November 2021

Featured Article


Reflections on Serving as Chair

By: Michael Giesselmann, Texas Tech University 


I had the honor & privilege to serve as chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in the Edward E. Whitacre College of Engineering (WCOE) at Texas Tech University for over a decade from Sep. 2010 until March 2021. I joined the Department in August 1986 as an Assistant Professor and served as Graduate advisor and Associate chair for graduate studies before becoming chair. I was fortunate that the department chairs that served before me, including the chair that hired me in August 1986 were all excellent mentors that prepared me for a leadership role in Academia. I can say the same for the deans that nurtured me as a tenure-track faculty member and later in various administrative roles. Without their collective mentorship, I would have been ill prepared for my role as Department chair. I am confident that I imparted some of this wisdom to the current Departmental leadership team, a mentoring assignment I conscientiously pursued.


Working closely with the current Dean, we were able to create a culture of safety in the laboratories that is distinctly better than what it was before. Specifically, for ECE that means that defibrillators are present throughout the Department, in all labs and also the main administrative offices to handle non-electrical emergencies. Also, the college was setting the standard for infection control during the Covid-19 pandemic enabling face-to-face classes as early as Fall 2020.


Being department chair is frequently described as the toughest job on campus. It is definitely a service job that I feel should be approached with the attitude that the department is doing well if your faculty are doing well and they feel that you are trying to create the best environment for them to enable them to do great teaching & research. In that spirit I had the fortune to guide several faculty from the rank of Assistant to Full Professor. It is also very important to have an open-door policy for staff and students. Especially in budget matters, I was leaning on my business manager for all major decisions and before making promises. I feel it is important to attend as many meetings of student organizations such as Tau Beta Pi, IEEE, Women in Engineering, Eta Kappa Nu, and others, attending tailgates, etc. and to listen to students’ concerns. At the regional and national level, it is very important for a chair to attend ECEDHA sponsored meetings and bring other people from the department along.


I was fortunate to lead a department with seven faculty members that are members of the TTU Teaching Academy. Several of these faculty members did outstanding work in engaging prospective students in a large area around Lubbock while they are in the K-12 education system. One concrete outcome is that during my time as chair our percentage of female undergraduate enrollment more than doubled.


On the research side, I was fortunate to have been able to cultivate university level investments in research support infrastructure that included a private company with a very capable and energetic CEO that was dedicated to help Texas Tech to seize opportunities in the renewable energy field. Along with talented and dedicated faculty from my department and across other departments and colleges, we were able to build a first class MicroGrid facility embedded in a wind farm and complemented with large storage batteries and a Synchrophasor network at the Reese Technology center, which was a former Air Force base and that is close to campus. This facility is now used by faculty across the WCOE. In addition, my fellow faculty made great strides in the areas of Pulsed Power, Nanophononics, Power Electronics, Radar Technology, Nanotech, MEMS, and Cybersecurity. Under college leadership that involved my representing ECE, Texas Tech became a member a member of Cymanii, The Cybersecurity Manufacturing Infrastructure Institute led by the University of Texas at San Antonio. According to their Website, “Cymanii along with fifteen other manufacturing innovation institutes (sponsored by either the U.S. Department of Commerce, Defense, or Energy), bring together member organizations from manufacturers of all sizes, academia and government to work on major research and development projects relevant to industry and train people on advanced manufacturing skills.”, which is more urgent than ever at the tail end of the Pandemic.


Looking back, I would have the following advice for a new chair:

  • Built a good leadership team including staff, ask for honest advice and listen to them.
  • Make data driven decisions. Don’t rush major decisions.
  • Lead by example. Don’t ask other to do things that you are not willing to do yourself.
  • Mentor and protect your faculty, especially your tenure track faculty.
  • Network with fellow chairs through ECEDHA at the regional and national level.
  • Network with chairs throughout your University.
  • Keep the Dean appraised of potential trouble ahead, no surprises.
  • Engage with the students and student organizations in formal & informal settings.
  • Keep up your own research if you ever plan to return to the faculty and to “lead by example”


Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of ECEDHA and SWECEDHA and good luck!!



Dr. Michael Giesselmann, P.E. received his doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering in 1986 from the Technical University in Darmstadt, Germany. At present he holds the rank of Professor and is the Past Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas Tech University. Dr. Giesselmann is a Life Senior Member of the IEEE and a licensed Professional Engineer in Texas. Dr. Michael Giesselmann has been a principal faculty member and key researcher in the Pulsed Power Laboratory since 1986. During his 30+ years in the Laboratory, Dr. Giesselmann educated a new generation of leaders in the field of Pulsed Power which are in decision-making positions in National and Department of Defense (DOD) Laboratories. Since the early 1990’s Dr. Giesselmann worked on solid state Power Electronics for Pulsed Power Applications.  Dr. Giesselmann worked on high power density designs for continuous operation at the 500 kW level for 60 kV DC as well as 13.8 kV AC 60 Hz output for ship borne & airborne applications.

Dr. Giesselmann has extensive experience with Wind Power and renewable energy systems in both teaching & research capacity. He was the lead in procuring a 1MW – 1MWhr battery storage system to complement a wind farm at Reese Technology Center in Lubbock Texas and install a Synchro-Phasor Network to monitor the SPP grid in the Texas Panhandle. He is currently a Co-PI on the $13 Mio GLEAMM project at Reese Technology Center, He was the committee chair of 34 graduate students and served on the committees of 66 others. To date Dr. Giesselmann has published more than 160 articles in the form of journal papers, conference proceedings and book chapters. He has participated in funded research totaling over $33 Mio.