Engineering for Health
Richard B. Brown (BS ’76, MS ’76), who grew up on a dairy farm, could not have imagined he would someday design computers, solid-state sensors, brain probes, and marry Miss Utah. He credits his engineering education at BYU for opening doors in his career.
After completing his master’s degree at BYU, Brown received a PhD from the University of Utah, eventually joining the University of Michigan faculty. There, Brown and his students developed miniature silicon-based chemical sensors, the fastest announced microprocessor in 1993, implantable microprocessors for cochlear prostheses, and more. Brown commercialized these research inventions and founded four companies—Sensicore, i-SENS, Mobius Microsystems and e-SENS.
Brown finds special satisfaction in solving health concerns through technology. “It’s hard to compete with the rush you get from conceiving an invention, working through the long process of making it real . . . and seeing it turn into a product that is making life better for people,” Brown says. “The exciting part [of engineering] is that you get to bring creativity to solve problems and invent things that have never been thought of before.”
For the last 10 years, Brown has been the dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Utah, where he led the College to increase the number of engineering graduates by 60 percent, research expenditures from $25 million to more than $80 million per year, and peer-reviewed publications from 398 to 816 per year.
Honors include Fellow of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at BYU, Distinguished Educator of the Year from the Utah Technology Council, and Arthur F. Thurnau Endowed Professorship at the University of Michigan.
Brown and his wife, Brenda Richardson Brown, are the parents of four children.