Distinguished Alumni Awards

Marwan A. Simaan

Marwan A. Simaan
To Marwan A. Simaan, for interdisciplinary contributions to automatic control and signal processing in theory and practice and for contributions to engineering education and the profession.

Bell of PA/Bell Atlantic Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

  • BS, 1968, Electrical Engineering, (with distinction) American University of Beirut
  • MS, 1970, Electrical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh
  • PhD, 1972, Electrical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 After receiving his doctoral degree in 1972, Marwan A. Simaan remained with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois until 1974, teaching and doing postdoctoral research. He then spent two years with Shell Research Labs in Houston, Texas, and, in 1976, he joined the electrical engineering faculty at the University of Pittsburgh. During the same time, he also served as a resident technical consultant for Gulf Research Labs and later for ALCOA Research Labs, both located near Pittsburgh.

During his 35-year career, Simaan has made major interdisciplinary contributions in the fields of automatic control and signal processing in both theory and practice. With his advisor, Professor Jose B. Cruz Jr., Simaan was one of the original contributors to the development of the Stackelberg approach to dynamic games as a solution mechanism for two-level decision systems with conflicting objectives. This work, which has varied applications in interdisciplinary areas ranging from economics to armament decision problems, is highly recognized and widely referenced even more than 30 years later. In recent years, he and Cruz, applied these same concepts for optimizing the control actions of teams of autonomous vehicles operating in adversarial environments as part of a major DARPA project.

In the area of signal processing, Simaan is recognized as one of the pioneers in the development of vertical seismic array measurement methods and the development of array signal processing techniques for analyzing the collected signals. He is also credited as being one of the first to introduce concepts from artificial intelligence for interpreting seismic data. In the past ten years, Simaan has been involved in modeling rotary ventricular assist devices and developing patient-adaptive control algorithms for them. These biomechanical devices are typically implanted in heart patients who are awaiting heart transplantation. The advanced control algorithms that Simaan is developing will eventually allow these patients to return home to a normal lifestyle until a donor heart becomes available.

In addition to his contributions to knowledge in his field, Simaan has made important contributions in engineering education, using his experience in interdisciplinary research in both administration and the classroom. As department head of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh from 1991 to 1998, he increased the emphasis on research, started a computer engineering program, increased diversity in faculty and students, and improved considerably the quality of the graduate program. He has been recognized as one of the best engineering teachers at the University of Pittsburgh and has received almost every possible teaching award in the engineering school. In 2005, he was elected Fellow of ASEE and in 2007 he received the IEEE Education Society Achievement Award, largely for his contributions to engineering education.

Simaan was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2000, a Fellow of the IEEE in 1988, and a Fellow of AAAS in 1999. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1995.

Current as of 2008.