Naveen Verma appointed director of Keller Center

By Steven Schultz
January 14, 2020

Naveen Verma, professor of electrical engineering, has been appointed director of Princeton University’s Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, a center focused on enabling students across the University to realize their aspirations for addressing societal problems. His appointment is effective Feb. 1.

Verma succeeds Margaret Martonosi, the Hugh Trumbull Adams '35 Professor of Computer Science, who was selected to lead the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation.

"Naveen has brought an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to teaching and research throughout his 10 years at Princeton," said H. Vincent Poor, interim dean of engineering. "In addition to being a leader in his research field, he has helped start companies and has been recognized as a teacher and mentor. I am grateful for all that Margaret has done for the center and know that Naveen will build on those achievements in exciting ways."

The Keller Center, founded in 2005, helps students across campus achieve greater societal impact through entrepreneurship, design and innovative education. The center supports courses that cut across conventional disciplines, with a focus on entrepreneurship and design-oriented thinking, as well as co-curricular opportunities such as internships and start-up accelerator programs.

"What excites me about the Keller Center is that it is for all students," Verma said. "It happens to be in the engineering school because technology is often a big part of the solution to societal challenges and because engineering is naturally about transforming scientific discovery into solutions, but standing up solutions to today’s societal challenges really requires broad thinking and discovery. Keller is a place for this sort of thinking."

Verma joined the Princeton faculty in 2009 and was promoted to full professor in 2019. He has served as the electrical engineering department's director of graduate studies and in 2015 won an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Princeton Engineering Council. In 2012, Verma and his student team won first place in the Keller Center's annual Innovation Forum, which recognizes research with commercial potential.

"When I was in school, students thought about subjects — what they liked or were good at," said Verma. "Students these days, especially at Princeton, are thinking about problems in the world they care about and want to solve, and then getting the tools they need to solve those problems. That thinking and doing is what the Keller Center is about."