David C. Munson Jr.

2003–2006 | Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
David Munson Jr. Enlarge
David Munson Jr.

David Munson Jr. came to Michigan in 2003 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was the Robert C. MacClinchie Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Research Professor in the Coordinated Science Laboratory, and a faculty member in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.

His research interests spanned a variety of topics throughout the field of signal and image processing. In particular, his research concentrated on computational imaging, i.e. on systems that use computers to calculate images from data acquired by sensors. Examples of such systems include computer tomography, synthetic aperture radar, radio astronomy, and hybrid optical/digital systems. Prof. Munson was also involved in projects focused on radar imaging of the moon, radar imaging of a runway from a landing aircraft, and on a new form of 3-D radar for imaging objects having complicated geometries.

In 2003, Prof. Munson co-founded the company InstaRecon, which produces software for fast image reconstruction in computer tomography. Their goal is to have the algorithms used in hospital scanners.

Tapped to be Dean of the College of Engineering in 2006, in the three short years he served as Chair of the Department, he showed some of the traits that marked his extraordinary reign as Dean for the next 10 years. The most obvious was his attention to undergraduate students.

He devoted significant resources to the Wilson Student Projects Center, the home of the College’s interdisciplinary student teams. He established a new Multidisciplinary Design Program, which has been extremely successful and popular among students. He made a push to increase the number of students participating in International experiences, and he established the Center for Entrepreneurship in 2008.

Munson had a knack for assigning the right person for the job. When he set Tom Zurbuchen loose to expand the College’s entrepreneurial activities, the Center for Entrepreneurship took off like a rocket. The same thing happened when Brian Gilchrist was appointed Director of the newly-established program in multidisciplinary design.

One of his early hires in the EECS Department was Mark Kushner. Mark was charged with bringing together all the activities in plasma science happening throughout the University – and he’s done a brilliant job with that, in addition to running his own large research center.

Under Dave’s leadership, we have a new Robotics Program – and a new building is in the works to allow for greater collaboration among researchers in this highly interdisciplinary field. Another of his lasting legacies will be our strengthened ties with the Medical School.

Dave facilitated getting Engineering space in the North Campus Research Complex when it was seen as quite risky financially. This facility has become an essential part of the College’s infrastructure. Several ECE faculty are happy with their space in NCRC.

Aggressive in expanding the number of faculty at the College, Dave kept Michigan growing when the rest of the country was being more cautious. He also brought arts and engineering together. As Chair of EECS, he initiated a showcase for faculty and students to perform (called the Fall Bash), and as Dean, he facilitated new courses aimed at engineering and liberal arts students alike.

Ever the educator, Dave taught courses even as Chair. His texbook, Analog Signals and Systems, focuses on the mathematical analysis and design of analog signal processing, and is designed for second year electrical engineering students. In 2016, he was honored with the Benjamin Garver Lamme Award from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

In 2017, he tapped again for a bigger job, this time as President of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

References and Further Reading

Michigan Daily: “Munson Reappointed Dean of Engineering”