David Yu, professor, electrical engineering, retired at the end of 2020, after a 36-year career at UWM during which he built his research in electric power systems, served as faculty advisor to 12 doctoral students, led the college as it established ties with universities in China and Taiwan and held leadership positions in the university and in the College of Engineering & Applied Science. Yu served as the college’s associate dean for graduate study (2009-2013), the interim dean of UWM’s Graduate School (2011-2012), and most recently the college’s interim associate dean of research (2018-2019).
Yu’s expertise within power systems came to include the integration of wind power, distribution system analysis, reliability analysis, the artificial neural network (ANN) application of intelligent maintenance/monitoring, and microgrid analysis.
“David’s hard work and dedication have been instrumental in the growth and success of our international recruitment, internships, and collaborative partnerships with numerous institutions,” said Brett Peters, dean of the College of Engineering & Applied Science. “He has touched the lives of so many students in the classroom—as an advisor and a mentor—that his impact will be long lasting.”
In addition to his formal leadership roles, Peters commended Yu’s informal leadership. “His attitude and willingness to help students, faculty and staff made a tremendous difference in so many situations,” he said.
Established ties with international academic partner institutions
With an eye on the global nature of engineering, Yu led the college as it strengthened its ties with universities in China and Taiwan. “We are preparing students to work in a global economy, which includes helping them become comfortable with other cultures and languages,” he said. “It is increasingly important that students have experiences that help them understand cultures other than the one they grew up knowing.”
UWM engineering students first ventured to Taiwan in 2009 in a summer study-abroad program. Through this now-established program, the college has since sent more than 50 undergraduate students to Taiwan’s Chung Yuan Christian University as part of a student exchange.
In 2017, two undergraduate engineering students completed a 14-week application engineering internship at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)—a preeminent Chinese university—that was a joint effort by UWM, SJTU and Rockwell Automation.
Also in 2017, four of the college’s students shared first place in an annual Rockwell Automation competition held in Shanghai that gauged knowledge and command of Rockwell Automation’s precision control equipment. The event was judged by automation experts in China and representatives from China’s Ministry of Education.
In 2018, Yu and other college administrators traveled China to formalize the student exchange program with SJTU and strengthen collaborations with long-time industry partners around global manufacturing operations.
“It’s been a wonderful and rewarding journey”
“UWM and CEAS have been my home for past 36 years,” Yu said. “I will miss the place, the students, and friendships a lot. I will miss the feeling of at the beginning of a new semester. I will miss travelling with our students to Taiwan and Shanghai and experiencing their excitements. I will miss the barbeques with my graduate students in my back yard. I will miss the thrill of finishing up a proposal and barely beating the deadline.
“I leave with a deepest appreciation for my dear colleagues, our students, and our beloved institution. Thank you for your friendship and advice throughout my career—it has been a wonderful and rewarding journey.”