$1.14M from the State of Maryland will Match Private Donation to Establish Two Brendan Iribe Endowed Professorships in ECE and CS at UMD

The University of Maryland will receive $1.14 million from the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative (MEI) to fully match a private donation establishing the Brendan Iribe Endowed Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Brendan Iribe Endowed Professorship in Computer Science. These new endowed professorships, made possible by the generosity of alum Brendan Iribe (ee-REEB’), will be held by experts in robotics, autonomy, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be in computing than now,” Iribe said. “We’re at the forefront of a new age in technology where computers begin to sense and understand the world, creating an augmented reality full of new opportunities and potential. I’m thrilled to support UMD’s efforts to teach, inspire and pioneer the future.”

The MEI launched in 2015 to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at colleges and universities around the state. This latest funding from the program brings UMD’s total to nearly $13 million, which supports 17 endowed chairs and professors, including 12 in computer science.

“Our renowned research and academic programs in robotics and machine learning will be further enhanced by these two new Brendan Iribe Endowed Professorships,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “I want to thank proud Terp Brendan Iribe and the state of Maryland for recognizing the value of research that helps us tackle grand challenges, while significantly contributing to the economic competitiveness and workforce development in our state.”

This is just the latest gift to UMD from Iribe, who co-founded the virtual reality company Oculus and is the namesake of the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, a state-of-the-art facility on UMD’s campus that opened in 2019, and the Iribe Initiative for Inclusion and Diversity in Computing, which aims to increase diversity and foster a stronger environment of inclusion among computing students at UMD.

The fields of robotics, autonomy, artificial intelligence and machine learning have experienced exponential growth in recent years and UMD is a leader in all of them. From unmanned air vehicles to underwater and terrestrial autonomous robots, researchers at UMD are leading the way in robotics and autonomous vehicles, with potential applications related to disaster resilience, weather monitoring, agriculture, security, search and rescue, product delivery, and efficient transportation. UMD’s expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning extends from foundational research and bias and fairness in the field to applications including natural language processing, manufacturing, quantum technology, financial markets and auctions, health care, and physical processes and materials.

“The convergence of AI, machine learning, edge computing, and robotics has the potential to transform the future of technology. The creation of intelligent systems will impact transportation, manufacturing, health care, national defense, and much more. I am proud to say at Maryland, we’re at the forefront in creating this future,” said Samuel Graham, Jr., dean of the university's A. James Clark School of Engineering. “The Brendan Iribe Professorships will help us to continue to attract and retain the leaders we need for this rapidly growing field. We’re incredibly appreciative of Brendan Iribe and the state of Maryland’s generosity and we look forward to the innovations it will generate.”

The Brendan Iribe Endowed Professors will join a vibrant community of researchers at UMD who focus on robotics, autonomy, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Many are members of the Maryland Robotics Center and the Center for Machine Learning

The Clark School and CMNS also offer numerous educational programs focused on these areas, including undergraduate majors, minors and specializations, as well as graduate certificates, master’s, professional master’s and doctoral degree programs.

In the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, UMD’s electrical engineering program ranks 8th, computer science ranks 9th and computer engineering ranks 10th among the country’s public graduate programs. Among the country’s public undergraduate programs, UMD’s computer science program ranks 9th, computer engineering ranks 14th and electrical engineering ranks 15th.

Iribe’s generous gifts support Fearless Ideas: The Campaign for Maryland, UMD’s $1.5 billion fundraising campaign focused on elevating and expanding the university’s mission of service, enhancing academic distinction and bolstering UMD’s leading-edge research enterprise.

The Clark School thanks Abby Robinson, CMNS, for this story.

Published December 7, 2021