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Brooks, Freidberg new area heads

Two engineering faculty members have been named to new supervisory posts. Professor Rodney A. Brooks has been named the new head of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Professor Jeffrey P. Freidberg is the new head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering. The appointments were announced by Professor Robert A. Brown, dean of the School of Engineering.

Professor Brooks, the Fujitsu Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, has been associate director of the AI Lab since July 1993. He succeeds Professor Patrick Winston, who was recently named as a Ford Professor of Engineering (see story on this page).

A world leader in artificial intelligence, Professor Brooks joined the MIT faculty in 1984 after a year as an assistant professor at Stanford and an earlier two-year period as an AI Lab research scientist. He became an associate professor with tenure in 1989 and professor in 1993. He was a 1991 recipient of the Computers and Thought Award given by the International Joint Conference of Artificial intelligence, and he was named to the Fujitsu chair last November.

Professor Brooks has created robotic insects that use his subsumption architecture (in which each layer works independently without global coordination or reasoning) to maneuver through rough terrain and over obstacles. He is also working on humanoid robots and new methods of human-computer interaction in the AI Lab's Intelligent Room. He received the BSc (1975) and MSc (1977) degrees from Flinders University of South Australia and the PhD in computer science from Stanford in 1981.

Succeeding Professor Brooks as associate head of the AI Lab is Dr. Howard Shrobe, a principal research scientist who has been associated with the lab since receiving the PhD from MIT in 1978. He received the SM from MIT in electrical engineering in 1975 and his undergraduate degree in mathematics fom Yale College in 1968.

An expert in plasma fusion science and engineering, Professor Freidberg has been associate director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center for the past year. He has been on MIT's nuclear engineering faculty since 1979 and was at Los Alamos National Laboratory for 11 years, during which time he was group leader of the Fusion Theory Group for five years. He succeeds Professor Mujid Kazimi as department head.

Professor Freidberg, the author of the 1987 textbook Ideal Magnetohydrodynamics, has been the department's graduate core curriculum coordinator and has won four teaching awards. He holds the BS (1961) in electrical engineering and the MS (1962) and PhD (1964) in electrophysics, all from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 17, 1997.

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