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Chiang appointed director of Keller Center

Mung Chiang, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, was appointed director of the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education last Wednesday, the University announced.

Chiang began his time at the University as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering in 2003, and has received many awards both for his teaching and for his research. He has been one of the first University professors to teach through the online educational platform, Coursera.

The Keller Center, founded in 2005, strives to “educate students to be leaders in a technology-driven society,” according to its website. It offers courses and events that focus on educational innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.

“I feel a strong sense of responsibility to be the next director,” Chiang said. “It has become a very unique and important part of Princeton.”

Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science H. Vincent Poor, who was actively involved in the search process, said he was looking for a candidate with creativity, innovative spirit, and entrepreneurial experience and style. He said Chiang is an innovator with exactly the right credentials for the Keller Center.

“Professor Chiang has done very creative things in the educational sphere,” Poor said. “He has a great track record. He has wonderful ideas about entrepreneurship, how it fits into the educational mission of the University. I’m expecting great things from him.”

The Keller Center’s website explains that the Center offers courses for students of all interests, integrating engineering, the natural sciences and humanities, and continues to develop new courses while improving old ones. Beyond academics, the Keller Center offers internships, workshops and hands-on opportunities that help students better understand technology and its relationship with the global economy, society, environment and culture. It sponsors the Annual Innovation Forum, which allows students to gain exposure in the entrepreneurial world, and the highly popular eLab, an accelerator program for student entrepreneurs on campus.

Chiang said that “this is a truly exciting time to build on the Keller Center, in both the area of entrepreneurship programs and the area of education and innovation.” He explained that the center is pushing frontiers and should continue to engage alumni, visitors and the community.

“The Keller Center in itself is a startup,” Poor said. “Some of the programs, particularly entrepreneurial programs, are still expanding very rapidly. It will be a challenge meeting the demand for new programs, new ideas, keeping up with what’s going on.”

Poor used the word “growth” to characterize the Keller Center and noted there are challenges that come with it, albeit extremely good challenges for which he felt Chiang was prepared.

Chiang said one of his challenges is to make sure the Center’s success continues.

“I’m in the listening phase,” he said. He added that he believes his first task, “keeping the arms open, keeping the mind open,” would put him in a well-informed position for the future of the Keller Center.

Chiang has received many honors for his research on networking, including the 2013 Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor in the United States for scientists and engineers under 35. He has also been lauded for his innovative teaching, specifically his 20 questions approach to networking technology, which he published in a book he wrote in 2012. Chiang received the 2013 Frederick Emmons Terman Award by the American Society of Engineering Education.

Chiang said he hopes the Keller Center will become “the catalyst that will help amplify our very strong education and research program on campus.”

Going beyond academia, Chiang is a cofounder of two startup companies, DataMi and EdWiser. In 2009, he founded the Princeton EDGE Lab, which narrows the gap between theory and practice in networking.

Carlee Joe-Wong GS, a cofounder of DataMi and a member of the core team for EDGE Lab, said Chiang as a professor “really helps you focus on your research and see how it is relevant to the real world.”

Chiang will succeed Sanjeev Kulkarni, who recently became Dean of the Graduate School. Kulkarni declined to comment. Chiang will officially begin his position on March 31.

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