The Rice University student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) will open a student lounge in the Abercrombie Lab named after the late William L. Wilson Jr., longtime electrical and computer engineering (ECE) professor known affectionately to generations of students as “Dr. Bill.”
A dedication ceremony for the lounge in room A147, next to the “circuits lab,” is scheduled for 3 p.m., Nov. 4, at the start of Homecoming Weekend.
“We hope that the lounge will become the go-to place for ECE undergrads to meet up and do work together. It’s an ideal alternative to trying to find a room in another building and it’s right next to the lab where we already spend a lot of our time,” said Hana Wang, a McMurtry College senior and co-president of Rice’s IEEE chapter.
Fifteen Rice alumni, most of them former ECE majors, donated more than $7,000 to furnish the lounge with desks, chairs and white boards, and to provide a plaque dedicating the room to Wilson’s memory.
“Dr. Bill was a beloved friend and mentor to Rice students and alumni in countless ways,” said George Webb ’88, ’91, president of the Rice Engineering Alumni and one of Wilson’s former students. “In his role as a professor, it’s fair to say Dr. Bill’s first passion was for undergraduate teaching, evidenced by his many teaching awards and his long service as member and chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum. This lounge, dedicated to students and located next to the lab where he taught, is a fitting tribute to Dr. Bill’s legacy as an engineering teacher.”
A specialist in semiconductors, optic devices and lasers, and a co-founder of Connexions, Wilson was an ECE professor at Rice from 1972 until his retirement in 2006. He served as resident associate of Wiess College from 1978 until he retired. Wilson died in January 2009 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
Wilson received the Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teaching Award and the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and was the only person to win the Student Association’s Mentor Recognition Award twice. After his death, the Rice Board of Trustees voted to name the new Wiess masters house after Wilson. The Wilson House was dedicated last March.