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Dr. Joseph L. Cecchi

Dean Emeritus School of Engineering, UNM
Professor Emeritus, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering


BA, Physics – Knox College
MA and PhD, Physics – Harvard University
MBA – Anderson School of Management, UNM

Business/Research Background

In 1994, Dr. Cecchi joined the University of New Mexico as Professor and as Chair of the Department of Chemical & Nuclear Engineering. In 2001, Dr. Cecchi was appointed Dean of the School of Engineering and served until 2009. His tenure as Dean was the second longest in the School of Engineering’s history. He oversaw the funding, planning and construction of the $43 million Centennial Engineering Center and the creation of three new strategic research centers and several interdisciplinary degree programs. As Dean, Dr. Cecchi was also responsible for increasing contacts between the School of Engineering and the business community and helped to recruit high technology companies to New Mexico. In 2011, he accepted the position of Provost and Professor of Engineering at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Masdar is a three-year-old graduate, research-driven university in partnership with MIT, concentrating on sustainable energy systems. Dr. Cecchi returned to UNM in 2012 as a Professor in the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering and served as Senior Advisor to the Provost for National Laboratory Relations. In 2014, Dr. Cecchi was appointed Dean of UNM’s School of Engineering. In 2017, Dr. Cecchi retired as Dean and Professor in the School of Engineering, and retired as Senior Advisor in 2018.

Prior to coming to UNM, Dr. Cecchi was at Princeton University from 1972-1994, where he held joint appointments in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He was also Director of the Graduate Program in Plasma Science and Technology at Princeton. From 1991-1994, Dr. Cecchi was the Director of the New Jersey SEMATECH Center of Excellence (NJSCOE) for Plasma Etching, where he led a consortium of researchers from four universities and a private laboratory.

Dr. Cecchi served as a member of STC’s Board of Directors from 2001-2011, from 2014-present, as Chair from 2004-2011 and as Vice Chair from 2014-present. Under his leadership, STC experienced significant growth and recognition as an innovative technology-transfer program and contributor to economic development in New Mexico. In recognition of his service to STC, the STC.UNM Board of Directors renamed the STC.UNM Lobo VentureLab the Joseph L. Cecchi VentureLab.

Particular Knowledge and Skills

Dr. Cecchi’s research focuses on fabrication at the microscale and below. He has worked extensively in semiconductor manufacturing, particularly plasma etching of dense patterns with sub-200 nm features, plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition, and chemical mechanical planarization (CMP). Current interests include nanotechnology and microsystems. Dr. Cecchi and his students have authored more than 100 research publications and presented more than 150 papers at national and international conferences. He testifies regularly as an expert witness in semiconductor manufacturing litigation.