Seven faculty and alumni are among the winners of the prestigious honors for electrical engineers and computer scientists.
Sandi Miller | Jane Halpern | Department of Mathematics | Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Rodney Brooks, Panasonic Professor of Robotics Emeritus of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was awarded the IEEE Founders Medal “for leadership in research and commercialization of autonomous robotics, including mobile, humanoid, service, and manufacturing robots.” An entrepreneur, Brooks is the CTO and co-founder of Robust AI. Prior to his time at Robust AI, he was founder, chair, and CTO of Rethink Robotics, and prior to that, was a founder, former board member and former CTO of iRobot Corp. Brooks is the former director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and then the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received degrees in pure mathematics from the Flinders University of South Australia and a PhD in computer science from Stanford University in 1981. He held research positions at Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, and a faculty position at Stanford before joining the faculty of MIT in 1984.
Frank Thomson “Tom” Leighton PhD ’81, professor of applied mathematics and a member of CSAIL at MIT, received the 2023 IEEE John von Neumann Medal “for fundamental contributions to algorithm design and their application to content delivery networks.” In 1998, Leighton co-founded Akamai Technologies, where he is currently the CEO and a member of the board of directors. Leighton is considered an authority on algorithms for network applications, and has published over 100 papers on algorithms, cryptography, parallel architectures, distributed computing, combinatorial optimization, and graph theory. He also holds numerous patents involving content delivery, internet protocols, algorithms for networks, cryptography, and digital rights management. He shares the Graduate School Council’s 2016 Irwin Sizer Award with Professor Michael Sipser for their development of the 18C major, mathematics with computer science. Leighton received his BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University in 1978, and his PhD in applied mathematics from MIT in 1981, under the direction of Gary Miller. He joined the MIT mathematics faculty in 1982, and became professor in 1989.
José Manuel Fonseca Moura EE ’73, SM ’73, ScD ’75, was awarded the IEEE Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal “for contributions to theory and practice of statistical, graph, and distributed signal processing.” A graduate of the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Moura is now the Philip L. and Marsha Dowd University Professor at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineers, fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors, a member of the Portugal Academy of Science, an IEEE Fellow, and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A detector Moura patented with co-inventor Alek Kavcic is used in more than 3 billion disk drives (in over 60 percent of all computers sold worldwide in the last 16 years). Before coming to MIT, Moura studied electrical engineering at the Technical University of Lisbon.
Rebecca Rae Richards-Kortum SM ’87, PhD ’90 (physics and health sciences and technology) was awarded the IEEE Medal for Innovations in Healthcare Technology, “for contributions to optical solutions for cancer detection and leadership in establishing the field of global health engineering.” Richards-Kortum is currently the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, a professor of bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering, and director of the Rice 360: Institute for Global Health Technology at Rice University. Her research and teaching focus is on the development of low-cost, high-performance technologies to provide access to life-saving health technologies that address diseases and conditions that cause high morbidity and mortality, such as cervical and oral cancer, premature birth, sickle cell disease and malaria. She received her bachelor’s in physics and mathematics from the University of Nebraska in 1985, her MS in physics from MIT in 1987, and her PhD in medical physics in 1990 from the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology.
Daniela Rus, director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing Deputy Dean of Research, and the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor within the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, was awarded the IEEE Robotics and Automation Award “for pioneering contributions to the design, realization, and theoretical foundations of innovative distributed, networked autonomous systems.” Rus’ research in robotics, artificial intelligence, and data science focuses primarily on developing the science and engineering of autonomy, with the long-term objective of enabling a future where machines are integrated into daily life to support both cognitive and physical tasks. Rus is a Class of 2002 MacArthur Fellow, a fellow of ACM, AAAI and IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineers, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She earned her PhD in computer science from Cornell University. Prior to joining MIT, Rus was a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.
Radia Perlman ’73, SM ’76, PhD ’88 received the IEEE Eric E. Sumner Award “for contributions to internet routing and bridging protocols.” Currently a Dell EMC Fellow, she is best known for her invention of the algorithm behind STP, the Spanning Tree Protocol, which solved a challenging information routing problem and earned her the moniker “Mother of the Internet.” She is a member of the Internet Hall of Fame, and is widely considered to be one of the most influential participants in the networking revolution. She graduated from MIT with a BS in 1973 and an MS in 1976, both in mathematics. She later earned her PhD in computer science from MIT in 1988, advised by David D. Clark of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, with her doctoral thesis on routing in environments where malicious network failures are present — which serves as the basis for much of the work that now exists in this area. She has also worked at Digital; Novell; Sun Microsystems; and Bolt, Berenek, and Newman, and holds over 100 patents.
Alexander Waibel ’79 was presented the IEEE James L. Flanagan Speech and Audio Processing Award, “for pioneering contributions to spoken language translation and supporting technologies.” Waibel is a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany), and director of the International Center for Advanced Communication Technologies. He is known for his work on AI, machine learning, multimodal interfaces and speech translation systems. Waibel founded more than 10 companies that transferred academic results to practical deployment; including Jibbigo, the first commercial speech translator on a phone (acquired by Facebook in 2013); and KITES, the first simultaneous lecture translation service (acquired by Zoom in 2021). Other deployments include dialog translators for humanitarian missions, and interpretation support at the European Parliament. Waibel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of Germany and a Life Fellow of the IEEE. He received his BS from MIT in electrical engineering and computer science, and his MS and PhD degrees from Carnegie Mellon University.