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Professor Barry Van Veen
July 28, 2023

ECE Professor Barry Van Veen retires

Written By: Jason Daley


Professor Barry Van Veen has retired from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison after serving the department for more than 30 years. Van Veen, who has earned accolades for both his teaching and research, will transition to an emeritus professor on campus.

Van Veen earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan Technological University in 1983 and his PhD from the University of Colorado in 1986. The following year, he joined the ECE department at UW-Madison.  

Van Veen’s research has focused on statistical signal processing and its applications, including problems in adaptive filtering, adaptive beamforming, signal detection and estimation, equalization and sensor array signal processing. In recent years, he’s focused on biomedical signal processing, including developing and analyzing algorithms for modeling electrical activity in the brain, studying fetal heart and brain measurements, and for microwave-based detection, monitoring and treatment of breast cancer. Over his career, he earned numerous honors, including receiving an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, and being named Fellow by IEEE.

Van Veen has been a dedicated educator who is among pioneers of the flipped (active-learning) classroom concept in the College of Engineering. He has won several teaching awards, including the 1997 Holdridge Teaching Excellence Award from the ECE department, the 2014 Harvey Spangler Award for Technology Enhanced Instruction and the 2017 Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Engineering, and the 2015 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award from UW-Madison.  

Barry Van Veen (center), professor of computer and electrical engineering, works with students in his ECE 330: Signals and Systems class in the Wisconsin Collaboratory for Enhanced Learning (WisCEL) on the fourth floor of Wendt Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison

Van Veen also served the ECE department as associate chair for graduate and online studies, helping to rapidly grow the department’s accelerated master’s degree program. He spearheaded an overhaul of the PhD program, establishing uniform course requirements and replacing qualifying exams. Between 2015 and 2018, he led an education innovation committee that helped launch the College of Engineering makerspace and promoted research-based effective teaching practices.  

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Chair and Philip D. Reed Professor, Susan Hagness described Van Veen as a pioneer in signal processing and a trailblazer in active-learning pedagogies. She also reflected, “Among his many accomplishments over the past 35 years, he graduated 25 PhD students and 29 Master’s degree students. The impact of his leadership will continue for generations.”