Chris Rose, a professor of engineering and associate provost for STEM initiatives at Brown University, will receive the 2022 Undergraduate Teaching Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest engineering professional organization.
IEEE recognized Rose for “innovations in team-oriented signature design and inspiring women and underrepresented minority students to pursue engineering.”
An expert in wireless system communication theory, Rose has taught an upper-level electrical engineering course called Communication Systems since joining the Brown faculty in 2015. He also serves as faculty advisor for Brown’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and is a past winner of the Award for Service/Dedication to Black Students presented by Brown’s ONYX Society. As associate provost, Rose develops strategies for recruiting STEM faculty from groups historically underrepresented in higher education.
Rose said he is grateful to receive the IEEE award, but even more pleased about what it says about the importance of advocacy and support for members of underrepresented groups.
“What's most satisfying about the award has nothing to do with me,” Rose said. “The important thing to me is that through this award, IEEE recognizes the fact that educating, mentoring and encouraging people from underrepresented groups in science and engineering is a critical, national-level endeavor.”
Rose’s students note his creativity as an educator and his unwavering commitment to student success.
“What I admire most about Chris’ teaching style is that he gives his students the space to think and discover things on their own,” said Sultan Daniels, a senior engineering concentrator at Brown. “His ‘quizzes’ (which should definitely be called exams) are like puzzles. The creativity of his problems not only test the student’s understanding of the concepts, but also their ingenuity.”
George Kubai, who graduated in May 2021, worked closely with Rose as vice president of NSBE.
“If there’s one thing Chris Rose does best, it’s student advocacy,” Kubai said. “He was a huge resource for NSBE. We knew we had someone to advocate for us in ways we didn’t know how to, or couldn’t do ourselves. The way he interacts with students allows them to know that he truly cares and wants the best for them. He is more than a professor — he was a friend.”
Daniels echoed Kubai’s praise of Rose’s mentorship but added that his support does not come at the expense of driving students to succeed, academically and otherwise.
“He pushes us to produce exemplary work and is always there for support and heartfelt encouragement,” Daniels said.
Rose first came to Brown in 2014 as a visiting professor in the School of Engineering, before joining the faculty as a full professor in 2015. He was named associate provost in 2020. In that role, he helped found the Provost’s Visiting Professors Program as well as the Thinking Out Loud lecture series supported by the Office of the President.
In 2018, Rose founded STEMJazz, a program featuring seminars and networking opportunities for scholars from different disciplines, particularly those from underrepresented groups. The goal is to bolster the success and thriving of students and faculty by connecting them with collaborators across campus.
“The idea is to build sustainable diversity, changing the way people think,” Rose explains. “It is my firm belief that because of the hurdles that minority folks have to jump over to break into these fields, they tend to be really good if they make it to a certain level. And on top of that, they tend to be broader and more creative. When we bring those people together, we create career-sustaining collaborations, as well as new and exciting research avenues.”
Before coming to Brown, Rose was a founding member of the Wireless Information Networks Laboratory (WINLAB) at Rutgers, where he served as associate director from 1999 through 2007. Prior to Rutgers, he was a researcher at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Rose is a fellow of the IEEE, cited for contributions to wireless system communications theory, and is a past member of the Army Science Board.
The IEEE Undergraduate Teaching Award was established in 1990 to honor top teachers in electrical and electronics engineering and related disciplines. Rose will receive a bronze medal, a certificate and an honorarium.