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Dahleh appointed to new roles

Leading ESD and planning for a potential MIT-wide effort in the areas of socio-technical systems, information and decision systems, and statistics.
Munther Dahleh
Munther Dahleh
Photo: Patricia Sampson

Munther Dahleh, professor and associate department head of electrical engineering and computer science, has been appointed acting director of the Engineering Systems Division, and director-designate of a potential new organization that would incorporate the people and programs of ESD, the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, a significant new initiative in statistics, and potentially other programs and entities.  He will step down from his current role and assume his new responsibilities on Dec. 1.

The potential new organization, which will be composed of faculty who work in socio-technical systems, information and decision systems, and statistics, will build on the work and recommendations that have come from three recent faculty committees: the Rivest Committee, focusing on socio-technical systems, and the Willcox and Sipser committees, focusing on statistics.

In an email to faculty, School of Engineering Dean Ian A. Waitz described the process that Dahleh will coordinate to enable a more fully informed decision to be made as to whether or not MIT should go forward with implementation plans, and if so, to decide on the best strategy for doing so. “There have been many discussions over the last several months of a potential new organization to amplify efforts in these critical areas at MIT,” Waitz wrote. “While there is support from many faculty members to move forward, there are also many critical issues as well as implementation details that need to be addressed in order to assess the viability of the proposed organization and to ensure a successful realization of a shared vision.”

Four committees composed of faculty from related areas will work with Dahleh and Waitz to define these details and to prepare a strategic plan for the organization. The first committee, chaired by Dahleh and Professor Karen Willcox, will devote its efforts to the overall mission, strategy, and operating plans for the organization. The second, chaired by professors Emery Brown and David Gamarnik, will focus on developing world-class research and educational programs in statistics. The third, chaired by professors Anantha Chandrakasan and Alan Willsky, will define policies and procedures for effective interactions with other organizations at MIT. The fourth committee will be chaired by Institute Professor Thomas Magnanti and Professor Olivier de Weck; they will recommend changes to sustain and improve existing academic programs in the Engineering Systems Division. The committees will coordinate closely through their co-chairs.

Dahleh received his B.S. in electrical engineering from Texas A&M University in 1983 and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Rice University in 1987. He joined MIT as an assistant professor in 1987. He is a distinguished scholar whose research record reflects diverse contributions ranging from robust control theory to the analysis and design of dynamic system over physical and information networks. His most recent work focuses on developing mathematical foundations for the analysis of fragility and cascaded failures, as well as information propagation in networked systems, with applications in energy, transportation, finance, and social networks.

Dahleh has supervised approximately 30 Ph.D. students, many of whom have gone on to academic careers at leading universities. He is a three-time winner of the prestigious George Axelby Outstanding Paper Award from IEEE and a winner of the Eckman Award for the best control engineer under 35. He has also received the Graduate Student Council’s best teaching award. He is a fellow of IEEE. In addition to serving as associate head of EECS, he was associate director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems and acting director for one year. He is currently the housemaster at MacGregor House and the chair of the Committee on Discipline.

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