Long History of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering In the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the Polytechnic School of Engineering, New York University

From the 1950’s the name of the University has changed from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn to Polytechnic Institute of New York, to Polytechnic University, to the Polytechnic Engineering School of New York University.

Automatic Control work began at Poly began in the 1950’s as an offshoot from electrical circuit design.  Isaac Horowitz spent 1951-58 as a student, teacher and professor at Poly, where he earned his PhD.  He later did outstanding work in aircraft guidance and control and was a prolific writer and consultant.

John Truxal’s seminal book Automatic Feedback Control System Synthesis, published in 1955, attracted faculty and students to the growing field.  He became Professor and Head of the EE Department in 1957 and was active in the formation of the American Automatic Control Conference.  His work with the Systems and Control Group of Poly’s Microwave Research Institute on Adaptive Control Systems lead to a symposium on that subject with a Proceedings and the book Adaptive Control Systems, edited by Mishkin and Braun, published in 1961.  He was a fellow of National Academy of Engineering.

Truxal’s students who later became Poly faculty included Peter Dorato (finite time stability; robust control), Richard A. Haddad (signal processing), Martin L. Shooman (software engineering), and Joseph J. Bongiorno, Jr. (frequency domain optimization of multivariable control systems)

Dante C. Youla used his circuit synthesis expertise to develop ground-breaking solutions for optimization of linear, multivariable control systems. He joined Poly in 1955. Prof. Youla is a member of National Academy of Engineering and has been the recipient of many awards. 

Faculty who joined the department in the 60’s included Leonard Shaw (stochastic systems), Rudolph F. Drenick (system modeling and optimization), and for five years, Alexander Levis (architecture for system design). Drenick and Shaw each served terms as Department Head.

John Ragazzini was dean of the School of Engineering and Science at New York University.

Philip Sarachik (linear systems) joined the department when the New York University engineering school joined Poly in 1973.

Bernard Friedland joined the department as an adjunct professor in 1970's till 1990.

Stephen Kahne, who was active in and served as president of both the IEEE Control Systems Society and the International Federation of Automatic Control, was Dean of Engineering at Poly in the 1980’s.  During that same period Janos Gertler (fault detection) was on the EE faculty.

Farshad Khorrami (controls and robotics) joined the ECE faculty in 1988 and has established the control/robotics research laboratory (CRRL) at Poly. He also established a controls program for the ME Dept. by bringing in Anthony Tzes (controls and system identification) as an ME faculty. Thereafter, Zigang Pan (game theory and controls) was with the ECE Dept. for two years starting in 1996. Zhong-Ping Jiang (systems and nonlinear control) joined the ECE faculty in 1999.  In 2014, another faculty, Quanyan Zhu (game theory and controls), was hired in the ECE Dept.   Currently, Vikram Kapila (controls), Maurizio Porfiri (controls), and Joo Kim (robotics and dynamical systems) are with the ME Dept.

List of Past and Current Members at Systems and Control Group

Isaac Horowitz                 1951-1958

John Truxal                       1957-1972

Dante C. Youla                 1955-1996 (Emeritus)

Peter Dorato                      1962-1968

Joseph J. Bongiorno          1957-1996 (Emeritus)

Martin L. Shooman

Leonard Shaw                   1960-1996 (Emeritus)

Philip Sarachik                  1973-1996 (Emeritus)

Alexander Levis                1968-1973

Rudolph F. Drenick

Stephen Kahne                   1983-1985

Janos Gertler                       1984-1985

Farshad Khorrami              1988-present

Zigang Pan                          1996-1998

Zhong-Ping Jiang                1999-Present

Quanyan Zhu                       2014-Present