Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering

The Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering was made possible by the generous support of Herman Dieckamp. Established in 2011, the Herman M. Dieckamp Endowment Fund supports the advancement of teaching and research in highly reliable, fail-safe and resilient systems, which are necessary to protect critical infrastructure.

The Herman M. Dieckamp Endowment Fund initially supported post-doctoral researchers. Due to his continued generosity, the fund has since been expanded to establish an endowed chair position, student internships with industry partners, professional development support, infrastructure support, and other activities that enhance the university’s expertise and reputation in system reliability, security, and trust.

Dieckamp graduated from the University of Illinois in 1950 with a degree in engineering physics. He chose Illinois in part because of its engineering program and, with a strong background in the fundamentals of math and physics, positioned himself for a thriving career in energy – a field then undergoing transformative changes with the emergence of nuclear technology.

After nearly 40 years in the nuclear energy industry, Dieckamp retired as president and chief operating officer of General Public Utilities. He believes there’s still an important place in the energy industry for safe nuclear technology, and hopes his investment in building fail-safe systems at Illinois will create “extreme reliability” in nuclear plans and other critical infrastructure.

Faculty: William H. Sanders

William H. Sanders
William H. Sanders

Illinois ECE Professor William H Sanders was named Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering on January 1, 2019.

William H. Sanders is a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as Interim Director of the Discovery Partners Institute. He is currently on leave from his position of Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. During his tenure as department head, he led an aggressive faculty hiring campaign that has hired 35 new tenure-track, 8 teaching, and 5 research faculty since January 2014. He was also the founding Director of the Information Trust Institute (2004-2011) and served as Director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory at Illinois from 2010 to 2014.

Sanders is a developer of technologies to ensure that societal-scale infrastructure systems are trustworthy. An expert in the area of assessment-driven design, he has made groundbreaking impacts in creating both mathematical and algorithmic foundations for design and tools for a mathematically rigorous assessment of distributed system implementations. His achievements have focused on approaches to building societal-scale systems with quantifiable trust properties. He took what was a craft-based approach to system architecture, and created a mathematically sound approach to resiliency to produce distributed computing systems with known dependability and security properties. Some of those approaches are implemented in Möbius which has been licensed to over 2,700 academic/industry users for practical use.

Sanders and colleagues created one of the earliest secure power grid architectures as well as the assessment tools and metrics to quantify smart grid resilience. He was the Principal Investigator of the NSF-supported center-scale power grid program called TCIP (2005), which brought together five major universities - Illinois, Dartmouth, Washington State, Cornell, and later UC Davis - and 25 utilities and major power grid equipment vendors in the first-ever university-industry-government partnership for power system cybersecurity. The center was the first to propose a comprehensive architecture for the smart grid to achieve cybersecurity. Because of TCIP's success, DOE and DHS expanded the scope of the effort dramatically in 2009 with the creation of TCIPG, which continued to do basic research on smart grid resiliency with a greatly expanded mission of research, training, education, and technology transfer.

Two examples of Sanders' and colleagues technical contributions in this area of work include specification-based intrusion detection (transferred to FirstEnergy and used on a commercial system with over 50,000 smart meters), and NP-View. NP-View provides the only way to prove whether a computer network used in a process control setting meets NERC-CIP 5, a Federal requirement. It has fundamentally changed how NERC auditors and utilities audit their networks; over 70 companies have already licensed NP-View for commercial use. These examples illustrate how Sanders and his colleagues combine research scholarship with an ability and vision to create and sustain multi-university partnerships and outreach to industry.

He holds a BS in Computer Engineering, MS in Computer, Information and Control Engineering and PhD in Computer Science and Engineering, all from the University of Michigan.