By Reeve Hamilton

Cornell Tech and Cornell Engineering are preparing to build upon, and benefit from, their complementary strengths in an unprecedented way, their respective deans announced on Wednesday. They revealed that Silvia Ferrari, the John Brancaccio Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, will serve as the inaugural associate dean for cross-campus engineering research.

Reporting to the deans at both Cornell Engineering and Cornell Tech, this newly created role is designed to develop impactful initiatives and cross-campus research partnerships that lead to research centers of excellence that span the Ithaca and New York City campuses, as well as the Technion.

“We are thrilled to have Silvia step into this much-needed leadership role, which will catalyze a number of impactful projects and elevate the work we do throughout Cornell,” said Greg Morrissett, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost at Cornell Tech. “This is a great example of a ‘One Cornell’ mindset in action.”

The focus of the new associate dean’s agenda is expected to be on big ideas in priority research areas, such as autonomy, robotics, urban technology, and neuroscience. These are areas where Ferrari has already demonstrated intellectual leadership and ability to organize successful multi-investigator research teams.

Ferrari’s own research focuses on active perception, computational intelligence, and sensorimotor learning and control theory. She currently serves as the Director of the Laboratory for Intelligent Systems and Controls (LISC) based in Ithaca and Co-director of the Cornell-Unibo Věho Institute on Vehicle Intelligence at Cornell Tech.

In perhaps an early demonstration of work she will build upon as associate dean, Ferrari recently organized the successful Autonomy and Mobility in Engineered and Natural Environments Workshop, which was held on Roosevelt Island and highlighted the latest research and proposed solutions from the smart cities and urban technology academic communities.

“Silvia’s work lies at the intersection of multiple emergent fields of science and technology that underpin priority research directions both at Cornell Engineering and Cornell Tech,” said Lynden Archer, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. “Her familiarity with both campuses, as well as her proven ability to forge strong connections with partners in industry, government, and internationally, make her ideally suited to lead our inter-campus research partnership.”

Prior to joining Cornell, Ferrari was professor of engineering and computer science at Duke University, where she founded and directed an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship and Fellowship program on Wireless Intelligent Sensor Networks. She received her B.S. degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University.

“One of the main reasons I chose Cornell is that our research is designed to be so interdisciplinary, which is ideal for the future of engineering,” Ferrari said. “Because of our culture, bringing Cornell Engineering and Cornell Tech together like this will create tremendous opportunities. I am eager to hear ideas from the faculty and students throughout the Cornell community as we begin this new phase of engineering research across our campuses.”

This story originally appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.