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Sheridan appointed to Ford Professorship

The appointment of Thomas B. Sheridan as Ford Professor of Engineering has been announced by Dean Joel Moses of the School of Engineering.

Professor Sheridan, internationally recognized for his teaching and research in control, man-machine systems, human factors and telerobotics, is co-author of Man-Machine Systems: Information Control and Decision Models of Human Performance (1974), a seminal contribution to the field, and more recently author of Telerobotics, Automation and Human Supervisory Control (1992). Both were published by MIT Press.

Professor Sheridan has an unusual professional background, combining both engineering and psychology. His research has relevance to many fields, especially aviation and space. He has academic appointments in both the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In both departments, he is listed as a professor of engineering and applied psychology, a title that reflects the intersection of technological and human issues involved in his work. He also participates in projects at the Center for Transportation Studies and the Research Laboratory of Electronics.

His research has included human-computer interaction in aircraft and space piloting; high-speed trains and "smart" highway systems; undersea and industrial robotic systems; and computer-graphic displays and decision aids. He has taught many undergraduate and graduate subjects, ranging from the basic mechanics of solids to models of man-machine systems.

The Ford Professorships in Engineering-there are seven of them at MIT-were endowed by the Ford Foundation in 1960 to recognize outstanding senior faculty in the School of Engineering for intellectual accomplishment, innovation and leadership.

Professor Sheridan is senior editor of the MIT Press Journal "Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments." Among his honors are election as a fellow of both the IEEE and Human Factors Society (HFS); an honorary doctorate from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands; the IEEE's Centennial Medal and Norbert Weiner Prize; the HFS's Paul Fitts Award; and election to the National Academy of Engineering, which was announced last month.

A 1989 festschrift at MIT resulted in the 1991 volume Robotics Control and Society: Essays in Honor of Thomas B. Sheridan.

Professor Sheridan received the ScD degree from MIT in 1959 in the field of human-machine systems. He holds the BSME from Purdue (1951) and the MS Eng. from UCLA (1954).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on March 1, 1995.

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