Abel Bliss Professorship in Engineering

The Bliss Professor of Engineering is the result of a bequest from the late Helen Eva Bliss in memory of her father, Abel Bliss Jr. Miss Bliss graduated from the University of Illinois in 1911 with a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Early in her career, she taught engineering at a Shreveport, Louisiana, high school, and later did clerical work with the Bureau of Aircraft Production in Washington, D.C. From 1936 until her retirement in 1962, she worked for the Washington law firm of Ivins, Phillips & Barker as an executive secretary.

Abel Bliss Jr., entered the University in 1872 to study civil engineering, but was forced to leave the University before completing his degree. In June of 1874, the University granted him a partial certificate in civil engineering. His business ventures included agriculture and real estate, and by 1929, he was a partner in the land development and oil production company of Bliss & Wetherbee. Mr. Bliss died in the mid-1930s. A portion of the Bliss bequest went to support the Grainger Engineering Library and Information Center Endowment as well as other projects for “advancing the scholastic activities of the School of Engineering.”


In the Department of Computer Science, Bliss Professorships are currently held by Professors Jiawei Han and Rob A. Rutenbar.

Jiawei Han Jiawei Han’s groundbreaking and highly influential research has made him one of the top computer scientists in the world. With a focus on knowledge discovery and data mining, data warehousing, and database systems, he is recognized as a pioneer in the field. Han was the first to introduce a pattern-growth methodology for mining frequent, sequential, and structured patterns, as well as the first to develop a set of important algorithms for mining such patterns. These methodologies have been extremely influential in subsequent research and are widely used.

Professor Han is the current director of the Informational Network Academic Research Center funded by the Army Research Lab, and he is the project leader or member for research funded by NASA, NSF, MURI (AFSOR), DHS, and Boeing. His textbook, Data Mining: Concepts and Techniques, is used worldwide in undergraduate and graduate-level data mining courses. An ACM and IEEE Fellow, Han honors include the IEEE Computer Society's W. Wallace McDowell Award, ACM SIGKDD's Innovations AWard, and the College of Engineering’s Tau Beta Pi/Daniel C. Drucker Eminent Faculty Award.


Rob A. Rutenbar received the PhD from the University of Michigan in 1984, and then joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University. He spent 25 years in Rob A. RutenbarElectrical and Computer Engineering at CMU, ultimately holding the Stephen J. Jatras (E’47) Chair. He was the founding Director of the Center for Circuit & System Solutions (called “C2S2”), a large consortium of US schools supported by DARPA and the US semiconductor industry, focused on design problems at the end of Moore’s Law scaling. In 2010, he joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as Head of the Department of Computer Science.

Professor Rutenbar's research has focused in three broad areas: tools and algorithms for a wide variety of integrated circuit design problems; methods to manage the messy statistics of nanoscale chip designs; and custom silicon architectures for perceptual and data analytics problems, notably in applications like speech recognition and machine learning. His work has been featured in venues ranging from EETimes to the Economist magazine.  His honors include the IEEE Circuits and Systems Industrial Pioneer Award and the 2013 Donald O. Pederson Best Paper Award. Rutenbar is a fellow of the ACM and IEEE.