digital Sciences Center in Singapore in 2009, which is Illinois’ first international research facility.
Sanders earned his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering; master’s degree in computer, information, and control engineering; and doctoral degree in computer science and engineering, all from the University of Michigan. He is an elected fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Association for Computing Machinery; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
His awards include the 2016 IEEE Technical Field Award, Innovation in Societal Infrastructure, for “assessment-driven design of trustworthy cyber infrastructures for societal-scale systems.” Sanders is also an entrepreneur and the co-founder of Network Perception Inc.
- Interim Director, Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), University of Illinois System, 2018-2020.
Founding director for DPI, which is a joint education, research, and innovation institute led by the University of Illinois System (U of I System) and its three universities, and is backed by a $500M appropriation from the State of Illinois. DPI’s mission is to establish collaborative partnerships that address 21st century societal grand challenges, promote entrepreneurship, and educate the next-generation workforce. Its primary goal is to conduct purpose-driven research and education that create actionable results that will have tangible results throughout the economy, including those for the underserved. As DPI’s first full-time director, I have moved the institute from vision to reality while engaging a diverse set of stakeholders. During the 8 months that I have served as interim director, I have 1) built strong faculty support and engagement (including ~1000 faculty across our three system universities), 2) built strong support and engagement with the Chicago business and tech community, 3) opened a 20,000 sq. ft. facility for the institute in downtown Chicago, and 4) announced and/or built relationships with 5 non-UI system DPI academic partners.
- Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering, UIUC, 2019-2020.
This named professorship was given to Sanders in 2019 for his contributions related to trustworthy systems, particularly those that protect critical infrastructure.
- Head, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UIUC, 2014-2020. (Interim Head, 2013-2014.)
Executive officer (Head) for department with approximately 110 faculty members and 60 staff; responsible for administrative, budgetary, hiring, and tenure decisions, and for leading the faculty and staff in the development of research, teaching, and public service programs. Oversees administrative and research expenditures of about $75M per year. Oversees and participates in extensive advancement activities as head, including managing and increasing the Dept. endowment of approximately $75M. Leads aggressive faculty hiring campaign that has hired 35 new tenure-track, 8 teaching, and 5 research faculty since Jan. 2014.
- Director, Coordinated Science Laboratory, UIUC, 2010-2014. (Acting Director, 2008-2010.)
Executive officer (Director) of laboratory; responsible for research program with over 100 faculty members and 350 technical staff members. During Sanders’s term as director, CSL’s annual research expenditures rose from $17M to over $40M. It is a premier, multidisciplinary research laboratory that focuses on information technology at the crossroads of computing, control, and communications. During Sanders’s tenure as director, CSL contained 3 institutes (the Advanced Digital Sciences Center, the Information Trust Institute, and the Parallel Computing Institute) and 7 centers (Center for Exascale Simulation of Plasma-Coupled Combustion; Center for People and Infrastructures; CompGEN; the Health Care Engineering Systems Center; the National Center for Professional & Research Ethics; SONIC Systems on Nanoscale Information fabriCs; and TCIPG, the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid Center).
- Associate Director, Advanced Digital Sciences Center, UIUC, 2009-2020.
Co-founded Center in 2009; is Illinois-based lead of the center, responsible (together with director) for its overall operation. ADSC is a bricks-and-mortar research laboratory in Singapore, with 14 participating Illinois faculty, 57 full-time technical staff members, and about $70M U.S. in research funding (over 7 years) from the government of Singapore.
- Donald Biggar Willett Professor in Engineering, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UIUC, 2005-2018.
This named professorship was given to Sanders in 2005 for his contributions in dependability/security evaluation, reliable and secure systems, and computer systems modeling and analysis.
- Director, Information Trust Institute, UIUC, 2004-2011.
Executive officer (founding Director); established the Institute and grew it to include over 100 faculty from 28 departments, bringing in over $80M of external research funding and creating or helping create the TCIP and TCIPG (Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid) Centers, the Boeing Trusted Software Center, the Illinois Cyber Security Scholars Program, the Illinois Center for a Smarter Electric Grid, the Center for Assured Critical Application & Infrastructure Security (CACAIS), the Assured Cloud Computing University Center of Excellence, and an NSA Science of Security Lablet.
- Professor, Information Trust Institute, UIUC, 2004-Present.
- Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UIUC, 1998-Present.
- Professor, Coordinated Science Laboratory, UIUC, 1998-Present.
- Associate Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UIUC, 1994-1998.
- Research Associate Professor, Coordinated Science Laboratory, UIUC, 1994-1998.
- Faculty Affiliate, Department of Computer Science, UIUC, 1994-Present.
- Associate Professor, Dept. of Electrical and Comp. Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 1994.
- Assistant Professor, Dept. of Elect. and Comp. Engineering, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 1988-1994.
Research and leadership awards and honors
- Executive Officer Distinguished Leadership Award, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2018.
- IEEE Technical Field Award, Innovation in Societal Infrastructure, for “assessment-driven design of trustworthy cyber infrastructures for societal-scale systems,” 2016.
- Named Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for the development of fundamental theory and practical techniques to ensure that societal-scale distributed computing systems are trustworthy, 2014.
- NASA Tech Brief Award for NTR no 42352: “A Performability-Oriented Software Rejuvenation Framework for Distributed Applications,” 2006.
- Named Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery for “Outstanding contributions to the evaluation and design of dependable systems and networks,” January 2004.
- Named Fellow of the IEEE, for “Contributions to tools and techniques for performance and dependability evaluation of computer systems and networks,” January 2000.
- Made Director of University of Illinois Motorola Center for High-Availability System Validation, established by Motorola Inc. in December 1999 with funding of $1.1 million dollars for a 3-year period.
- Elected member of IFIP Working Group 10.4 on Dependable Computing, July 1992 (youngest member ever elected).
- Recipient of Faculty Award, Digital Equipment Corporation, Incentives for Excellence, 1989, 1990, 1991. Twelve faculty members are selected nationally each year to receive this award. An individual can receive this award for a maximum of three years. ($75,000 cash prize, $105,000 in equipment).
- Recipient of 17 conference Best Paper awards dating from 1995 to 2016.
- Member: Sigma Xi and Eta Kappa Nu academic honor societies.
Teaching awards and honors
- Named on the University of Illinois’s Fall 2015 List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students.
- Named on the University of Illinois’s Fall 2014 List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students.
- Named on the University of Illinois’s Fall 2003 Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students.
- Named on the University of Illinois’s Fall 2002 Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students.
- Recipient of one of the 2002 Engineering Council Awards for Excellence in Advising, awarded to the top 10% of engineering advisors. (Selection is based on nominations from engineering students.)
- Recipient of one of the 2000 Engineering Council Awards for Excellence in Advising, awarded to the top 10% of engineering advisors. (Selection is based on nominations from engineering students.)
- Recipient of one of the 1998 Engineering Council Awards for Excellence in Advising, awarded to the top 10% of engineering advisors. (Selection is based on nominations from engineering students.)
Ph.D., Computer Science and Engineering, University of Michigan
MSE, Computer, Information, and Control Engineering, University of Michigan
BSE, Computer Engineering, University of Michigan
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