Brett Helsel
Brett Helsel

Established in 2017 with gifts totaling $500,000 from John G. Connors, Simone Helsel, Jeffrey S. Hussey, and others

Brett Helsel, a friend and supporter of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, passed away on July 10, 2014. A passionate technologist, Brett had the rare distinction of shaping the products at F5 Networks and Isilon Systems, two of the region’s most important technology companies. Following positions at Lockheed Missiles and Space, Digital Equipment Corp., and Wall Data, Brett joined F5 in 1998 as an early member of the executive team, rising to the position of Chief Technology Officer and shaping the company's product direction prior to its groundbreaking IPO. He left F5 in 2003 to start his own venture-backed security software company, Lockdown Networks, before being tapped by Isilon Systems to help lead its turnaround as Senior Vice President of Engineering.

Brett was an equally passionate believer in the power of higher education to transform the lives of students and the economies of regions. He was engaged with the Allen School from the moment he arrived in Seattle. He inspired the Allen School's students on his many visits (a typical snippet from a course presentation: "If you’re at a stop light headed for work and you're not raring to get your foot on the gas, you should consider your next position!"). His primary focus, though, was advancing the careers of top young faculty members – starting when he arranged for DEC to donate equipment to eight of UW's finest junior faculty in a number of fields of science and engineering to meet the industry match requirement of their National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Awards, and continuing through to his successful advocacy with EMC after the Isilon acquisition. And in typical Brett style, he was very much hands-on: he interacted closely with the faculty he supported, and built strong relationships throughout CSE.

The Brett Helsel Career Development Professorship in Computer Science & Engineering was established by Brett's friends and loved ones to celebrate his life and to serve as a longstanding reminder of his passion for innovation and his many contributions to the Allen School and the tech industry.

Holders of the Brett Helsel Career Development Professorship

  • Franziska Roesner, 2023-present
  • Yejin Choi, 2020-2023