CMU-SV Director Martin Griss to Step Down, Continue as Research Scientist-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CMU-SV Director Martin Griss to Step Down, Continue as Research Scientist

Martin Griss, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Silicon Valley campus since 2009, will step down as director at the end of the 2012-13 academic year. Griss will continue with the campus as a principal research scientist.

“I’m excited to help the campus grow in a different capacity as I focus on research while spending more time with my family and on my artwork,” said Griss.

Griss has been with the Silicon Valley campus since its inception in 2002, first as a mentor, a role that grew and led to the nickname ‘MOM’ – ‘mentor of mentors.’ In 2003, he became director of the Software Engineering program and eventually led the nascent Software Management program as well. Soon afterward, Griss became the associate dean of education and associate dean of research after bootstrapping the CyLab Mobility Research Center in 2008. He was named director of the Silicon Valley campus and associate dean for the College of Engineering (CIT) in 2009. (Read Griss’ full bio and list of research publications.)

Griss’ time at CMU-SV in these various roles has been characterized by immense growth. Carnegie Mellon’s branch campus initially served solely part-time students and has since transformed into a thriving intellectual community that has produced over 700 alumni and is welcoming the largest incoming class of full-time students to date in fall 2013. “In 2006, there was a very real sense of, ‘are we going to make it?’” explained Griss. “We’ve really accomplished the promise that we saw back then.”

“While serving as director of the Silicon Valley campus, Martin helped effect a number of important changes to the campus,“ said CIT dean James Garrett. “We began offering MS and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as a bicoastal MS in partnership with the Information Networking Institute; a Disaster Management Initiative was launched; and the CyLab Mobility Research Center was created.”

The former dean of CIT and currently chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, Pradeep Khosla, who worked closely with Griss on many of these initiatives, praised him as “ a man of great vision and commitment.” Khosla continued, stating, “Under Martin’s leadership, Carnegie Mellon’s Silicon Valley campus has grown and become more vibrant. It was a pleasure working with him because he is extremely collaborative and creative, and focused on solving problems that advanced CMU and the College of Engineering’s mission and vision.”

The growth of the research program during Griss’ time as director has resulted in notable collaborative projects with NASA, a key partner of the campus since 2001. “About a third of our research scientists are NASA-affiliated,” said Griss.

“Martin has made CMU-SV relevant to the daily lives of many Silicon Valley leaders and organizations,” noted Michael Marlaire, director of NASA Research Park. “His willingness to engage others and share his expertise on a host of initiatives has made CMU-SV a key component of the world-class Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem. NASA Ames Research Center and the NASA Research Park in particular owe Martin a great debt of sincere appreciation for his efforts."

Griss serves as director of the Disaster Management Initiative (DMI), created from the development of the Mobility Research center. The DMI ran its third workshop in fall 2012, which resulted in several published papers, the release of an influential report on the San Bruno fire, several proposals and new relationships with FEMA and emergency management organizations in Mountain View, Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

As the campus has matured, the CMU-SV community has become defined by its emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship and real world learning. “The students who come here want that hands-on approach to learning," Griss commented. “They also want to be in Silicon Valley and fully take advantage of the opportunities to innovate in the center of tech innovation. They possess that entrepreneurial spirit that we really value; they want to invent and create and I think that makes our campus a little different from other universities.” Griss has continued to teach and advise several masters and Ph.D. students throughout his tenure as director.

“As an advisor, Martin has always been incredibly supportive and encouraging,” said Faisal Luqman, a Ph.D. candidate who will defend in December 2013. “I always feel that I come out of every interaction with Martin with something valuable, having gained new insights, and learned to analyze things from different perspectives. I'm very grateful to Martin for believing in me and enabling me grow as a researcher and as an individual."

The Ph.D. program will graduate its first students this summer and continues to produce innovative research that is recognized in notable conferences and journals. From the masters programs, already over a dozen startups have spun out of the campus’ students and faculty, and the MS Software Management program in particular nurtures the ideas of budding entrepreneurs while connecting them to the Silicon Valley venture community.

“I’ve been very privileged to have been a part of the campus’ development of a robust research program and full-time student population,” said Griss. “I think we’re poised to do even more in our next 5 year phase. The synergy that takes place in this melting pot for doing collaborative things is something you can’t get everywhere. We’re small, creative and collaborative and we can do great things for CMU and our surrounding community through that.”

“With Martin’s guidance, the campus has grown and strengthened relationships with local industry, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and the Pittsburgh campus,” praised Garrett. “I sincerely thank Martin for his leadership of the Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley Campus and welcome him back to the CMU-SV faculty." Dean Garrett will appoint a new director of CMU-SV, to be announced this summer.

CMU-SV will hold a reception for Griss on August 10 at the Fourth Annual Technology Showcase and Alumni Reception. All alumni and industry guests are encouraged to attend. Please register online here.