Jerzy Rozenblit: CLAS '85
The early 1980s were a turbulent time in Poland. That’s when Dr. Jerzy Rozenblit, CLAS ‘85, decided to come to the United States to pursue his master’s degree and Ph.D. in computer science at Wayne State University.
Rozenblit trained in computer engineering and control systems in Poland during his undergraduate studies.
“I wanted to pursue a computer science-related area, and the subject of computer modeling was what I really wanted to do,” Rozenblit said. “From early on, I knew that I wanted to be a university professor,” he recalled. “I wanted to pursue advanced graduate degrees that would give me the license to become a scholar and a professor.”
Another factor that attracted Rozenblit to the university was a prominent and internationally acclaimed professor who transferred from the University of Michigan to Wayne State.
“I was actually able to join his group in Detroit,” Rozenblit remembered. “The department of computer science was under very strong leadership at the time by Dr. Mort Rahimi. There was a strong emphasis in computer modeling and simulation, I was very much attracted to that opportunity.”
Having recently moved to the United States, Rozenblit found a sense of community among graduate students at the university. He also had the opportunity to teach classes in his field.
“I was fortunate because I was rather fluent in English so I was given the opportunity to be a teaching assistant,” Rozenblit said. “I taught introductory level classes, which was extremely rewarding for me. The level of responsibility that I was given at Wayne State was empowering in many ways.”
After receiving his doctorate, Rozenblit moved to Arizona and was the Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Arizona from 2003 to 2011. His interactions with national organizations even led him back to Wayne State to give guest lectures about his work in the field.
Now, Rozenblit studies computer-based methods of providing guidance for minimally invasive surgery. This virtual environment allows people to develop surgical skills using computers, instead of training on patients or animals.
“Over the years, I developed techniques in what we call simulation medicine and healthcare,” Rozenblit said. “These new techniques involving computer mock-ups are aimed at improving patient safety in the operating room. We intend on eliminating any possible errors. It’s very rewarding.”
Rozenblit has worked at the University of Arizona for 30 years and he teaches both upper and lower-level classes. From advanced graduate classes that are designed for masters and doctoral students to introductory programming classes, Rozenblit finds joy in teaching and interacting with his students. His main areas of work include teaching, research and professional service.
“An extremely rewarding aspect of my profession is to be in the classroom and influence people, relay the knowledge, and teach them how to solve problems and think about future challenges,” Rozenblit said. “The training that I received at WSU, and having been influenced by highly successful scholars, provided me with a model for success. I have a strong emotional attachment to Wayne State, as it set me on my course.
“For me, WSU was a wonderful transition to building a new life in a new country. It was a very rich transition, both personally and educationally. This formative experience allowed me to embed myself fully into my new life. It was a fantastic experience.”
By Ki Lee O'Brien, CLAS alumni writer