Illinois Engineering Names Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering

3/5/2019 Illinois Engineering

ECE ILLINOIS Professor William H. Sanders was named Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering

Written by Illinois Engineering

Bill Sanders
Bill Sanders
ECE ILLINOIS Professor William H Sanders was named Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering, which took effect on January 1, 2019. The professorship is made possible by a gift from Illinois alumnus Herman Dieckamp, supporting research and scholarly activities related to trustworthy systems, particularly those that protect critical infrastructure.

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. 

Share this story

This story was published March 5, 2019.